Abbey Road on the River

At least one popular Southern Indiana event has already canceled plans for this spring because of the coronavirus pandemic, prompting community leaders and event organizers to evaluate their expectations for this year’s festival season.

People have flocked to the countryside of Starlight, Ind., for more than 40 years to attend its strawberry festival in May. But last week, organizers canceled 2021’s festivities because of COVID-19.

It’s the second year in a row the festival has been scrapped, and the region’s first major cancellation of 2021.

Side Effects Public Media

Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box has tested positive for COVID-19.

Box made the announcement during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s coronavirus press briefing Wednesday. Box’s daughter and grandson also tested positive for the disease. While her family members are displaying mild symptoms, Box said she is not symptomatic.

Holcomb and other state government officials will get tested later Wednesday, and hope to have results by morning or midday Thursday.


Back in spring, Indiana State Rep. Ed Clere began recognizing the severity of the coronavirus pandemic that was taking hold throughout the United States. He said the effects of COVID-19 were already taking a “devastating toll,” and he felt a calling to help any way he could.

“And looking at projections, I knew time was of the essence,” Clere said. “And I felt like I could do something by volunteering.”

Clere and his wife, Amy, signed up for vaccine trials online. Months went by without hearing anything, but around August, a family friend told Amy about an opportunity across the Ohio River in Kentucky. Now, the Clere family, including 19-year-old daughter Hannah, are participating in trials at the Kentucky Pediatric/Adult Research (KPAR) in Bardstown.


Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is ordering the use of body cameras by all Indiana State Police troopers by spring 2021.

The announcement came Tuesday during a speech by Holcomb that focused on racial justice. He said the coronavirus pandemic has worsened a number of inequities faced by Black Hoosiers.

“It’s in this environment that we’ve seen a number of unarmed Black men and women killed, culminating in an officer kneeling on the neck of Mr. George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, until his last breath was snuffed out,” Holcomb said.

During the speech, the Republican governor highlighted local governments from across the state that have already enacted body camera policies. Among the cities mentioned was Jeffersonville.

John Boyle

Indiana’s statewide mask mandate went into effect Monday, requiring Hoosiers to wear face coverings in a number of social settings.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the decision last week to require those over the age of 8 to wear face coverings while inside businesses, public indoor spaces, and outside at public spaces where social distancing cannot be done. Students and employees of schools will also be subject to the mandate.

On the first day of the official order, many people in southern Indiana seemed more than happy to comply while out shopping. Some approached business doors, only to turn back to their vehicle to retrieve a mask, though a few still entered without masks.

Indiana Governor To Issue Statewide Mask Mandate

Jul 22, 2020
Mika Baumeister via Unsplash

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he’ll sign an executive order mandating all Indiana residents wear masks to help curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Kentucky has had a similar order in place since July 10.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Holcomb said he would sign the order Thursday, and it will take effect Monday. It applies to people age eight and older and there will be a few exceptions, including people who have medical issues, as well as when people are doing high-intensity exercise or are eating or drinking. 

Holcomb, a Republican, said there won’t be “mask police,” but it will be a class B misdemeanor if Hoosiers are caught violating the order.

Indiana Women’s Prison Called ‘Ticking Time Bomb’ As COVID Lockdown Continues

Jul 21, 2020
Ruth L. Poor

Gov. Eric Holcomb often brags about the Indiana Women’s Prison. Last year, Holcomb showed the prison off to Ivanka Trump. He’s mentioned the prison in his state of the state address and posted videos to his Facebook page.

“I wanted to be at your graduation because of what it symbolizes for you and your families and for the state of Indiana,” he said at the 2018 graduation ceremony for The Last Mile, a program that teaches inmates how to code. “We’re all in this together.”

But critics say such statements are insincere, given the current situation — with prisoners confined to their cells for long stretches amid the grueling summer heat. Some employees at the prison worry prisoners could die if conditions persist.

John Boyle

Indiana has joined more than 20 other states that have banned drivers from using handheld devices while operating a vehicle.

House Bill 1070 goes into effect Wednesday after being signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb in March. The legislation means drivers will no longer be allowed to hold cell phones or other devices in their hands while a vehicle is in motion.

In 2011, a similar – though less restrictive law – that banned texting was passed by the Indiana General Assembly. But Sen. Ron Grooms, a sponsor of the new legislation, said it was too difficult to enforce.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A rise in coronavirus cases among Southern Indiana minority populations is prompting local health officials to take a more focused approach in combating the disease.

Lillian Rose, who serves hundreds of immigrants across the region at the Hispanic Connection of Southern Indiana, said there’s a lot about the spread of COVID-19 in the community that’s unknown — including reliable numbers about how many Hispanic residents have become infected or died from coronavirus.

J. Tyler Franklin

Gov. Andy Beshear says Indiana is reopening too quickly during the coronavirus pandemic, and that Kentuckians still shouldn’t travel to surrounding states unless it’s necessary.

Starting Monday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb allowed people across most of the state to gather in groups of up to 25 and eased restrictions on non-essential manufacturing and retail businesses, allowing them to operate at 50 percent capacity.

Kentucky plans to allow non-essential businesses in industries like construction, manufacturing, boat and auto sales and office-based business to reopen starting May 11. Social gatherings of ten people or fewer won’t be allowed until May 25th.


In Indiana, restaurants and bars are shuttered, schools are closed, and like much of the country, people are being ordered to stay home.

The Indiana Historical Society is trying to document what it's like to live in this time, and have asked the public to help.

"We thought, this is a period of time people are going to study for centuries," says Jody Blankenship, president of the Indiana Historical Society. "And we need to collect the voices of our community right now."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Indiana has confirmed its first case of coronavirus. Gov. Eric Holcomb has declared a state of emergency, but health officials stressed there was no threat to public health from the confirmed case.

“The question has never been if Indiana would get a case, but when we would see one,” said Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. “We have been preparing for this possibility, and I want to stress that this is an isolated case at this time.”

The patient, an adult Marion County resident, returned from a trip to Boston on March 4th. They had been working as a contractor associated with a conference, health officials said. The patient is in stable condition and is currently in self-isolation outside of a hospital setting.

Flickr/Creative Commons/401(K) 2012

A new Pew Charitable Trusts report shows Kentucky’s spending on Medicaid has increased since the recession, but remains below the national average. The study looked at how much Medicaid spending takes up of each state’s revenue.


Pew found Medicaid consumed a greater portion of state revenue across the country from 2000 to 2017. Justin Theal, with Pew, said the organization studies the issue for a couple of reasons.

Thousands Of Teachers Pack Indiana Statehouse For Protest

Nov 19, 2019

Several thousand teachers wearing red surrounded the Indiana Statehouse on Tuesday calling for better pay and more respect from the Republican-dominated state government in a protest that closed more than half of the state’s school districts for the day.

The union-organized rally represented Indiana’s biggest such teacher protest amid a wave of educator activism across the country over the past two years.

Back in May, three Indiana judges got into a fight. It was the crescendo of an incident brimming with colorful details: a gaggle of judges drinking the night before a judicial conference, a failed attempt to visit a strip club called the Red Garter, a brawl in the parking lot of an Indianapolis White Castle.

The altercation apparently started sometime after 3 a.m., when one of the judges, Sabrina Bell, raised a middle finger at two men yelling from a passing SUV, and ended after one of those men shot two of the judges.