NewsHealth / April 19, 2020

Coronavirus: Holcomb To Extend 'Stay-At-Home,' Protesters Push To Reopen Economy

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the governor's mansion waiving flags and signs to protest the state's "Stay-At-Home" order.  - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the governor's mansion waiving flags and signs to protest the state's "Stay-At-Home" order.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 59 additional deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 562. The state announced more than 11,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 61,000 Hoosiers tested.

Holcomb To Extend 'Stay-At-Home' Order, Elaborates On Reopening Economy

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s asking for input from businesses and associations across the state to help determine what sectors of the economy may begin to gradually reopen.

Holcomb announced Friday he would be extending the state’s “Stay-At-Home” order through May 1, falling in line with neighboring states. Holcomb says he is working with the Indiana Hospital Association to ease restrictions on elective procedures, as long as personal protective equipment supplies and hospital capacity remain level. 

He says plans to reopen businesses are being made now, so Indiana doesn’t fall behind.

GOP Election Commission Members Reject Some Primary Voting Changes

Republicans on the Indiana Election Commission rejected Democrats’ attempt Friday to loosen some restrictions for the June 2 primary election.

The state already pushed back the election from May in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. And the commission Friday approved more changes, such as limiting in-person voting to the week leading up to and including Election Day.

But Democrats pushed for more. One proposal would have allowed Hoosiers to request an absentee vote-by-mail ballot up to eight days before the election (instead of the current 12.) Another would have allowed those absentee ballots to come in as late as three days after June 2 – right now, they must be in by noon on Election Day.

Hundreds Protest 'Stay-At-Home' Order Outside Governor's Mansion

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the governor’s mansion Saturday to protest Indiana’s “Stay-At-Home” order. Demonstrators say the plan to slowly reopen businesses in less than two weeks isn’t fast enough. 

Protesters lined the street in front of the governor’s mansion waving American flags and holding signs as supporters honked in passing. One of those protesters, Jennifer Gallagher, is a small business owner and mother of a high school senior.

She says Gov. Eric Holcomb has overreached and overreacted to the global pandemic.

"The reason that we should be all working is because when the healthy, working people–we’re the ones that take care of the sick and the weak people. But we have to work to do that," Gallagher says.

Indiana Banks Urge Congress To Pass New Funding For Small Businesses

Small businesses have rushed to get federal assistance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Indiana banks are urging Congress to boost funding.

Banks across the state have been working around the clock to submit applications for small business loans. As of Thursday, more than $7 billion had been secured through the federal Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What The Expanded 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

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That funding, approved by Congress last month in response to COVID-19 causing a shutdown of the economy, ran out of money Thursday. The Small Business Administration (SBA) also announced this week that the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) had been exhausted of funds, leaving some small businesses unable to receive needed economic relief.

Indiana Bankers Association CEO Amber Van Til says banks were surveyed Friday morning on how many loan applications were still sitting on desks.

Recovery Resources Adapt To COVID-19 Social Distancing, 'Stay-At-Home' Orders

The COVID-19 crisis disrupted life for everyone. But it's a unique challenge for Hoosiers with a substance use disorder. In-person meetings are often an essential part of the recovery process. Those in the recovery community are finding new ways to meet those needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shelby Pratt is almost 18 months sober. She says a big part of her recovery was attending 12-step meetings – like Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. But right now, she can’t go to meetings because of social distancing.

“I know several people including myself that would love to just get out and hit a meeting. You know it’s very vital, meetings, readings, studying our AA, NA, HA books. All of that is very vital to our sobriety,” Pratt says.

Pratt says without meetings and resources, there’s a good chance people might relapse.

“You know, it's going to be hard for a lot of people it really is, especially people that are early on in their sobriety, even people that are 25 years strong,” she says.

According to the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, the state’s addiction hotlines have seen an increase in calls during the coronavirus pandemic. While it normally receives 20 calls a week, it is now seeing 20 a day.

Why March's Unemployment Rate Didn't Capture COVID-19

Just last week, more than 118,000 Hoosiers filed applications for unemployment benefits. That’s the second week those claim numbers have decreased since late March, but still dramatically higher than the 2,000 to 3,000 claims filed per week in all of February. The reason it doesn’t show up in March’s relatively low 3.2 percent unemployment rate has to do with how the information is collected.

Rachel Blakeman is the director of the Community Research Institute at Purdue University Fort Wayne. She says since the unemployment survey was conducted on March 12, it doesn’t capture the effects of the governor’s “Stay-At-Home” order a week later. 

Indiana Extends FAFSA Deadline After Fewer Students File

The state has extended the filing deadline for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The change comes as the state reports a drop in the percent of Hoosiers filing and K-12 school buildings remain closed.

There is not a new official filing deadline; instead, financial awards will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis. 

Charlee Beasor is the spokesperson for the Indiana Commission For Higher Education. She says the deadline extension was prompted in part by concerns that fewer students have adequate access to online resources and filing help while school buildings are shut.

Food Distribution Project Packs Meals Out Of Lucas Oil Stadium

The need for food assistance is growing quickly across Indiana. Last week, the Salvation Army, Midwest Food Bank, and the Indiana National Guard met at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, to pack 10,000 food boxes. 

They will send the boxes statewide. Incident Commander for the Salvation Army Indiana Division Lt. Vinal Lee says they’ve almost accomplished their goal. 

"Kind of working down this assembly line to put vital food items into these boxes, get them on a pallet, wrap them and get them out the door," says Lee, "so we can get them on trucks and shipped out across the state."

The boxes are filled with nonperishable items and provide a week’s worth of meals for a family of four. They will be distributed to pantries and other existing partners around the state.

Ball State Plans For Smaller Budget After Coronavirus Closures

Ball State University says it’s planning for a smaller budget next fiscal year, as the economy’s coronavirus hit could threaten its state appropriation and enrollment numbers.

President Geoffrey Mearns says the university likely won’t have to borrow money, like some other schools. But he says the Muncie campus is planning for a budget that may affect some programs and services.

“You know, our two principal revenue sources are state appropriation and tuition that we derive from our enrollment. And, in this extraordinary environment, both of those major revenue sources are at risk.”

Mearns says during the Great Recession, Ball State’s appropriation from Indiana declined by six percent. In today’s dollars, that would equal a loss of $8 million.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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.

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