May 27, 2020
Governor Holcomb provided examples of communities coming together across the state of Indiana. Provided a video highlighting the sacrifices of Hoosier healthcare workers. Convinced Indiana is on the right track to open safely.
Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 370 new confirmed cases, bringing the total number of Hoosiers to 32,437 known to have COVID-19. Reported 21 new deaths for a total of 1,871 deaths and another 159 deaths are believed to have died based on clinical diagnostics. Should not get a false sense of security because numbers seem low (holiday weekend so reporting is lagging). ICU and ventilator availability remain steady. 235,000 Hoosiers tested to date with 23,000 individuals coming through 214 statewide sites. Reported that about 5% of the 23,000 Hoosiers tested positive at the state sites. Starting second phase of testing for IUPUI School of Public health next week. Urged Hoosiers to continue to practice social distancing as the threat is still very real–it may mean wearing a mask at the pool when not in the water. Randomly selected participants for the second phase of the study will begin seeing outreach from those conducting the study. Urged Hoosiers to participate in the study. We know minority populations have been hit hard by COVID and this study will go a long way to understanding those impacts.
Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Dr. Sullivan reminded Hoosiers that physical and mental health are intertwined and both must be maintained. Seeing a remarkable increase in telehealth to provide support for individuals compared to this time last year. Mental health providers have found a place for telehealth in their practice. The data shows this is a needed service and is increasing access to care for Hoosiers. April 2020 saw the largest Naloxone use in Indiana ever. Almost 1.5% of all EMS runs to date in the state involved the deployment of Naloxone. Providing $1M to help distribute Naloxone packages. Data from Domestic Violence Hotline is daunting. Bewellindiana.org is designed to address the increase in anxiety and mental health issues for Hoosiers. The website has been visited more than 54,000 times in just a month since the launch. As we move into recovery, urged parents, teachers and caregivers to be sensitive to the effects of the pandemic on kids, and whether misbehavior may reflect inability to deal with the stress. Encouraged Hoosiers to take the ACEs test in order to help you understand if traumatic experiences are impacting your life.
Associate Professor at the Indiana University School of Nursing Ukamaka Oruche provided advice and guidance for adults watching over kids right now. The pandemic is a traumatic event because it has threatened our entire communities. Children will express this trauma in different ways and adults need to understand that an act of aggression or other misbehavior may be a result of traumatic experiences. Encouraged adults to check in with their kids and students and let them know they have someone to help them.
Senior Education Advisor to Governor Holcomb Dr.Jenner reported they are hard at work with DOE, ISDH, FSSA and eduaction stakeholders to issue timely guidance to schools. Goal is to maximize student learning while maintaining safety for everyone. Will issue guidance as soon as possible.
Office of Management and Budget Director Johnston reported approximately $5B awarded to Indiana with a lot of it being passed through to different entities. The Corona Virus Relief Fund is about $2.4B and Governor previously announced $300M allocated to local governments to use for their fight against the pandemic. There are tight restrictions on how the money is spent. Indiana has applied for a grant from federal government of $61M to help with connectivity issues and teacher training to ensure remote learning is effective.
General Counsel Heerens reported data from May 19: number of complaints investigated 1,660, number of unfounded complaints 1426, number of verbal warnings issued 146 and 1 cease and desist letter. Will have updated numbers on Friday.
May 22, 2020
Governor Holcomb acknowledged the importance of Memorial Day weekend and asked Hoosiers to watch NBC from 2:00 to 6:00 pm where we will honor soldiers that didn’t come home as well as our frontline heroes during the pandemic. Asked Hoosiers to go outside and take in fresh air responsibly. and safely. Put on a mask if you are around other people. Clarified that the 15% budget cut memo applies only to state agencies (not K-12).
Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 493 additional cases of COVID-19 bringing total to 30,409 Hoosier known to have COVID-19. Reported additional 27 deaths and 1,791 have died to date. Another 150 Hoosiers believed to have died based on clinical diagnosis. Total number of Hoosier tested to date is 208,561. There are 209 testing sites around the state. Ventilators and ICU availability remains steady. As most of the state enters Phase III, will continue to follow the 4 guiding principles of data sets and reported all categories are trending in the right direction. Hoosiers should still limit trips and reminded everyone this is not a normal year–need to remain vigilant to protect our most vulnerable Hoosiers.
Indiana Department of Homeland Security Director Cox urged Hoosiers not to become complacent. The increase flexibility brings new challenges to not spreading the disease. Please follow the CDC guidelines and those 65 years or older with underlying health conditions should remain home. Please use a mask in public and keep social distancing to 6 feet. Self-isolate for at least 10 days if you you come into contact with a confirmed case. Code enforcement division of the department has received around 65 complaints for occupancy levels and only 4 entities needed additional education. No enforcement or fines have been levied and the state fire marshall continues to work with businesses to address occupancy limits and steps forward. Many businesses can expand occupancy levels starting today and our code enforcement officers can help guide businesses through the process. These restrictions are centered around the safety of all Hoosiers.
Indiana Economic Development Corporation Chief of Staff Bosso reported they have secured 14 million pieces of PPE from private sectors and have commitments for another 4M pieces of PPE. Shipped 20,000 bundles to Hoosier businesses. Will send another 90,000 bundles by June 24.
Indiana Department of Workforce Development Director Payne said the week ending May 16 saw 30,311 initial unemployment claims filed and continues downward trend from back in March. Released 1.3M payments since March totaling $1.7B ($500m in state and $1.2B in federal funds). Indiana unemployment rate is 16.9% while the national average is 14.7%. This is the highest rate since 1982. Leisure and manufacturing suffered the worst decline with 194K jobs lost. Continues to work on the call center. Average wait time for call center has been reduced by over 65% since last month as the result of staff changes and technology upgrades. Two additional reasons when claims go beyond 21 days: (1) clerical errors and (2) appeals (not all are approved).
Office of Management and Budget Director Johnston reported that the budget cut memo is the first step of a series of actions to protect the state. Cost saving measures will likely continue through next biennial budget. They will be looking at higher-ed and K-12 as it accounts for over 50% of state budget. This is an evolving roadmap and will be a combination of spending cuts, using reserves and federal assistance to get us through the pandemic and to the next budget making process that starts in January with the General Assembly. All state agencies have to submit a strategic plan that demonstrates budget cuts and prioritizes the essential services Hoosiers depend on.
Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens reported the executive order issued yesterday does not change anything for religious services. There is no limit to attend religious service but there is guidance they must follow like social distancing. There is more information on the back on track website for religious services. Still encouraging virtual services to protect Hoosiers. South Bend Casino owned by the Pokagon tribe tweeted they are looking at a reopening and are technically not required to follow state executive order.
May 20, 2020
Governor Holcomb Announced Indiana will advance to Stage 3 on Friday. He will sign the executive order tomorrow (will be public tomorrow). Lake, Marion and Cass counties will be able to move to Stage 3 on June 1. Highlighted updates for Stage 3: social gatherings of up to 100 people, restaurant dining rooms remain open at 50% capacity, retail stores/malls open to 75% capacity, gyms/YMCAs/fitness studios may open with restrictions, community pools and campgrounds may open, recreational sports/practices may begin following guidelines (contact sports are prohibited), basketball, tennis, soccer and baseball courts and fields may open, youth summer day camps may begin June 1, raceways can begin competition with no spectators, state park inns will reopen. Executive Order will extend the prohibition on turning off utilities, extends prohibition on filing mortgage foreclosures and evictions and extends deadlines to acquire or renew drivers licenses, vehicle registrations and similar BMV documentation. Urged Hoosiers 65 and over to remain cautious and everyone should wear masks to protect one another. Will continue to make data driven decisions and still believes June 14 (start of Stage 4) will occur. Looking to open Casinos in Stage 4 and working closely with the gaming industry. Urged Hoosiers not to let down their guard and underscored that individual decisions will ultimately determine when the state can safely reopen.
Indiana State Department of Health Dr. Box reported 581 new cases for a statewide total of 29,274 and 38 deaths for a statewide total of 1,716 deaths. Reported 6,442 new tests for a statewide total of 195,738 total tests. Urged employees that need to return to work to get tested at one of the 181 testing sites around the state. Provided an update on the centralized contact tracing program with nearly 2,800 cases in the system and nearly 6,000 outbound calls. Urged Hoosiers to participate in the program to keep everyone safe and keep the state moving forward. Hoosiers need to wear masks, wash hands, practice social distancing in order to move to stage 4. Urged gatherings of up to 100 to be held outside. Will likely open bingo halls at the same time of other gaming establishments. Goal is to test every long-term care employee by mid-June.
Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner McGuiness gave a shoutout to INDOT employees and other state employees working to collect and distribute medical supplies and PPE. Reported that INDOT continues to take advantage of lower traffic on the roads by finishing projects ahead of schedule and, therefore, at reduced costs. During the first few weeks of the stay at home order, saw about a 57% reduction of traffic on the roads. The traffic volumes are slowly increasing especially on the weekends as the state continues getting back on track. INDOT maintains 29 rest areas and welcome centers and all of them are being cleaned hourly at common touch points. INDOT employees are inspecting daily as well to protect those traveling. Spoke with the Indiana Toll Road Concession Company and they are following the same safety protocol along the toll road. Provided food truck venders the ability to set up at these rest stops for truckers and had about 25-30 trucks at the peak and beginning to phase out the program as things open back up. INDOT has a little over 1,100 active, ongoing projects around the state.
Indiana State Police Superintendent Carter reported 25 fewer fatal crashes and 31 fewer deaths compared to this time last year. Urged Hoosiers to pay attention when driving through work zones and do it safely. Indiana becomes a hands-free state starting July 1 (no hands on a cell phone while driving).
Governor Holcomb Senior Education Advisor Jenner continues to work with DOE and ISDH to review the most updated data and research in the development of comprehensive guidelines for our school leaders. Schools and facilities are closed through June 30. Constant communications with ISHAA. Thanked all the school stakeholders for their input and participation in developing a plan.
May 18, 2020
Governor Holcomb said IOSHA is conducting business as they should and will continue to have full faith in their job. Will put out guidance for K-12 and institutions of higher education in the near future. State of Indiana has set aside $100M to build connections around the state to ensure Hoosiers have broadband access. Said he had no involvement in selection of testing partner (reporter asked about a campaign contribution from Optum). More information regarding Phase 3 of the re-opening plan coming Wednesday.
Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 492 new positive cases with 28,522 total cases around the state. Reported 14 new deaths bringing statewide death total to 1,621. To date, 184,000 Hoosiers have been tested for COVID-19. ICU beds and ventilator availability remain steady. Today is the first day that ISDH is taking on all 92 counties’ contact tracing matters. Urged Hoosiers to communicate with State Department of Health when called. Reported first confirmed case of Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MISC). MISC defined as a (1) person less than 21 years old with fever, laboratory evidence of inflammation and evidence of clinically severe illness requiring hospitalization with multisystems (at least 2) such as cardiac, renal respiratory and no alternative plausible diagnoses and positive for current or recent COVID-19 infection or COVID-19 exposure within the four weeks prior to onset of symptoms . Doctors should report suspected cases to local and state department of health even if patient meets the criteria for Kawasaki disease. Urged Hoosiers to wear a mask to protect yourself and other around you. Seen significant spread from asymptomatic people in Indiana and around the world. My mask protects you and your masks protects me. This personal responsibility is going to directly impact what happens as we ease restrictions. Intimately engaged in testing in SW Indiana as cases tripled in a week in Dubois County after 42 workers at a turkey processing plant test positive. State is monitoring surrounding counties as well. Not mandating masks as a state but expects many businesses to mandate (like no shirt, no shoes no services).
Department of Child Services Director Stigdon understands the pandemic has put even more stress on our struggling families. Continue to investigate allegations of neglect and abuse reported to our hotline. A family case manager visits the child in person when an initial claim is made to make sure they are safe. Front-line workers provided with PPE, family visits are conducted virtually and offices are open by appointment to reduce foot traffic. Helping Hoosiers navigate public assistance programs as well as connecting people with mental health and substance abuse resources. The pandemic forced schools and other community centers to close and need everyone’s help to care for those in our communities that need help.
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Lacey opened 73 branches last week and adding 2000 appointments a week. Reported 141,845 appointments on the books last week which is almost 100% capacity. Adding 2,000 appointments a day by increasing capacity. The appointment system is open through June 13. Reminded Hoosiers to go online to conduct business and that you can go to any branch in the state (not limited to the county you are living in).
May 15, 2020
Governor Holcomb thanked all Hoosiers for their ongoing sacrifices. Congratulated students graduating this year. Urged Hoosiers to go to http://www.my2020census.gov to ensure Indiana is properly represented and http://www.coronosvirus.in.gov to find strong WiFi hotspots around the state. Reminded Hoosiers that the $100M commitment to improve internet service for all Hoosiers continues on. If COVID-19 numbers change then the state will changes its course. Mayor of Indianapolis has set out a sound re-opening plan and it is up to the courts to decide if anything is unconstitutional in it.
Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 614 new cases of COVID-19 for a statewide total of 26,655 and 42 new deaths for a statewide total of 1,550 deaths and another 141 probable deaths. ICU beds and ventilator supply remain steady. about 4% of cases have been hospitalized. Tested more than 100,000 Hoosiers since April 15. 170 testing locations in all–some public and some private. Provided an update on the contact tracing that started in 21 counties this week that represents more than 50% of cases of the state. Other counties will go live on Monday. Shared success stories of contact tracing of people who had no idea they had been exposed to the disease. Hoosiers are eager to help stop the spread of the disease. Goal is to contact people within 24 hours of test results. Formed a panel to look at racial disparities in coronavirus impact and said 43% of state-run drive thru tests have been minority patients. Excited to see antibody study come out next month.
Indiana Economic Development Corporation Chief of Staff Bosso gave an update on the Small Business PPE program and reported receiving 20,000 orders and shipped 10,000 to date. Anticipating 12,000 going out next week. Reminded Hoosiers this program is intended to be a last resort and urged companies to look elsewhere first. IEDC has secured 16M pieces of PPE, up from 9M reported last week. Business community is stepping up to manufacture and procure PPE and many are choosing to donate.
Indiana Secretary of State Lawson noted the state is 18 days away from June 2 primary election. Will supply all 92 counties with PPE so that poll workers and election staff are properly outfitted. They have sourced as much as possible from Indiana companies. Indiana National Guard handling distribution. PPE does not cover the general public so voter needs to follow CDC guidelines to keep our communities safe. Encouraged all voters to vote absentee for the primary election which is the safest way to do it. As of this morning, over 330,000 have cast an absentee ballot by mail. Marion county has seen 56,000 absentee ballots already, which is more than the statewide total in 2016. Might take 2 or 3 days to get the results after election day. This is not a new process but just an expansion of an existing program. Poll workers who get paid will not have their unemployment taken away. Indiana General Assembly must change state law to allow for no excuse absentee ballot voting in the future. Chose to have in person voting because it can be done safely and is a right.
Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne reported 30,691 unemployment claims for the week ending May 9, which continues a weekly downward trend dating back to March. High call volumes continue to be challenging. Average wait time has been reduced by 50% and the claims volume remains extremely high. The top reason claims go beyond 21 days is because of issues–which require the claim to be reviewed. The three issues are (1) deductible income issues, (2) employment status (full or part time) and (3) voluntary quit concerns. Each one of these issues requires a dedicated person to investigate and it cannot be automated. We are trending in the right direction but understands more work needs to be done.
May 13, 2020
Governor Holcomb stressed that the phase in plan is a fluid roadmap and he is willing to call audible as needed. Said gas stations can use self-serve fountain drinks and coffee stations and the State is working to develop sanitary guidelines. This is a new reality we are facing, not a new normal. Will continue to make decisions based on the data. Everyone should assume they are infected and a threat to others. 45% of positive people said they had no symptoms when they were tested and that shows why you need to assume you can be a threat to someone.Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 409 additional cases bringing total to 25,473. Reported 38 additional deaths bringing total to 1,482. Available ICU beds and ventilators remain steady. Shipping out PPE to hospitals and local health departments this week. Indiana has received two shipments of remdesivir. The first shipment went directly to hospital in a northern Indiana hotspot. The second one went to ISDH and they are distributing to hospitals most in need. Will receive weekly shipments as needed in near future. Shown to decrease hospital stays among those infected. Social distancing is still crucial to safe re-opening. Two dozen new testing sites went live today. More than 170 testing sites available around the state. No cost for these tests. Very important people wear masks and social distance. IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health Officials reported the results of the statewide COVID-19 study announced a few weeks ago. Thanked Dr. Box and Dr. Weaver’s entire team for all the help on executing this study. Need to continue to expand testing throughout the state. Ideally, test every Hoosier but next best is a random sampling coupled with a scientific approach. Stressed the results are preliminary. A total of 4,611 Hoosiers tested April 25-May 1 and during this time 1.7% participants tested positive, 1.1% tested positive for antibodies. Data suggests 186,000 Hoosiers were infected by late April (about 2.8% of population). Indiana was only aware of 17,000 cases April 29 showing the impact was 11x times greater than previously known. .58% of infected people in Indiana have died. 44.8% of people who tested positive showed no symptoms. Data shows you are 12 times more likely to be positive if living with someone with a confirmed case, showing social distancing is crucial to slowing the spread of the virus. Bought time to determine best way forward. Vast majority of people in Indiana have not been infected so need to be extra vigilant not to lose any ground gained. Data shows racial disparity. Phase II of the study starts June 3-7, Phase 3: October 2020 and Phase 4: April 2021. Stressed Hoosiers to continue to participant in the testing. Threat not likely to go away until a vaccine is invented and widely available. Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne working on a case by case basis for those claimants who feel they cannot safely go back to work when their company reopens.
May 11, 2020
Governor Holcomb announced the daily briefings will move to Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2:30 moving forward. However, will call an audible if information needs to get out immediately. Task force will be continuing meeting on a daily basis and the data will continue to be updated daily on coronavirus.in.gov. Administration will continue to be 100% accessible to get everyone back to work safely. His position has not changed from 2018 and believes Attorney General Hill should resign after his unethical actions have been confirmed for the 4th time–this time by the Indiana Supreme Court.
Indiana Department of Heath Commissioner Dr. Box reported 511 new cases in Indiana for a total of 24,627 Hoosiers confirmed to have COVID-19 –equates to about a 17% positivity rate out of the 146,688 total tests to date. Reported 32 new deaths bringing the total number of deaths in Indiana to 1,411. Reported 6,667 tests completed yesterday and ICU beds and ventilator availability remain steady. Contact tracing is crucial to any disease investigation and have been doing it for over 100 years in Indiana for various diseases. The only real difference is a larger scale and a brand-new disease. ISDH is ethically mandated to protect Hoosiers from this disease. It is how we protect your loved ones, your neighbors and your community members. Will not provide name of positive patient and all information is held securely. Normally, this is done at the local level, but the disease requires a centralized approached for the first time. Maximus has hired 325 contact tracers and employees are Indiana residents or students. Phase 1 started today in 21 counties with 285 cases already loaded into the system. Phase 2 begins May 18 for the remaining counties. Urged Hoosiers to get tested at NO COST. Reminded Hoosiers not to ignore routine health checkups or other health needs. Significant decline in Indiana and around nation for children under 24 months for health checkup appointments/immunizations. The more testing increasing, the more positive cases we are going to find around the state. That’s why we are using several metrics to safely re-open the economy. We still do not have a vaccine or medicine that is accessible and proven to treat the disease. Department does not have the power to force someone to confidentially disclose who they have been in contact with and fortunately have not run into that because most Hoosiers want to protect those around them. Expect to release the initial results of the Fairbanks study on Wednesday.
Indiana Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatric President Dr. GiaQuinta said pediatricians have taken every precaution to ensure a safe environment. State has a high rate of herd immunity, which is a good thing as it protects against the spread of preventable diseases. When we decrease immunization rates, it increases the chances of an outbreak and highlights the need to get into your pediatrician for child checkups and immunization. Urged parents to maintain regular visits with their doctors.
Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens in terms of number of complaints going back 5 weeks (start of stay at home order), 1458 complaints, 1266 unfounded, 138 verbal warnings and 1 cease and desist letter. Benton County business was given a verbal warning, it was not heeded, we had conversations and unfortunately continued to be noncompliant and issued the very first cease and desist order. Ultimately, the business came into compliance over the weekend.
May 8, 2020
Governor Holcomb urged Hoosiers at high risk of COVID-19 to get tested even if they do not have symptoms. If you have underlying health conditions, best not to re-engage in a public fashion as this time. If locals want to keep their communities closed longer than the state, will support the locals 9 out of 10 times within reason. More than willing to change the timeline of re-opening things if the data calls for it. Timeline of opening schools was a topic this morning in discussions with Governor DeWine (Ohio) and Governor Beshear (Kentucky).
Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 675 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total statewide number to 23,146 confirmed cases. Reported 33 new deaths for a total of 1,328 deaths. Phase 1 of Fairbanks Testing has been completed (around 4600 participants). Will share more data early next week. Urged “high risk” individuals to get tested even if they do not have symptoms. Will review data this weekend to see if Lake County is ready to move to Stage 2.
Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston reported back in March the state missed revenue by 6% and brought year to date forecasts flat. April revenue missed all major categories. April is the highest revenue generating month for the state. April shortfall of almost $1B. Cautiously optimistic that around $800M of the shortfall is due to delaying income taxes to July. However, not certain how many will be paying. State is now behind 7% for the fiscal year. Sales tax collection is off by 15% and the worst hit will likely come in May. Casino revenue is off by 100% as they were closed and will also miss 100% of collections in May as they will remain closed. The remainder of the fiscal year will be challenging. Talks of a fourth round of federal funding for state and local government assistance. Full recovery will take several years.
Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne released 57,000 payments statewide for the totaling $119M, which takes states total unemployment payments to over $1B. Made it clear that each case of unemployment is a case by case analysis. In process now of communicating with other states and Department of Labor on how best to handle those cases who are at high risk and asked to return to work.
Governor Holcomb Senior Education Advisor Jenner eager to have students back in the classroom but want to make sure it is safe for the students, educators and parents. Working closely with DOE, SBOE, CHE and many educational leaders who have shared their thoughts with us.
Indiana National Guard Brigadier General Dale Lyles reported working with Secretary of State to determine how much PPE needs to be distributed to polling sites around the state for the upcoming primary. Goal is to deliver in next five to 10 days and have a robust plan to ensure voters maintain proper social distancing.
May 7, 2020
Governor Holcomb said as long as Hoosiers are practicing social distancing and good hygiene and our most at risk stay home we are on the right path and will go from Stage 2 to Stage 3 on schedule. Up to each individual Hoosier. Will leave it up to each business to decide how to handle telling their employees about positive cases within the business.
Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 650 additional cases of COVID-19 bringing total to 22,503 in Indiana. Additional 35 deaths and 1,295 Hoosiers have died to date and another 119 are believed to have died from this disease but did not have a positive test on record. 42% of ICU beds are available and 80.3% of ventilators are available, those percentages are remaining steady. 125,000 Hoosiers have been tested to date and continue to encourage people to visit the 20 statewide sites or the 5 drive through test sites. Contact tracing will start on Monday. We have to remain vigilant to get through this and remember how COVID-19 spreads (coughing or droplets from the mouth)–social distance and stay home if you are sick. If you wear a mask, you are protecting others from your respiratory droplets. Important to keep your mask on when inside to protect others. Gloves give people a false sense of security and can put people in a position to spread their germs rapidly if not used properly. Realistically, it’s better to just wash your hands frequently. Carry alcohol swabs to clean your phone as it is very dirty and by your face and mouth frequently. Space out if you are going to Church and still prefer virtual services right now. Do not hug your mom and grandma on Mothers Day. Percentage of the positive number of cases is the number to watch as huge testing results come online this week and next week.
Lieutenant Governor Crouch provided an update on agricultural activities. Contributes $38B to Indiana’s economy and in the planting season. 33% of corn and 22% of soybeans in the ground to date which is above the 5 year average. Office of Community and Rural Affairs created the COVID-19 response program to help small and rural communities. Granted $10.7 million to 62 communities to date to assist in four areas: (1) increase access to medical facilities; (2) provide testing resources; (3) increase food pantry services; and (4) provide grants or loans to small businesses for job retention. Reminded Hoosiers about the Hardest Hit Fund for mortgage assistance through the Indian Housing and Community Development Authority. Announced the formation of the Indiana Destination Recovery Council to collaborate on how to get Indiana tourism back on track. Will continue to meet through June.
Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne reported 43,277 initial claims filed for week ending May 2. This continues to show a downward trend since the peak back in March. So far in May, DWD has made 313,000 payments totaling $237M. Has paid out close to $1B since March. High call volume still coming in. 160 new staff joined and upgraded technology is lowering wait times and increasing call back efficiency. Took UpLink system offline last night to go into final phase of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which is final payment of the benefit. Hoosiers will start seeing payment disbursements being made tomorrow. Not all will be made tomorrow as they are made in batches. Over 75,000 applications filed for PUA program. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is another federal program which provides 13 weeks of extension payments when other benefits have exhausted. The extensions will take place tomorrow as well. Successfully implemented all the federal programs. Getting a lot of questions on returning to work from employers and employees. Will hold webinars over the next few weeks, Facebook Live event on May 13 for employers and claimants. Unemployment Trust Fund is just south of $600M and will seek federal assistance if needed.
Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens explained Indiana businesses have a general duties clause and Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration has the ability to look into workplace complaints. Stage 2 allows restaurants that have a bar area to open, but the bar area must remain closed. Bars and taverns need to remain closed (think a legitimate dining room/services (not hot pockets)). FAQs from ATC to help clear up these questions.
May 6, 2020
Governor Holcomb recognized that it is National Nurses Day today and thanked all nurses for their sacrifices. Believe that properly socially distanced religious services can be done safely but still prefers that people meet virtually for now. Stressed that he supports local decisions on how best to handle this pandemic in their communities, including Indianapolis Mayor Hogsett’s decision to limit religious services, and stressed that partnerships are going to get us through this storm at the federal and local level.
Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 862 additional cases which brings the total count to 21,870. Includes cases from the VA and the DOC. 51 additional confirmed deaths with 1,264 total confirmed deaths to date. Another 113 are believed to have died from COVID-19 but no test. We expect to see more Hoosiers impacted by COVID-19 because our overall high rate of underlying health issues as a state. Taking a measured phase-in approach which is why Marion, Cass and Lake Counties are still in stage 1. There are 40.9% ICU beds available and 79.4% ventilators are available. Today marks the start of 20 new testing sites statewide. If you have symptoms or are high risk (underlying health condition or minority population), please get tested. You do not have to be symptomatic. As we test more, there will be more positives and that’s why the contact tracing is so important. Training started today for contact tracing.
Family and Social Services Secretary Dr. Sullivan notedindividuals experiencing homelessness are a vulnerable population around the state. Provided an update on the Safe Recovery Sites around the state for our homeless neighbors. Matched programming with areas of greatest need based on data. First day of operations was March 29. The program has served 252 clients, 167 successful discharges, 116 clients connected with primary care, 27 treated for mental health conditions and 5 clients to long-term supported housing.
South Bend Regional Chamber Jeff Rea said the reaction from local businesses in this area has been positive and one of excitement. A measured approach with a path to reopen is the clarity they needed to plan appropriately. His members have two priorities: keep customers safe and keep employees safe.
One Southern Indiana President Wendy Dant said their goal is to get businesses the most accurate and timely information we can give them so they can make informed decisions for their own business activities. Conducted daily Zoom and Facebook Live events with experts in various fields from HR, legal and the banking world. Raised around $420,000 for emergency loans for local businesses and then another donor stepped up that raised another $500,000. These two rounds helped over 70 businesses.
Indiana Department of Corrections Dr. Dauss recognized a hot zone in Plainfield area because of three facilities in the area. In an effort to expand our testing efforts, we are testing every offender in the intake facility. Expect the number of confirmed cases to increase. National Correctional Officer’s week is this week.
May 5, 2020
Governor Holcomb commended the restaurant industry for coming together to provide meals for families all across the state and their diligent approach to creating a safe reopening plan for their industry. Stressed that the road map is just a road map and our course of action is ultimately up to each Hoosier. Vice President Pence called him last night and told him Indiana’s plan to re-open is the best he has seen to date. Thanked a reporter for asking about the federal money going to local units. Youth sports reopening is expected to be June 14 but reiterated the data will drive the decision. Leagues themselves could decide to go later. Doesn’t foresee the daily press conference going until the end of the year but do not have plans to stop right now. Want to ensure a transparent process for those paying attention.
Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Weaver reported541 additional cases bringing us to a total of 21,333 known cases. 1,213 Hoosiers have died to date. 113 are believed to have died from COVID-19 based on diagnostics but no positive test. ICU beds remain stable with 44% available and just over 80% of ventilators available. Launching 20 testing sites statewide. Will be open Monday through Friday each week moving forward. Finalizing the remaining 30 sites in the next few days. Things will look different for a while but it is on Hoosiers to keep us on the right track.
Indiana Economic Development Corporation Chief of Staff Luke Bosso announced that the Small Business Marketplace launches tomorrow. Designed to connect small businesses and nonprofits with PPE so they can safely open. 4 qualifications to participate in marketplace: (1) be business or nonprofit registered in Indiana; (2) have under 150 associates (3) be an organization that must use PPE to reopen and comply with safe workplace requirements ; and (4) employ workers in restaurant, retail, sales, personal services industries and office environments. Will only be able fill about 10,000 requests in the first week. Supply will be replenished. Intended to be a secondary market for those who cannot find it else where. For businesses not able to be serviced, will work with them on the next round of funding. Market place bundles will consist of masks, hand sanitizer and face shields. Procured more than 9 million pieces of PPE to date.
Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association President Patrick Tamm asks guests not to dine in at this time if they do not feel well, have underlying health conditions or came in close contact with a confirmed case. Restaurants reopening at 50% capacity starting Monday, May 11. Bar seating will be closed with no live entertainment, servers and kitchen staff must wear face coverings. Lake, Cass and Marion counties open one week after beginning stage 2. What to expect? One use menus texted to you, one-use condiments and wait in your vehicles for your reservation time.
Director of Office of Management and Budget money to support localities is coming from the federal government and the $300M is just a first step. Going to ask that locals use the money in accordance with federal guidelines, which changes quickly so still finalizing. Public health and medical expenses, sanitization and other public safety expenses are all reimbursable. Why $300M? Good allocation to see what the demand is around the state.
May 4, 2020
Governor Holcomb Recognized Teacher Appreciation Week and the fact that teachers and administrators have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Praised the Indiana Retired Teachers Association for setting up a hotline (87-45-STUDY) for students and parents to call in for homework help from retired teachers. Teachers are from all around the country. Reiterated that his office solicited input from specific industries in rolling out executive order on Friday. Apologized for not wearing a mask this weekend when taking a picture with local residents. Will continue to follow the roadmap closely and let the four pillars guide our decision making. 6.7 million Hoosiers are going to decide where we are in July. Believes that a safe working environment could be the next economic driver. Mentioned his office is working with Indiana legislators and Congressmen/Senators on liability issues for employers as they reopen. Still working with the gaming industry to make sure we get it right, will be down the road. Looking for guidance from CDC to make an informed decision. Clarified that “recommended” and “optional” could be read to be the same thing in all stages of the plan.
Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Weaver reported 583 new positive cases and 19 new deaths. There are now 20,507 total cases and 1,151 deaths in Indiana. There are 45% of ICU beds available and nearly 81% of ventilators available. Indiana has tested around 113k Hoosiers, more than double of tests reported one month ago. Expanding testing is a major focus. Announced new map showing total testing sites around Indiana (coronavirus.in.gov). It is a living document. Registration for 20 sites opening on Wednesday opens today (www.lhi.care/covidtesting). Finalizing details for other 30 testing sites next week and will provide update in near future.
Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Lacy announced the BMV is entering phase 2. As of today, 55 locations across the state open. They aim to have a branch open within an hour of every Hoosier. Announced extended hours: Open 9 to 5 Monday through Saturday. Over 20,000 appointments made as of Friday. Employing CDC guidelines (lobby chairs 6 feet apart, plexiglass, thirty-minute gap between customers to disinfect hard surfaces, appointment only). Goal is to have all branches open by Memorial Day to be ready for primary election day on June 2.
Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens commented that the executive order is intended to be as plain language as possible. It is very difficult to answer every question in a complex situation. Our office is available to answer them as they come forward and as needed. Marion, Lake and Cass Counties are still in stage 1. All other counties are in Stage 2 so can have social gatherings of up to 25 people. Will partner with locals to help work through issues. All businesses MUST adopt a plan before May 11 to ensure a safe environment for employees and customers like: enhanced cleaning, providing hand sanitizer, wearing face covering and using barriers where possible. Plan must be available to employees and the public. This is supposed to provide confidence to employees and customers that the business has a plan to open safely. Commented on religious services starting up on Friday: (1) still encourage virtual services especially for those at risk; (2)must employ social distancing; and (3) counting on religious leaders to protect their congregation. The gatherings before and after a service would still have to abide by 25 person limit (difference between religious service and gathering). Enforcement team will be looking into complaints on individual companies, verbal warning first
May 1, 2020
*More than 50,000 views watched the live feed today. This is about a 10X increase the normal views each day.
**The text of the Executive Order has not been reviewed. This is only a summary of the press conference.
Governor Holcomb – It was about 8 weeks ago when I first spoke to you about the pandemic. Today, thanks to the actions and discipline of 6.7 million Hoosiers we are ready to move ahead in a measured way. Gave thanks to the heroes on the front lines saving lives despite great personal risk. Remembered the more than 1,000 Hoosiers lost to the pandemic and stressed these loses go far beyond data points. Announced the “Back on Track Indiana” plan, which is a sector by sector roll out to reopen Indiana’s economy. Will continue to watch the data and allow it to guide Indiana to open slowly. Number of COVID-19 cases will increase during re-opening. Goal is to get Indiana back on track by July 4. Starting May 8, Indiana worship services may convene following specific guidelines (25-person limit doesn’t apply). Reported that Dr. Box lost her father this morning.
Four Guiding Principles:
- Monitor the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. (Number of hospitalized COVID-19 patience statewide has decreased the past 14 days)
- Retain surge capacity for ICU beds, ventilators and other critical healthcare infrastructure
- State created small business marketplace to comply with new PPE requirements (details forthcoming)
- Distributing $300M of federal money to Counties, Cities and Towns via population formula that can be used for expenditures caused by the pandemic at outlined in US Treasury guidance.
- Have ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic
- Have the ability to contact trace all cases (centralized tracking systems starts May 11)
Roadmap for a 5 Stage Roll Out:
Stage 1: (last 6 weeks) Essential workers, services and businesses
Stage 2: Will start on May 4 and roll out over the next three weeks (Marion and Lake may begin on May 11. Cass County may start on May 18). Hoosiers 65 and over and those with underlying health conditions should remain at home as much as possible. Social gathering of up to 25 people with social distancing. Lifting the essential travel restrictions. State office open with limited public interaction. All manufacturing open. Shopping malls (25% capacity for common areas) retail stores and liquor stores may operate at 50% capacity. On May 11 restaurants may operate at 50% capacity but no bar services, personal services, spas, haircutters by appointment only. Office workers encouraged to work from home as much as possible.
Stage 3: Target date is May 24. At-risk people can venture cautiously, social gatherings up to 100 people, movie theaters open at 50% capacity, increase capacity of retail stores and malls to 75% capacity, mall common areas can open at 50%, tennis courts, fitness centers, playground may open with restrictions to follow.
Stage 4: Target date is June 14. Face coverings optional. Zoos, museums, bowling alleys open at 50% capacity, social gatherings up to 250 people, music venues, state government buildings open to public, retail stores and malls open at full capacity. Dining services to 75% capacity, bar services at 50% capacity, entertainment and tourism open at 50%, recreational sports and tournaments may resume
Stage 5: Target date is July 4. Will continue to practice social distancing. Retail, malls restaurants, night clubs, gyms, and personal services may operate at full capacity. Will decide how to approach next school year at this point.
Indiana Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Weaver – There are about 84 sites across the states testing for COVID. Located on the website. Adding additional 50 sites. 20 open next Wednesday and the rest after about a week. Online portal will open on Monday to get tested.
Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens said local communities can be stricter than the update executive order. Governor Holcomb noted, in all likelihood, state will support communities who want stricter guidelines.
Family and Social Services Secretary Sullivan reported that child care has remained open throughout the pandemic. Supporting facilities that shut down to re-open in a safe manner.
Indiana Air National Guard Adjutant General Lyles closely monitoring all capacity issues in the entire NW Indiana area and will deliver capacity when needed.
April 30, 2020
- Governor Holcomb highlighted the efforts of the General Motors plant in Kokomo producing ventilators and the number of Hoosiers they are looking to hire. Made it clear that locals can go above and beyond the upcoming change to stay at home order. The change will be very methodical, data driven and vary by industry.
- Lieutenant Governor Crouch filled in for Governor Holcomb who was in Kokomo with the Vice President. Announced 49 communities receiving more than $8.7M in grants from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs to help rural areas mitigate impact of pandemic. Highlighted the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority Hardest Hit Fund for mortgage assistance. 600 Hoosiers have applied to date. IHCDA allocated $400,000 from the emergency housing disaster relief fund to help community organizations around the state assisting those struggling with homelessness.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 669 new cases across Indiana bringing the total to 17,835 Hoosiers known to date with COVID-19. Reported 44 additional deaths bringing total deaths to 1,007. Reported the first death of a Hoosier younger than 19 today. 95,000 Hoosiers have been tested and expect the number to increase significantly next week due to OptumServe partnership. Initial OptumServe sites will go live on Wednesday. Working with local health partners to identify highest need areas for the 30 additional testing sites. 42.5% ICU beds available and 80.6% of ventilators are available. New centralized tracing network to begin May 11.
- Family and Social Services Administration Chief Medical Officer Dr. Rusyniak acknowledged unanticipated benefit of the pandemic is the outpouring of support for first responders and other health care workers. Wanted to take a moment to thank the long term care employees caring for the most vulnerable. These individuals show up to work everyday to deal with the pandemic and expose themselves and their family to it for others.
- Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne reported 57,397 claims filed last week. Fielded over 1 million phone interactions in the month of April. Provided an update on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (contractors/self-employed/gig workers). Applications opened on April 24 with about 60,000 applications filed to date. Unemployment system built around helping people get back to employment. Claimants must return to work if called back to remain eligible for benefits. Not returning could be considered a refusal to work and disqualify the person. If working reduced hours, should still file for weekly voucher so you may receive partial benefits. If a person feels unsafe because of the pandemic, claim will likely be denied. Working condition can be considered on a case by case basis on the appeal. Other popular questions can be found on DOD FAQ page that is updated frequently. Highlighted upcoming virtual job fairs.
- Indiana Air National Guard Adjutant General Lyles completed the A-10 flyover in Fort Wayne yesterday. Rescheduled Indianapolis fly over for Saturday, May 2 due to inclement weather.
- Governor Holcomb General Counsel Heerens reported 1,264 number of complaints of violations of the stay-at-home order have been investigated. 1,131 complaints determined to be unfounded or without merit, gave 133 verbal warnings and 0 cease and desist letters.
April 29, 2020
- Governor Holcomb will be in Kokomo at the GM plant (now producing ventilators) tomorrow with the Vice President but will still participate in press conference tomorrow. Very important day as contact tracing is being unrolled today. Believes the state will be coming out of the locker room into the third quarter on Friday (updated stay at home executive order). Believes Indy 500 can still happen in August and that a lot of what we do today will allow that to take place. Public school buildings and whether they can be used for purposes other than instruction after school year will be addressed on Friday in executive order. Said to be blunt, if you are 65 years old and have underlying health conditions you are going to be living in a new normal for a while.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 63 new deaths and 605 new cases. Announced the state has acquired an N-95 mask cleaning process that will allow health care providers to reuse. Focus on making sure each of populations that have difficulty getting tested are able to do that. Announced a Centralized Contact Tracing operation for COVID-19 cases in Indiana. Developed a process to determine the people who have been in contact with an infected person, and his or her level of exposure, and what steps should be taken to mitigate the spread. Individuals in close contact must isolate for 7-10 days and will determine contacts of this person as well. Each case will likely have an additional 10 cases that need to be contacted to self-isolate. Working with 16 other local health departments in order to conduct tracing. Will use technology to reach out to COVID-19 positive cases through text message and email to have the individual call in. Central database will send info to local departments and will free up local health departments to focus on local contact tracing across the state. Cost will run $43M a year. Goes live May 11. State went to 7 different companies for proposals and felt Maximus gave best value to conduct the tracing. Citizens are obligated to respond to questions from a public health perspective. Gyms are going to have to take specific steps to keep their facilities safe.
- St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Fox has a team of 6 public health nurses that focus on health investigation. tremendous experience with contact tracing for other conditions. Over 600 confirmed cases in St. Joseph County to date and has redirected resources as a response. Believes that the stay at home order will make contact tracing a little easier because the hope is people haven’t been going anywhere necessarily. Contact tracing critical to reopening in a safe manner.
- Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne responded to a question regarding employees who feel like it is not safe to return to work. Said that current law basically says if an employer requests an employee back to work and the employee doesn’t show up, they will not be able to access unemployment benefits. Will have webinars in the near future for employers and employees.
April 28, 2020
- Governor Holcomb reported Dr. Box is still dealing with a non-Covid-19 related family emergency. Encouraged everyone to participate in the scientific study. Thanked everyone who makes the testing possible in Indiana. Reiterated the stay at home order is the reason why we can make decisions about how to move forward on Friday. Malls will be included in the guidance on Friday. Convinced that any action that he has taken has been constitutional and out of the need to ensure public health (Illinois Governor being sued). We don’t know when it will taper off, but we know it will be awhile and we will need to be flexible and call audibles like we have been doing. College fall enrollment and what that looks like will be decided in mid-May just like K-12.
- State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Weaver reported 650 new confirmed cases and 57 new deaths from COVID-19. 19,588 Hoosiers have tested positive and a total of 901 have confirmed to have died from COVID-19. Holding steady with 44% of ICU beds available and 80% of ventilators available. Reminded Hoosiers to agree to participate in the scientific test. Announced testing expansion and will now allow Indiana to test every Hoosier who has symptoms. OptumServe will launch 20 sites around the state and increase to 50 sites in next 14 days. Capacity is 100,000 in the first 30 days and will start opening sites next week. OptumServe will collect the swab specimens and manage the testing and reporting data. Hoosiers can get tested without having to visit a healthcare provider if they meet certain criteria. 6,600 Hoosiers can be tested per day once all 50 sites are online. Selected testing locations based on where it is most needed. Anyone showing symptoms can be tested, anyone who has had close contacts with infected persons and any Hoosier living in a congregate setting can be tested. Register online via portal or via phone call and there is no charge or insurance needed. If positive, will receive a phone call and if negative will receive an email. Focus is on all symptomatic individuals. Results within 48 hours. Month to month contract at a total cost of $17.9M to the state that will likely be paid via federal funds. Indiana has averaged 22,000 tests a week and the goal is to more than double that, with OptumServe performing 30,000 a week.
- Governor Holcomb General Counsel said State is very careful in crafting every executive order to date based on data. Adjustments are important to make off of the data and that is exactly what we did on Monday (elective procedures) and will do so on Friday (guidance to certain industries on re-opening). This is a limited emergency situation.
April 27, 2020
- Governor Holcomb continued his praise for Hoosiers, front line health care workers and others for sticking together through the pandemic. Will be giving updates tomorrow on the testing front and Wednesday will have an update on the tracing program. Will likely make changes to the current stay at home order on Friday, data willing. Will layout the state’s thinking on Friday on the slow roll out process—DATA WILLING. Wants to be the surest and safest when it comes to re-opening as opposed to the fastest and first. Will come to a decision on schools sometime mid-May.
- Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box did not join today due to a non-COVID-19 related family emergency.
- Family and Social Services Chief Medical Officer Dr. Dan Rusyniak Dan reported 963 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and 31 deaths. That brings to 15,961 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus. A total of 844 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died of COVID-19. A majority of these new cases came from Cass County at a local meat packing plant. An additional 88 Hoosiers have been added to the suspected COVID-19 deaths. 43.8% of ICU beds available and 79% of ventilators are available. Over 2,500 Hoosiers have signed up to participate in the scientific study with IUPUI announced last week that plans to test 5,000 Hoosiers total. Long term care facilities make up about 10% of the total confirmed cases and 32% of the total deaths from COVID-19 in Indiana. Adding aggregate data from long term care facilities to ISDH website and it will be updated every Monday morning. Not providing separate breakdown for staff because most of them work at more than one facility so want to avoid a double count in the data. Releasing new guidance to require facilities to designate a staff member to provide daily communications to residents and family members regarding COVID-19—this exceeds CDC guidelines. Created a program for family members unhappy with communication at long-term care facilities to voice their concerns. Have discussed civil lawsuit immunity for nursing homes but have not removed all liabilities to date.
- Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles announced they will be conducting fly overs in Fort Wayne tomorrow (between 11:10 and 11:15 ET) and Indianapolis Thursday (between 10:45 and 11:05 am ET). These missions aid in the training of pilots and crew and were already in the budget.
- Family and Social Services Secretary Dr. Jennifer Sullivan reported applications for community and family support up significantly due to the pandemic. 12 statewide sites opening to help people who are recovering from COVID and also experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Distributing shelf-stable meals for the needy from FEMA. SNAP is adding delivery so that people can use it without going out into the store. Bewellindiana.org is a new tool Hoosiers to find free mental health resources and access to addiction recovery support programs. Highlighted other efforts by the agency to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on our most vulnerable population. Noted she hopes many of these programs will continue after the pandemic.
- Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston taking a look at how best to use the $2.4B in federal funding. The economic recovery team spent about 4 hours today talking about it. Exact structure has not been finalized.
- Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne reported the state received about 65,000 applications from self-employed/independent contractors/gig workers since the new system went live late last week. Payments should start going out the week of May 8.
April 24, 2020
- Governor Holcomb thanked Hoosiers for their sacrifices for the past 4+ weeks and reiterated we are in a good position because of the sacrifices. Reminded everyone that Monday is the first step out of lockdown when hospitals are allowed to resume elective procedures (Executive Order released today). Broader lockdown order is scheduled to expire next Friday. Additional guidance will be issued next week that will vary among different entities/businesses (schools, churches, restaurants etc.). Working with DOE and SBOE to make decision on sports and other large group gatherings soon (mid-May decision).
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 656 new cases and 35 additional deaths. 13,680 Hoosiers confirmed to have COVID-19 to date. 741 Hoosiers have died to date or 1% of all individuals who have been tested and 5.4% of all confirmed cases. Will add an additional 79 deaths as a result of publishing presumptive deaths. Will have its own grouping on the website and not included in total deaths. Provided update on efforts to secure PPE: 1,178,000 items of PPE to date and expect 300,000 more to be delivered soon.
- United States Senator Braun provided the highlights of the recent passage of additional COVID-19 funding from Congress. Urged there will be a new normal that is based on keeping everyone safe. Praised Holcomb and his administration for efforts to date. 35,990 Paycheck Protection Program loan applications have been approved for nearly $7.5B.
April 23, 2020
- Governor Holcomb will provide a full update on status of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) tomorrow. Praised the efforts of food banks and pantries providing food all around the state. Reiterated how important the partnership with Fairbanks will be for the State once the data is collected and analyzed. No state employees have been furloughed but have implemented a hiring freeze with exception for those agencies on the front lines.
- Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Payne reported weekly claims for unemployment continue to drop from the peak in March. 75,483 claims filed for the week of April 18. Made a record number of payments in the month of March to about 350,000 Hoosiers. $600 federal supplemental payment started last Friday. Continue to work on issues with the call centers, handled over a million call interactions last month. Number one reason people call is for “general” questions and urged Hoosiers to go to unemployment.in.gov before calling. Provided update on the new program for new unemployment class of workers (self-employed/contractor/gig-economy). Will begin accepting applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance tomorrow. Will take the unemployment system uplink offline to make the update at 7:00 pm tonight. Targeting May 8 to make disbursements but a fluid deadline. 21-day average wait period from time of application to payment–depends on the individual. Provided update on virtual job fair yesterday in NE Indiana and April 28 in Bloomington, May 5 for eastern Indiana and May 6 will be for GM in Kokomo looking to fill 1,800 jobs.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 612 new cases and an additional 45 deaths. Brings total number of confirmed Hoosier cases to 13,039 and 706 have lost their lives or 1% of all confirmed cases. Reported 2,594 new tests today, which is not ideal but working on outpatient testing and then will conduct trace contacting. Announced partnership with IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health to conduct a study of Hoosiers to gain a scientifically valid estimate of people in Indiana who are infected with COVID-19 or were previously infected and now have anitbodies. This first of its kind data will better inform what a “new” normal looks like after reopening. Reaching out to past confirmed cases to get them to agree to participate and to confirm the data on the tests. Urged Hoosiers to participate in the study. Announced FDA has authorized the first self-administered COVID-19 tests that can be conducted at home.
- IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health Founding Dean Paul Halverson provided an overview of their public health efforts over the years and efforts to date in supporting Indiana in the study. Goal of the study is to determine the actual prevalence of COVD-19 in Indiana.
April 22, 2020
- Governor Holcomb praised known and anonymous Hoosiers working to make their communities better like someone paying sewer bills in Fortville. Executing a confirmed case tracing procedure is critical to re-opening in a safe and productive manner. Will provide an update on PPE purchasing tomorrow.
- Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 394 new cases and 31 additional deaths. These may be lower than reality due to connectivity issues that have since been resolved. 12,438 known confirmed cases and 661 total deaths. 46% of ICU beds available and 77% of ventilators. Of the 1068 Longterm Care Facility (LTCF) cases, 993 involved residents and 575 were staff. Working to make these aggregate numbers available on the website. Federal guidance coming to require LTCF to communicate with staff, residents and families to ensure timely and accurate information is provided. Working to create state guidance and will share next week. In order for state and local health departments to know someone is positive and conduct contact tracing, there has to be tests. Asked that physicians and healthcare providers be able to test when case is suspected. In the process of making sure there is access to remove the barriers to get more testing done. Strike teams are treating jails just like LTCF due to similar environments. Indiana has the ability to run the tests but just need to make sure facilities know how to conduct the tests and ensure they have equipment needed.
- Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch announced Indiana is reopening Indiana’s hardest hit fund with $30M in funding to provide up to 6 months of mortgage payments. Indiana Grown is working to bridge the supply chain interruptions to connect farmers with food pantries and other outlets. Office of Community and Rural Affairs launched the COVID-19 Response Program on April 1 to repurpose $4.5M to help with testing in rural areas. Announced 13 recipients. Will announce additional guidance and funding in the future. Office of Tourism Development is partnering with Rockport Analytics to research and determine the true economic impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry in order to better guide in recovery planning. Next Level Connections Broadband program already has awarded more than $28M to connect over 11,000 households across 18 Counties. An additional $70M in funding is available for Round 2 with applications due by May 26. 4% of corn and 2% of soybeans have been planted, which is slightly ahead of the 5 year average. No data was provided regarding hemp.
- Family and Social Services Commissioner Dr. Dan Rusyniak provided insight into the make up of the Strike teams. They consist of individuals with different backgrounds. There are people who identify where they need to concentrate efforts, there are drivers, there is a nurse, and epi and infection control support. They will identify residents that need testing and get the results back quickly. There are additional team members that can work with the LTCF if a breakout is underway.
- Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne reported that Indiana is exploring the CARES Work-share Program. Trying to make sure to prioritize what we have to roll out first. Will provide an update.
April 21, 2020
- Governor Holcomb urged businesses to think about how they will operate and provide a safe environment for their employees, industry input due by tomorrow. Advised businesses to be prepared to be open “in May.” Provided a list of examples of possible changes he has received from industries to date: cleaning protocols, physical distancing, reducing density of people, redesigning the workplace place/flow of production, installing physical barriers, visitation policies, wearing masks, wearing gloves, washing hands throughout the day, travel, regular temperature checks, regular testing, what protocol for a positive test. Communicating with the Economic Recovery team “about every 12 minutes” and making progress. Two goals: (1) restart businesses and (2) reboot citizens’ lives. Concerned about how the re-opening happens, especially in border counties, and that they are taking a collaborative approach with the Great Lakes region. Expressed he is open to a regional or statewide approach depending on the specific change to the stay at home order.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 431 new cases reported in the last 24 hours including 61 deaths reported. 47.4% of ICUs beds available and 77.1% of ventilators available. Highlighted new data sets by race on the website. Highlighted partnerships in Lake County and the City of Gary. Reiterated the state did not turn down 50,000 free tests from a local testing company. Reiterated they have no plans to provide long term care specific COVID-19 data–only aggregate data.
- Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston announced Congress just reached an agreement in principal on new COVID-19 funding package. Senate will take up this afternoon. The Economic Recovery team is meeting daily and is looking at intersection of public health guidance and working with industry groups to make sure they are prepared. Focused on a concerted effort for the roll out.
- Deputy General Counsel Cindy Carrasco highlighted the Indiana Supreme Court opinion issued yesterday regarding the garnishment of stimulus money from debtors. The Court found state courts may not issue new orders that would stake stimulus from a debtor. Does not apply to child support orders.
- National Guard provided an update on the efforts to make sure Northwest Indiana is able to properly respond to any surges of cases in the region and the rest of the state. Completed reconnaissance of two possible locations for field hospitals and are prepared for any surge.
- Senior Education Advisor to Governor Holcomb Dr. Katie Jenner has engaged K-12 and higher education on how best to solve connectivity and device availability for rural and urban school districts. Pointed out one success story in Marion County on how to solve connectivity issues.
- Indiana Department of Corrections Chief Medical officer Dr. Kristen Dauss reported Indiana is exploring the possibility of mass testing prison inmates for COVID-19 similar to Ohio.
- City of Gary Mayor Jerome Prince provided an update to the steps his community has taken to respond to and mitigate the impact of COVID-19.
- City of Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore focused on how his community has come together to make sure everyone and every neighborhood is doing well.
April 20, 2020
- Governor Holcomb announced changes to the stay at home order. Opening up an elective procedures in a staged approached: (1) hospitals should conduct non emergent procedures (examples include diagnosing cardiac issues or cancer, upper/lower endoscopy or respiratory procedures or procedures to reduce pain); and (2) open elective procedures in other areas next week. Future restrictions regarding procedures will be evaluated every 7 days. Nursery and greenhouses clarified as well. These changes are possible because Hoosiers are taking it serious and community effort to rush to area of needs. Will continue to allow the data to drive our decisions. Reiterated call for industries to submit ideas on how best to open up in a post-COVID-19 economy. Praised the the 16K doctors and 152K nurses working to help COVID-19 patients. Reiterated the reopening of the economy will be methodical based on data.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box reported 505 new cases and 7 new deaths in Indiana. Will include presumptive positive cases in death total this week so numbers will likely jump. These are not new deaths. More information to come this week. 3,585 new tests reported today. Last week 2531 tests conducted in 4 drive thru clinics. Will continue offering these clinics Monday through Wednesday of this week. Will conduct robust contact tracing and ask people who came in contact with a positive person to quarantine for 14 days. Rule change to require long term care facilities to notify state and families on positive cases– still be required to follow all privacy laws. Issued new guidance for end of life situations to allow more people to assist–applies to those with COVID-19 as well. Working on developing a plan for testing asymptomatic people.
- Governor Holcomb General Counsel Joe Heerens provided an update on the enforcement arm for complaints about businesses violating executive orders. To date, the total aggregate number of complaints is 982, number of complaints found to be without merit 866, number of verbal warnings 74, and there have not been any cease and desist orders, orders to close or referrals to prosecutors issued. David Cook at the ATC is heading up the enforcement effort. Looking at easing into opening back up surgeries one week from today as long as data supports that decision.
April 17, 2020
- Governor Holcomb provided an update on the upgrade of the unemployment operating system upgrade last night and have began disbursing the $600 payments to Hoosiers. Announced the extension of the stay-at-home order will come Monday to May 1. This is an extension of 1 week instead of 2 weeks as in past. Will provide tweaks to order like working with the hospital association to safely roll out elective procedures. Planning a safe re-opening and thats why we are seeking input from several industry stakeholder groups by next Wednesday. Reached out to the Great Lakes region to emphasis a collaborative effort on this re-opening.
- Indiana Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Box highlighted the new data available on the website on a County by County basis and provided an in depth breakdown on the data collected. Analyzed about 8,000 patients who went to the hospital for COVID-19—2,700 ended up in ER. This means about 6,000 never hit the hospital system and recovered at home. Generally, 68% of patients discharged, 20% still in hospital and 12% passed away. Expressed gratitude to the people who are making sense of the data and will provide data by race in the near future. Reported a new daily high in test results and positive cases. Currently, a 19% positive rate but expects the number to drop as the testing parameters open up to less at risk individuals. Steady availability of ICU beds and ventilators. Testing limited to those with symptoms and people without symptoms in high-risk categories. Hopes that doctors are testing anyone with symptoms.
- President of Medical Staff for Community Health Dr. Yeleti gave insight into what it was like to test positive for COVID-19 and the recovery process. Stressed the importance of going to the hospital if you feel seriously ill as there has been a rise of Hoosiers dying at home of non-COVID-19 causes like cardiac arrest.