March 22, 2020

Coronavirus: Indiana Primary Delayed Until June, State Reports Additional Deaths

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Store, like Big Lots, have started reserving the first hour of business for people over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions. - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Store, like Big Lots, have started reserving the first hour of business for people over the age of 60 and those with underlying health conditions.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Friday afternoon, the Indiana State Department of Health announced a second Marion County resident had died. Over the weekend four more deaths were reported.

State’s Death Total Reaches 7 On Sunday

Four more Hoosiers died over the weekend from the novel coronavirus. The latest deaths came from Delaware, Allen, Marion and Scott counties. All were over the age of 50 and had underlying health conditions. The Scott County resident had been diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday.

Scott County was at the center of an HIV epidemic in 2015, which is an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome. Scott County Health Department’s Brittany Combs released a video statement in response to the death. 

“We in Scott County have a very large immunocompromised population. We all have to work really, really hard at following these rules so we can protect that vulnerable population,” Combs says.

The number of cases getting tested are growing exponentially, in part because of better access to testing. State Health Commissioner Kris Box says Eli Lilly is ramping up testing, to the point that it will process several hundred tests by the end of the weekend. Lilly is also offering free testing to Indianapolis-area health care workers. 

As of Friday, the state had processed 554 tests. By Sunday, that had grown to 1,494. With that increased testing, there are more confirmed cases – that number has jumped from 79 on Friday to 201 on Sunday.

Indiana Primary Election Delayed, Vote-By-Mail Expanded

Indiana’s 2020 primary election will move to June 2 in response to COVID-19 concerns.

LEE MAS: ¿Qué Necesita Saber Acerca Del Coronavirus? Tenemos Respuestas.

READ MORE: What Do You Need To Know About Coronavirus? We’ve Got Answers.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson and state party leaders announced the unprecedented change Friday.

As part of the shift, the Election Commission is expected to allow all Hoosiers to vote by mail without an excuse – though Lawson says some clerks are worried they don’t have the capacity for that.

Moving Indiana’s primary election to June 2 could have a ripple effect on this year’s Democratic and Republican state party conventions, slated for mid-June.

Indiana Republican Party Chair Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Party Chair John Zody both say all options are on the table for how and when the conventions will happen.

E-Learning Highlights Access Disparity

Many closed schools are adapting lessons to continue online or with other take-home materials, but one expert says expecting all students to keep learning at the same pace from home can widen existing equity gaps in education.

Indiana University professor Jessica Calarco studies the relationship between school-related inequality and societal inequality on families. And she says, having all the necessary tools to do regular school work from home – like a working laptop or tablet and an internet connection – is tougher for low-income kids.

"Because they don't have the resources to buy the fancy new devices or replace them when they start to break or become less usable," she says.

A Pew Research study from 2015 shows more than one third of low-income students don't have home internet. And according to state data, the number of homeless students in Indiana has nearly doubled in the past decade.

Even for kids who do have the tools to do schoolwork from home, they might be short on the right type and amount of support they're used to getting with teachers in their classroom. 

Communities Work To Feed Students Out Of School

Indianapolis Public Schools has partnered with Gleaners Food Bank to provide food for all IPS students and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.IPS is using their buses to deliver food at 25 locations throughout the city. MSD Warren Township is using a similar system in Indianapolis. And MSD Wayne Township sent buses to stops, delivering meals to students near their homes. 

In Crown Point, a business is helping feed kids by providing bagged lunches for as long as the business is able. Gelsosomo's started handing out free lunches Wednesday.

Automotive Manufacturers Extend Shutdown

Several auto manufacturers announced last Wednesday temporary shutdowns at facilities in response to the novel coronavirus. Now, the Toyota plant in Princeton, Indiana has extended its two-day shutdown through April 3.

The Subaru of Indiana plant in Lafayette also announced its plans to idle until March 29.

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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