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Marion County leaders talk COVID-19 plan amid NCAA games

The mayor and public health director are confident in their plan to keep coronavirus cases under control.

INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County health officials gave an update Thursday morning on the response to the coronavirus pandemic as the city gets ready to host all of March Madness.

The county health department is working with the NCAA and the venues to come up with a final safety plan for the games.

But Mayor Hogsett said while fans will be attending, now is not the time to give up on the safety precautions we've all been doing this year like wearing masks and social distancing.

"As we enter this next stretch, we must resist the temptation to stray away from these basic principles these basic fundamentals," Hogsett said. "Earlier this week the CDC provided guidance for those who are fully vaccinated. It is cause for hope, especially for older residents, longing to visit their children and their grandchildren. But it wasn't meant to be a signal to return to a pre-pandemic normal."

RELATED: Hogsett sees 'light at the end of the tunnel'

County officials said they will also keep an open eye — making sure capacity limits are being followed.

"We're going to up our surveillance related to the different businesses related to March Madness and really continue to try to warn people if it looks like a really egregious event, we may have to close events," said Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine.

Officials said they are confident of their plan to keep cases under control, as Marion County now has a positivity rate below 3 percent.

"We have all had a year of practice to prepare for this final stretch. I want Indianapolis and I know you do too to be in that winner’s circle," Hogsett said.

They aren't so worried about the basketball games as much as what comes after.

RELATED: One year after an abrupt halt to tourney, downtown is prepared for dozens of basketball games

"It's spring break! You look at what is happening in Florida. I am asking everybody who is going on spring break to please continue to practice what you practice in our county," Caine said. "If you go to some states where the cases are significantly high, you need to quarantine and isolate when you come back into our community."

Marion County has a travel advisory website that shows current COVID cases in other states before any travel.

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