INDIANAPOLIS — Further easing of Indiana's coronavirus restrictions will occur Friday for most of the state as the governor announced Wednesday that he would move that step up by two days for the Memorial Day weekend.
A new state order will allow social gatherings of up to 100 people and retail stores and malls to operate at 75% capacity, Gov. Eric Holcomb said. Gatherings have been limited to 25 people and stores to 50% capacity under the state's first easing of restrictions that took effect May 4.
Gyms, fitness centers, community pools and campgrounds will also be allowed to open with safety precautions.
Holcomb pointed to a decline in the number of COVID-19 infected people hospitalized and the continued availability of intensive care unit beds to treat those most seriously ill.
"We've earned the ability, I should say, the ability to continue to move forward," Holcomb said.
State health officials have reported 1,864 deaths of people with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 infections since mid-March. At least 430 deaths have occurred since the lifting of Indiana's state-at-home order that was imposed March 25.
Restaurants will continue to be limited 50% capacity in dining rooms and summer youth camps can't open until at least June 1.
The relaxed regulations had been scheduled to take effect Sunday. Tougher local restrictions are still being allowed, with the new steps not taking effect until at least June 1 in Indianapolis, northwestern Indiana's Lake County and rural northern Indiana's Cass County, where a large coronavirus outbreak infected hundreds of Tyson meatpacking plant workers.
Thirty of Indiana's new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred Monday and Tuesday, while the remainder date back as far as May 3 and boost Indiana's confirmed death toll to 1,716, the Indiana State Department of Health said.
About 75% of Indiana's deaths have involved people ages 70 and older, according to the health department.
The state agency said another 581 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the state's total confirmed cases to 29,274.
Marion County once again had the most new cases of any of Indiana's 92 counties, with 119 new cases. The county, which is home to Indianapolis, has accounted for 505 of Indiana's confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness or death.