The Indiana State Department of Health announced Thursday three more Hoosiers have died from the novel coronavirus. Nearly 650 cases have been confirmed in the state, as testing reaches more than 4,500.
Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s pleased by the progress with his "Stay-At-Home" order since it took effect Wednesday – despite many questions about how it’s working and whether people are following it.
State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says he’s gotten a few reports about police stopping people, asking for proof that they’re allowed to be out under the "Stay-At-Home" order.
“There is no need in Indiana, anywhere in Indiana – in any city, any county in Indiana – where you have to have a document explaining that you’re essential or not,” Carter says.
Carter urges people who feel they’ve been wrongly targeted to report that to the Indiana State Police.
Indiana could move to a vote-by-mail-only primary election this year if the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t improve in time.
That’s one of the things brought up by the Indiana Election Commission as it finalized the rules this week for the state’s primary, which was moved from May 5 to June 2.
The state will allow any registered Hoosier to vote via mail-in ballot for the primary, while still allowing in-person voting.
Hoosiers who wish to vote by mail must mail in an application to their county election board. Those applications can be accessed on the Secretary of State's website. The Commission is also urging the state Election Division to create an online application that won't need to be mailed in.
The Indiana National Guard coordinated with the Indiana State Department of Health, Department of Transportation and State Police to get hundreds of boxes of supplies to counties across the state.
As more supplies come in, Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles says the Guard will continue to work as a distribution point.
He says the supplies are provided based on both need and predictive analytics from the state health department.
But state officials have so far declined to release information on its ventilator supply.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box declined to give the number of ICU beds available in the state, as well. On Thursday, she again refused to provide numbers.
Brian Houston, director of the Disaster and Community Crisis Center at the University of Missouri, says a lack of information from state officials can be problematic.
“Not providing the information makes the situation worse. We see it time and time again in terms of disaster and crisis response,” Houston says.
Nearly 3.3 million Americans filed to receive unemployment benefits last week, the most ever in one week according to the Department of Labor. That number includes almost 54,000 Hoosiers, as many businesses temporarily shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Compared to the same week last year, many Indiana counties saw an unemployment increase in the thousands. The biggest spike was in Clark County where unemployment claims increased just shy of 10,000 percent. According to the Department of Labor, the main industries affected were food services and accommodation with entertainment, transportation, warehousing and manufacturing taking big hits, too.
The federal and Indiana state government have expanded eligibility for unemployment insurance to include workers who are unable to maintain employment as a result of COVID-19.
Indiana Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne says help is coming for the self-employed and independent contractors.
Payne says the federal aid package coming through Congress allows those workers to apply for unemployment benefits. It also extends the maximum amount of time someone can access unemployment from 26 weeks to 39.
Payne urges people who have questions to visit the state’s website: unemployment.in.gov. And he says they can call the Department of Workforce Development if their questions still need answers.
The Indianapolis 500 will not be run on Memorial Day weekend this year. The race has been rescheduled to Aug. 23 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 104th running of the race is the first since Roger Penske took ownership of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this year.
Expressing his disappointment, Penske says the decision came in response to the health and safety of event participants and spectators.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway said in a statement tickets already purchased for the Indianapolis 500 will be valid on the rescheduled dates.
The abrupt halt to spring sports due to the coronavirus pandemic has taken athletes by surprise at every level, but some high school seniors say they're learning more about gratitude amidst the rapidly changing situation for students and schools.
Indiana's school closures will eat up most, if not all, of the spring season, and some athletes have to sort out what that means for their college sports careers too.
The fate of the rest of the school year and school-based sports have yet to be fully determined.
Ball State, South Bend Community Schools Use Buses For Wi-Fi
As people are told to stay at home to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, that might not be possible for those who don’t have an internet connection or reliable service. Now, Ball State University is turning a local parking lot into a Wi-Fi hotspot.
Fawn Gary, Ball State’s associate vice president for information technology, says Ball State is asking those who work in the parking lot to stay in their cars with the windows rolled up. Don’t leave kids unattended in cars, especially as spring temperatures begin to warm up Indiana.
South Bend Community Schools got some of their buses outfitted as Wi-Fi hotspots so they could be deployed during snow day e-learning this school year. When school was closed for the coronavirus, the buses were ready to roll.
“People can access, for free, the Wi-Fi that is on that bus and it branches out about 300 feet we’re told,” said Susan Devetski, the Chief Academic Officer for South Bend.
Devetski said they park in front of apartment complexes and in parking lots in places in South Bend where parents say they can’t get Wi-Fi otherwise.
The newest federal coronavirus relief package moving through Congress is nearly 900 pages long. With that comes questions on the details of exactly how that relief will work. Many questions are coming from small businesses, especially about how they can begin accessing loans of up to $10 million.
Sen. Todd Young (R-Indiana) says the small business relief is in the form of loans, but calls them “forgivable loans.” As he explains, there will be federal oversight.
“If that loan is used to meet direct fixed costs – payroll, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenditures, then, and all of that will be audited in the fall, then that is forgiven. If instead we discover that $100,000 was borrowed and $20,000 of that was used for capital expenditures, then $20,000 will have to be paid back.”
Farmers are also eligible to apply for the loans.
As for individual relief payments, Young says he believes it’s realistic that Hoosiers will get direct cash payments from the government by the April 6 date set by the Trump Administration.
The Robinson Shakespeare Company at the University of Notre Dame is usually an after school drama program for kids. Because of the coronavirus, those kids are out of school and performances are cancelled. The company has turned to using Shakespeare to promote proper handwashing.
Twenty second songs, like ‘My Country Tis of Thee,’ or ‘Happy Birthday,’ (twice) are the usual recommended methods for timing your handwashing. But students at the Robinson Company are using Shakespeare.
This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.