The Journal Gazette
Sunday, April 05, 2020 1:00 am

Holcomb declines to be tested for virus

BRIAN FRANCISCO and NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

Gov. Eric Holcomb said last week he doesn't need to be tested for COVID-19 because he has no symptoms.

This is despite having contact with Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive for Community Health, at two news conferences. Yeleti has now been confirmed positive for the coronavirus.

Holcomb said the last time he was with the doctor was March 19, which is now past the 14-day isolation period.

“I'm not showing any symptoms. I've got doctors that are looking at me constantly, and I'm practicing what they have preached,” he said. “Don't plan to be tested unless I start to show symptoms.”

He also said his thoughts and prayers are with Yeleti.

Blame game

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks has been ramping up his efforts to place the blame for the coronavirus pandemic on Chinese government leaders.

In numerous tweets, Fox News interviews and a House resolution, Banks, R-3rd, has accused China's Communist Party of understating and covering up the severity of that nation's COVID-19 outbreak over the winter and silencing doctors and journalists who sounded alarms.

Banks on Tuesday called for the State Department to investigate the disappearances of three Chinese citizen-journalists who had reported on the coronavirus. In a letter to the department, he urged the imposition of financial and travel sanctions against anybody found responsible for the mistreatment of those journalists.

His letter stated that China is “engaged in a global propaganda blitz downplaying its culpability for the coronavirus pandemic.”

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that U.S. intelligence community officials told the White House that China had concealed the extent of its COVID-19 outbreak and deliberately underreported infection cases and deaths.

Also on Wednesday, the Daily Caller reported that Banks “first drew attention to the pandemic” in Congress with a Jan. 27 tweet linking to a story in the Washington Examiner carrying the headline “Coronavirus may have originated in lab linked to China's biowarfare program.” The story quoted a former Israeli military intelligence officer as saying that virus research laboratories in Wuhan, China, where the virus is believed to have started, “have probably been engaged” in covert biological weapons research and development.

“We floated that tweet as a message to other leaders on the (Capitol) Hill and the administration about what we could potentially be facing,” Banks told the Daily Caller, which pointed out that Banks tweeted on Jan. 31 that the coronavirus was spreading as quickly as the Spanish flu had in 1918. 

The Examiner on March 25 posted an editor's note to its story stating that scientists outside China “concluded (the virus) does not show signs of having been manufactured or purposefully manipulated in a lab.” Scientists have said the most likely source of the virus was an animal.

Reuters on Thursday reported that a Chinese government official said China had been “open and transparent” about its coronavirus outbreak.

Other members of Congress have been trying to turn up the heat on China. For instance, Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., tweeted Thursday, “There are countries, like China, who see #coronavirus as an opportunity to exploit our public health crisis through disinformation, grabbing market shares around the world & stealing intellectual property.”

Meanwhile, the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council has said that it has been receiving 100 reports a day of anti-Asian harassment in the United States, and the FBI has warned of an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

Governors rated over response

Politico last week rated the best and worst governors in terms of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a mix of Republicans and Democrats on both sides of the coin.

Gov. Eric Holcomb made neither of the lists, which was no surprise to many insiders who often view the governor as taking the middle-road approach to governing – nothing too splashy and nothing too scandalous.

Politico's top governors were Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Its worst governors were Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, Hawaii Gov. David Ige, West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey.

'Tiger King' rears its head

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently confessed to joining the masses in watching “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” the wildly popular docuseries on Netflix.

The host of “The Smiley Morning Show,” broadcast by Indianapolis radio station WZPL, asked Holcomb on March 25 whether he was finding time to relax during the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus.

Holcomb admitted that he and his wife, Janet, watched “Tiger King” late one night because he had heard a lot about it.

“Holy cow. Holy cow,” the governor said. “That's a cast of characters right there.”

To reach Political Notebook by email, contact Brian Francisco at or Niki Kelly at An expanded Political Notebook can be found as a daily blog at

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