NewsHealth / May 20, 2020

Coronavirus: State Moves To Next Stage 3 Early, AARP Calls For Long-Term Care Transparency

Article origination IPBS-RJC
A store in Liberty, Indiana, advertises selling American flags, Trump hats and coronavirus cleaning supplies.  - Justin Hicks/IPB News

A store in Liberty, Indiana, advertises selling American flags, Trump hats and coronavirus cleaning supplies.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 38 additional confirmed deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,716. The state announced more than 29,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 195,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Moves Early To Next Reopening Stage; Gatherings Of 100 Allowed

Indiana is moving forward early to the next stage of its plan to relax COVID-19 restrictions. Stage 3 of the governor’s “Back On Track” timeline will now begin Friday for all but three counties statewide.

That next stage – originally set to begin May 24 – allows gyms, fitness centers, community pools, campgrounds, playgrounds and tennis and basketball courts to open within social distancing restrictions and sanitation guidelines.

Gov. Eric Holcomb says the early transition is possible because he says most Hoosiers have continued to follow mask-wearing, social distancing and hand-washing recommendations.

“If you are 65 and older or if you have underlying health conditions, we’re still telling you to be uber-cautious,” Holcomb says.

Tippecanoe County Officials Stress Importance Of Masks As Gathering Sizes Increase

Tippecanoe County officials urged residents to wear face masks to protect themselves and others as Stage 3 of Indiana's reopening plan begins -- now two days earlier than planned, on Friday, May 22 -- and as the county reported its third death from COVID-19. The Indiana State Department of Health also reported 331 cases in Tippecanoe County Wednesday, a one-day increase of 18. 

READ MORE: Governor Holcomb Outlines How – And Why – The State Will Reopen

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Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler, citing a Fairbanks School of Public Health study that reported 44.8 percent of Hoosiers with COVID-19 showed no symptoms, said that statistic showed why face coverings are important. 

“When I wear a mask in a public setting, I am helping those around me -- just in case I happen to be one of those individuals who is carrying the virus but displaying no symptoms,” Adler said. “In turn, when other people around me are wearing masks, they are protecting me, in case they are an asymptomatic carrier of the virus.” 

AARP Pushes State For More Long-Term Care Facility Transparency; State Says Communication Should Be Local

AARP Indiana is calling on the state to release more detailed data on cases of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.

The group sent a letter this week to Holcomb, the Indiana State Department of Health and the Family and Social Services Administration calling for greater transparency.

All of Indiana’s neighboring states continue to release detailed data on COVID-19 cases in long-term care facilities.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box says that the policy isn’t to protect any nursing home.

“I’m not trying to protect anybody,” Box says. “What I am trying to do is, emphasize is, the importance of that communication occurring between the facility with the residents and with their representatives, and have continued to support that all along.”

Some Doctors Struggle With Guilt Amid COVID-19 Crisis

Doctors have high rates of burnout, depression and suicide. But there’s a less-understood emotion doctors also struggle with: guilt.

About 20 or so women were gathered for a late afternoon video conference. Some had glasses of wine, or cups of coffee. You could see pets in a few frames. It was March 26, when COVID-19 cases were beginning to ramp up in Indiana.

One of the women, Dr. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, posed a question: Was anyone else feeling guilty? 

“I kind of figured that if I was feeling that way, I'm sure a couple of others were,” Rohr-Kirchgraber recalls. “Maybe giving voice to it would help me address it in some way and help to take away a little bit of the pain.” 

The Zoom session was a wellness meeting for women faculty at the Indiana University School of Medicine. Since the start of the pandemic, the group has gathered virtually to check in and provide emotional support.

Rohr-Kirchgraber's feelings of guilt resonated with another woman in the meeting, Dr. Cindy Brown. 

“I was really, for several weeks, having a lot of trouble sleeping,” Brown says.

In-Person St. Joseph County 4-H Fair Canceled, Elkhart County Fair Waiting To Make A Decision

Fairs in Indiana could be allowed to open on or after July 4, with some restrictions, under Holcomb’s “Back On Track” plan. Several local fairs have started making decisions about whether or not to open this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a Facebook post, the St. Joseph County 4-H Fair announced Wednesday its decision to cancel. A virtual fair will be held in its place. Board members say it isn’t financially or logistically practical to safely host an in-person fair this summer.

The Starke County 4-H Fair is also cancelled for similar reasons.

But the Elkhart County 4-H Fair is holding off on making any decisions just yet. That fair is scheduled to run from July 24 to Aug. 1. 

IU Sees Spike In Summer Enrollment During COVID-19 Pandemic

Indiana University has reported record-high summer enrollment amid the current global pandemic. Across the university’s campuses, 33,201 people have enrolled in summer classes which is up by nearly 6 percent according to a university press release. The Bloomington campus is reporting a 22 percent increase from last year’s enrollment.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney says he thinks plans interrupted by the pandemic could have led students to enroll in more online summer courses.

“If these are students who are currently enrolled, advancing toward a degree this is a perfect opportunity to go ahead and make some progress on that because your other plans have fallen to the wayside,” Carney says.

Contact Lauren at 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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