By TOM DAVIES

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s governor on Thursday ordered all public and private schools across the state remain closed to students until at least May 1 among steps aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.

All Indiana public school districts had already decided to close or shift to online classwork, but Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he was ordering that closure and extended it to private K-12 schools.

Holcomb said the order keeping schools closed until May will be reviewed in the coming weeks and could be extended longer.

Holcomb has also signed orders aimed at easing applications for unemployment benefits and delaying the deadline for state income tax payments until July 15.

Seventeen new coronavirus infection cases have been confirmed around Indiana, jumping the state’s total to 56, health officials said Thursday.

The virus causing COVID-19 illnesses has now been identified in 22 of Indiana’s 92 counties — including Clark and Jennings County in southern Indiana — the Indiana State Department of Health reported. Eight of the new cases are in Indianapolis, with others confirmed among residents of Howard, Lake, Owen, St. Joseph, Tippecanoe and Wayne counties.

Indiana has recorded two COVID-19 deaths, one each in Marion and Johnson counties.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and the state health commissioner planned a Thursday afternoon news conference to discuss the state’s virus response.

All public schools across the state are now closed to students in an attempt to slow spread of the virus, the governor’s office said Wednesday. At least one district in southeastern Indiana has decided not to resume in-person classes this school year.

Several auto plants and other factories are closing around Indiana as the economic fallout spreads with recommendations of no public gatherings of more than 50 people and Holcomb’s call for restaurants and bars to halt in-person service.

The owners of the two largest hotels in downtown Indianapolis are considering temporary closures a’mid drastic declines in business.

The 1,005-room JW Marriott Indianapolis and other hotels across the country owned by Merrillville-based White Lodging are seeing occupancy rates in the low single digits, company Chairman Bruce White told the Indianapolis Business Journal. The 650-room Indianapolis Marriott Downtown also is considering closing temporarily, the IBJ reported.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to recover.