NewsHealth / March 24, 2020

Coronavirus: 'Stay-At-Home' Order Goes Into Effect, Enforcement Unclear

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Bovaconti, a coffee shop in Indianapolis, lets customers know it is closed until further notice.  - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Bovaconti, a coffee shop in Indianapolis, lets customers know it is closed until further notice.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Indiana’s “Stay-At-Home” order went into effect at midnight, but questions on how it will be enforced remain unclear. And the Indiana State Department of Health announced Tuesday five more Hoosiers died from the novel coronavirus, bringing the state’s total to 12.

Stay-At-Home Goes Into Effect

Gov. Eric Holcomb says his “Stay-At-Home” order is not meant to be a “hammer” but to emphasize the need to socially distance and self-isolate, thus curbing the spread of COVID-19.

“[The police] are not going to be pulling people over going to and from work," Holcomb says. "If we get into a situation where someone is flaunting, we’ll have to address that on a case-by-case basis.”

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

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

The state has a hotline for businesses to ask questions about the “Stay-At-Home” order. But that’s not meant for employees – even those, Holcomb says, who think they and their company should temporarily close under the order.

Looking Forward, Hospital Capacity

One of the growing concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak is equipment. There are limited ICU beds and ventilators to treat the more severe cases. Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box says there are plans to manufacture more ventilators soon, at the Kokomo General Motors plant.

“We're also working very closely with our major hospital systems to understand their baseline capacity for ICU beds and for ventilators, and what is the realistic surge capacity for those same factors,” Box says. 

The state has about 1,900 ICU beds, according to data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some counties don't have any ICU beds, or even a hospital. Which means the counties that do, are likely to draw patients from surrounding areas.

Eli Lilly Expands Drive-Thru Testing To First Responders

Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company Tuesday expanded free COVID-19 testing to first responders in addition to health care workers.

The company started drive-thru testing for active health care workers on Monday. Chief Scientific Officer Dan Skovronsky says the company recognized the need for testing for some of the people in close contact with the novel coronavirus.

Health care workers and first responders who work in Indianapolis are encouraged to contact Eli Lilly to sign up for testing. A doctor’s note is required.

Eli Lilly’s drive-thru test is not available to the public.

Pay For Hourly School Employees

School buildings are closed statewide until at least May 1, and it's up to locally-elected school boards to decide whether, and how, to pay hourly workers.

When buildings close, schools don't have to pay part-time or hourly employees like janitors, cafeteria workers or classroom support staff, but Indiana School Boards Association executive director Terry Spradlin says he thinks most of them are. 

"We only have anecdotal information to share, and I can say I have not heard of any one school corporation that has decided not to pay non-certified employees during the pandemic," he says. 

Some districts have offered supplemental pay for employees who are still working during COVID-19 closures. School boards only need to adopt a formal resolution to provide pay for workers who aren't reporting to a physical school building. 

How Does Climate Change Increase Pandemic Risk?

Climate change may be putting people at risk for more pandemics like COVID-19. Habitat loss due to climate is bringing animals that can transmit disease in contact with humans more often.

READ MORE: Can Pets Get COVID-19?

Dr. Aaron Bernstein is a pediatrician and the interim director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard University. He says while we don’t know exactly what caused the first case of the novel coronavirus, we do know a lot of other serious outbreaks have started through closer contact with animals.

For example, take the Ebola epidemic in West Africa which coincided with cutting down forests for agriculture.

Purdue Student Tests Positive For COVID-19

Purdue University announced Tuesday a student has tested positive for COVID-19.

According to a statement, the Tippecanoe County Health Department informed the university of the positive case Monday. The student, who is based on the school’s West Lafayette campus, is currently in Marion County. 

Students began remote learning this week, which will extend through the end of this academic year. 

A fourth Tippecanoe County resident was diagnosed with a positive case of COVID-19, the county announced Tuesday.

Communicating Health Risks To The Amish

There’s a sizable community of Amish people in Elkhart County. The health department does have ways to communicate with them even during normal times.

“We’ve always had great communication with the Amish Bishops,” says Melanie Sizemore, public information officer for the Elkhart County Health Department. 

She says they’re also working with methods they’ve never used before – like advertising in their newspapers.

With the Amish, like with any population, getting the information out is just part of the task of health departments.

Cities Work To Help Homeless Against COVID-19

In South Bend, St. Margaret’s House provides meals to women and children struggling with poverty. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, people would gather inside to eat. Now, food is served take-out style to avoid spreading the virus.

Executive director Kathy Schneider recognizes the challenges everyone faces, but she says people struggling with poverty and homelessness face those challenges tenfold. 

“When [officials] say to quarantine, to shelter-in-place, they have no place to shelter and that’s the problem,” Schneider says.

In Indianapolis, while shelters and service providers have stayed open, they now have to limit the number of people. 

The City of Indianapolis will also set up 15 hand washing stations downtown for people who do not have regular access to facilities.

Outreach street teams will continue efforts to reach unsheltered people and provide blankets, hygiene kits and health screenings.

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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