NewsHealth / March 17, 2020

Coronavirus: Indiana Reports Two COVID-19 Deaths, Governor Takes Steps To Curb Virus

Coronavirus: Indiana Reports Two COVID-19 Deaths, Governor Takes Steps To Curb VirusGov. Eric Holcomb announced a host of new measures the state will take to help curb the spread of COVID-19. And a Marion County resident who died Monday morning was Indianas first death. The Indiana State Department of Health announced Tuesday morning a Johnson County resident had died. coronavirus, COVID-192020-03-17T00:00:00-04:00
Article origination IPBS-RJC
Coronavirus: Indiana Reports Two COVID-19 Deaths, Governor Takes Steps To Curb Virus

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Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a host of new measures the state will take to help curb the spread of COVID-19. And a Marion County resident who died Monday morning was Indiana’s first death. The Indiana State Department of Health announced Tuesday morning a Johnson County resident had died. 

Indiana’s First COVID-19 Deaths

Holcomb announced a Marion County resident died from the novel coronavirus Monday morning. The Indiana State Department of Health said in a statement they were older than 60, had been hospitalized because of COVID-19 and had underlying health conditions. 

Tuesday morning, ISDH said in a statement a second Hoosier had died, a Johnson County resident who was over the age of 60.

“While we had hoped, prayed and worked hard so this painful day would never occur, sadly we knew it would. Still sadly, we anticipate that it will again,” Holcomb says.

Community Health Network’s Dr. Ramarao Yeleti says it underscores the need for Hoosiers to practice social distancing and self-isolation.

“Individuals that are young, college kids – all of you are saying, ‘Well, it’s not going to affect me.’ You’re not going to get sick but you will get somebody else sick,” Yeleti says.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, mild cough, shortness of breath and tiredness.

Restaurants, Bars Ordered To Close

Indiana will join neighboring states like Illinois, Ohio and Kentucky in closing bars, nightclubs and restaurants to in-person patrons. Take-out and delivery will still be allowed. Holcomb says the closures are mandated through the end of March – for now.

Holcomb says he understands the economic hardship of the measures he’s taking.

“The more we do now … the better we’ll be down the line,” Holcomb says. “And so we will respond to the facts on the ground and be courageous enough to make the decisions that need to be made.”

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association says 14 percent of Hoosiers work in those industries and could face reduced hours and layoffs.

Indiana Business Research Center co-director Carol Rogers says the measure is needed to keep the state's workforce safe, but it will have an immediate effect on the economy, especially the service industry.

“So that’s going to take a particular hit and we’re talking millions of dollars being shaved off our gross product,” Rogers says.

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

Local businesses reacted to the news across Indiana. In Muncie, The Caffeinery co-owner Frank Reber says his business is trying to get creative to serve customers while staying safe.

“We’ve been having a lot of long nights and meetings trying to figure out, you know, what’s the best way to do this and how to do it in a way that makes sense, so as to not have to let go of any of our staff,” Reber says.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett took the recommendations a step farther by ordering breweries and bars that do not serve food to close, in addition to movie theaters, gyms, and entertainment venues. He also declared a local disaster emergency, which advises against travel, except for essentials – like work, groceries and medicine. 

‘Tip List’ Launched To Help Indianapolis Service Workers

Many service workers expect to take a financial hit after the state ordered restaurants and bars to switch to delivery or take-out options only. To address the issue, an Indianapolis man created a spreadsheet that allows would-be patrons to find and tip servers online.

Jeb Banner launched a Google form Monday morning for Indianapolis service workers to enter their name, workplace and Venmo account information. Then, would-be patrons can find their favorite restaurants and servers and give tips. He says the idea came when he was talking to friends about ways to help local businesses and workers financially survive the coronavirus outbreak.

Experts Warn Against Hoarding

Many stores are having trouble keeping shelves stockedwith goods during the coronavirus outbreak. One expert warns that could have negative consequences for some of the most vulnerable to the virus.

Health officials continue to warn people not to hoard products. Some stores including Target are limiting customers on the quantity of certain products to try to help more customers get the items they need.

Consumers have rushed to the store buying out items including hand sanitizer, toilet paper, bottled water and non-perishables.

Public School Corporations

The governor’s statement said 273 public school districts are closed – either using e-learning days or on spring break with future closures. The Department of Education is working with the remaining 16 school corporations to determine their next steps and needs.

In a memo sent to superintendents late Friday, the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE) announced Indiana would seek "forgiveness" for required state tests, including the IREAD-3 and ILEARN.

Hospitals, Health Facilities

The governor’s office recommended hospitals and surgical centers cancel or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures – with the caveat that physicians should continue to perform critical procedures. 

IU Health and other hospital systems have already restricted visitor access across the state.

Purdue, Indiana State Move To Online Learning

Purdue University students will learn remotely for the rest of the spring semester, and the majority of students who live in on-campus housing are being urged to return home or find other accommodations. 

Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Provost Jay Akridge announced their decision one day after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new policies regarding the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus, recommending that groups of 50 people or more should not gather for events. They noted that while the CDC guidelines do not apply to colleges and universities at the moment, that standard could change. 

Indiana State University also announced Monday afternoon it would move to remote learning through the end of the spring semester.

This story has been updated.

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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