By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Holcomb pleads vax as COVID surges

A frustrated Gov. Eric Holcomb firmly believes the control of the COVID-19 pandemic now lies in the hands of local governments and school boards. In a press conference this morning, he was asked about whether he would reinstate mask mandates or other restrictions in light of the pandemic surge that is swamping ICU beds in four of 10 regions and is forecast to kill another 6,000 Hoosiers by Dec. 1.

“No, we heard loud and clear from locals they wanted this to be a locally mandated, fully supported,” Holcomb said. “It’s regrettable that so many of our kids are out of the classroom on any given one day. It’s not just regrettable, it’s avoidable. And to the skeptics, to the unbelievers and deniers, I would just plead to look at the facts, to look at the numerical data that shows we can all stay safe if you get vaccinated. That is my appeal is to get vaccinated. This is what is interfering with our supply chains, this is what is holding part of our economy back, this is what is keeping our kids out of school. While we have 3.1 million and some who are vaccinated, the balance leaves a lot to spread and that is having an adverse effect on others, not just potentially yourself but others, and our economy, and our kids’ education. I would just ask that you think beyond yourself.”

Asked again about returning to restrictions he instituted in March 2020, Holcomb said, “I am trying to do everything I can to get people to see the answer to the problem and the answer to the problem is to get vaccinated. And I hate it that people have to learn that cold hard fact through death and hospitalization and negative impact on the ones they love, after the fact. The answer is the vaccine. The further we stray from that fact, the longer this will take.” Asked if there was a “data point” that might change his position, Holcomb said, “I don’t have on in mind at this time.”

2. Governor welcomes Afghan refugees

Gov. Holcomb appeared with Indiana National Guard Adj. Gen. Dale Lyles to explain how the 5,000 Afghan refugees coming to Camp Atterbury will be handled. Lyles said that there will be no risk from the evacuees. “That risk has all been eliminated by the vetting process,” Lyles said. Holcomb added, “We want to be there to welcome these evacuees to permanent freedom. I do believe that folks will fall in love with Indiana as much as we have. I hope they will stay here.” Asked about concerns and paranoias expressed on social media about the refugees, Holcomb said, “I would appeal to people’s hearts and minds in the sense that these are the same folks who for decades have assisted and aided us on a very dangerous terrain; translators helping with the military, helping with our diplomatic efforts, people who worry about waking up tomorrow. For those out there who question, this is where transparency will be paramount in what we’re sharing in real time.”

3. Holcomb on Cpl. Sanchez

Gov. Holcomb had this to say about Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez of Logansport, one of 13 U.S. servicemen and women killed in the terror attack at the Kabul airport last week during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan: “Cpl. Sanchez, after receiving orders, stood in a very dangerous gap and leaves citizens like us forever in his debt. We must never forget, always remember, honor his legacy and vow to be there for his Gold Star family. He served the very evacuees who will get off the plane tired, off-balanced, psychologically-strained, hungry, dealing with health issues, having only a backpack to their name so that may be they could enjoy and appreciate that very piece of security that we do now.”

4. Redistricting portal 

Republican legislative leaders announced a redistricting portal http://iga.in.gov/redistricting/ on Tuesday. Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston said the portal, which allows Hoosiers to draw and submit their proposed new district boundaries for the U.S. House of Representatives, the Indiana House of Representatives and the Indiana Senate, is now live and available online. “This portal is a great opportunity for Hoosiers to share their proposed maps with lawmakers," Bray said. "We hope to see citizens take advantage of this portal as we prepare to return to session." Informational resources, including instructional videos on how to use the software, can be found on the state's redistricting website. In addition, 19 Ivy Tech campuses are offering free, on-site assistance to anyone who needs help using the portal. "Our new census data shows many changes to our state's population over the last 10 years and that's why the redistricting process is so important," Huston said. "As a representative democracy, we need to make sure constituents' voices are heard."

5. Wentz on COVID list; Reich frustrated

On a day the New England Patriots cut former MVP quarterback Cam Newton for violating COVID protocols, Indianapolis Colts coach Frank Reich expressed frustrations after QB Carson Wentz and two other starters were placed on the team’s COVID bench. “I’ve had a lot of conversations and I think it’s fair to say, at times, I get frustrated,” Reich said. “I do try to listen and respect but I also don’t shy away from saying what I believe and what I believe is right — the research that I’ve done. I don’t hesitate in saying what I think is best for the team, but we’ll continue to reiterate this is an individual decision. We respect that.”

Thanks for reading, folks. It's The Atomic!