By Associated Press - Friday, April 2, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and new coronavirus cases are continuing to see slight increases after reaching recent lows in mid-March, data released Friday by state health officials show.

The Indiana Department of Health’s COVID-19 tracker listed a seven-day average of 988 new infections as of Thursday, up from an average of about 750 two weeks ago. Hospitalizations were at 697, after falling below 600 for several days in mid-March.

The increases come as Indiana prepares to lift the statewide mask mandate next week.

But both figures are down more than 80% from December peaks. And Indiana’s average daily COVID-19 deaths have dropped from more than 100 a day to fewer than 10 a day during that time.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box said Wednesday she’s worried by the increases in new cases and hospitalizations, as well as coronavirus variants blamed for growing infections in Michigan and elsewhere.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he’s sticking by his decision to lift the statewide mask mandate next Tuesday, when Indiana’s statewide crowd size and other business restrictions meant to stem the coronavirus spread will also end.

Holcomb said he was confident that Indiana’s health care system had the capacity to care for COVID-19 patients and that the state could react effectively to new spread of the coronavirus.

The state health department said Friday that another 20 Hoosiers had died from COVID-19, raising Indiana’s pandemic toll to 13,069 confirmed or presumed coronavirus-related deaths.

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