Following revelations this past week that President Donald Trump had acknowledged the danger posed by COVID-19 in private, then downplayed its seriousness to the public, it was inevitable that someone would ask Gov. Eric Holcomb to weigh in.
That happened at Wednesday’s statewide press conference and in true political fashion, Holcomb sidestepped giving commentary about the president’s words and actions to instead talk about how he and Indiana have responded to the virus.
“I’ll continue to, here in the State of Indiana, rely on physicians and scientists and epidemiologists to give me all the right counsel before we make any decision, but we’ll never downplay it here.”
With six months now past since Indiana had its first COVID-19 case, we agree.
On March 16, the date when Holcomb announced Indiana’s first death from COVID-19, the governor said this:
“To those who think that we may be overreacting, I can assure you that we are not. Indiana is under a public health emergency and we are, make no mistake about it, at war with COVID-19 and we will win this war, which requires us on a daily, if not hourly basis, to be nimble enough, agile enough, to update our battle plan. And when I say ‘us,’ I mean all of us doing our part.”
In the months that have passed since, Holcomb has shown balance and restraint and proved that he is not dictated by political winds blowing out of Washington or elsewhere in the nation.
The far left has often criticized Holcomb for not doing enough. The far right has blasted him for giving too much credence to a virus they don’t view as terribly dangerous.
The left has shouted for masks and mail-in ballots. The right has shouted for faster and fuller reopening.
In the middle, the governor has deflected criticisms from both ends and stayed a steady course, making reasoned adjustments as needed.
Yes, Indiana did go through a shutdown for more than a month. Yes, Indiana did adopt a stepped reopening plan that was making good progress before stalling in July. And yes, Indiana does now have a statewide mask mandate.
But when you look back the timing of those events, they weren’t at the forefront when other trigger-happy Democratic governors jumped first and they also weren’t late when other head-in-the-sand Republican governors moved last or not at all.
Because of it, Indiana’s course through the pandemic hasn’t been flashy. Our state doesn’t make splashy conservative news headlines about crippled economies like Democratic-run New York and California who closed early and stayed closed longer. It likewise doesn’t make sensational headlines on liberal news outlets about cases run rampant like we saw with Republican-run Florida or Georgia.
No, with Holcomb at the helm, Indiana is chugging ahead steady and solid with little fanfare, doing about as well as any state could expect to do amid the circumstances.
Holcomb has proved he puts his trust in Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box and other doctors with him every Wednesday as he addresses the state more than in the White House, the political gab or the social media mobs both left and right clamoring for him to do more.
Holcomb doesn’t downplay the risk, but he also doesn’t give in to hysteria. The moves Indiana makes are calculated, measured and timely based on the situation at hand. Holcomb acts conservatively and doesn’t throw the state government into action until it seems absolutely necessary.
The governor represents the kind of leadership America used to have in less polarized times — thoughtful, reasoned and in the public’s best interest regardless of the political cost.
Hoosiers should consider themselves lucky to have installed such good leadership in this ongoing war against COVID-19.
OUR VIEW is written on a rotating basis by Dave Kurtz, Grace Housholder, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. Publisher Terry Housholder is also a member of the editorial board. We welcome readers’ comments.