THE LATEST: PPE Marketplace hits 20,000-bundle mark; BMV to begin charging penalty fees again; no movie theaters, playgrounds in Stage 3

Get the latest news on the COVID-19 pandemic in this ongoing series of updates available outside IBJ’s paywall:

4:25 p.m., May 22

State’s PPE Marketplace hits 20,000-bundle mark

Indiana has shipped more than 20,000 bundles of personal protective equipment, or PPE, to businesses around the state to allow them to operate or reopen with proper safety protocols.

And the state’s PPE Marketplace expects to ramp up and ship 15,000 bundles a week starting next month, Luke Bosso, chief of staff at the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said Friday during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press briefing.

The PPE Marketplace is an online hub run by the IEDC. Businesses with 150 employees or fewer can order masks, face shields and hand sanitizer for free. Early customers include restaurants and retail stores.

The marketplace opened May 6 and made its first delivery two days later. The state said all businesses are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own. The hub is designed to serve as a last-resort backstop for employers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All requests will be evaluated and fulfilled based on work environment risk profile, stock availability, and the number of outstanding requests,” says the IEDC website. “At times, partial or delayed fulfillment of requests may occur. We appreciate your continued patience and understanding during this time.”

3:57 p.m., May 22

BMV to begin charging penalty fees again July 1

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles announced Friday that it will resume charging administrative penalty fees July 1.

Those fees have been waived since March 16 during the public health crisis.

The BMV said all Hoosiers with expired driver’s licenses, permits, state identification cards and vehicle registrations need to complete renewal transactions before July 1 to avoid paying a penalty fee.

Title transactions and new vehicle registrations also must be completed before July 1.

The BMV also will resume online credit card transaction fees.

More information is available here. BMV appointments can be scheduled here.

4:25 p.m., May 21

Governor takes movie theaters, playgrounds out of Stage 3

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order Thursday to move Indiana into Stage 3 of his pandemic reopening plan, which begins Friday, but the governor removed movie theaters and playgrounds from the schedule.

Movie theaters are now projected to open along with other entertainment facilities and venues during stage 4 on June 14, the state said. Playgrounds are to be determined.

Stage 3, which is being activated two days earlier than previously scheduled, applies to the entire state, except for Marion, Lake and Cass counties, which will be allowed to start Stage 3 on June 1 if local authorities approve of that move.

Here are the major things that are now allowed:

– Social gatherings of up to 100 people;

– Gyms, YMCAs and fitness facilities to open, with restrictions;

– Community pools and campgrounds to open;

– Recreational sports practices to begin under guidelines, except for contact sports;

– Basketball and tennis courts and soccer and baseball fields to open;

– Restaurant dining rooms to remain at 50% capacity;

– Retail stores and shopping malls to open at 75% capacity;

Remote work is still encouraged whenever possible in Stage 3. Bars, nightclubs and entertainment and sports venues are to remain closed. Casinos also must stay closed.

Individuals are strongly encouraged—but not required—to wear a face mask when in public or around other people. Hoosiers who can work from home are encouraged to continue to do so.

3:32 p.m., May 21

CVS to offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing at 14 area sites

Drugstore chain CVS will offer COVID-19 testing at 21 sites in Indiana, including 14 drive-thru pharmacies in the Indianapolis area, beginning Friday, it announced Thursday.

A physician’s referral is not required, but people must register in advance for an appointment at CVS.com, then fill out a questionnaire to confirm eligibility by standards set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Those standards require that individuals have symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, muscle pain, new loss of taste or smell, vomiting or diarrhea. People without symptoms also are eligible if they are prioritized by health providers or health departments.

After registering, people will be provided without an appointment time for the same day or up to two days out to drive up to a CVS pharmacy window and get a kit for a self-swab test, which can be administered on the spot and dropped off in a nearby box.

The test do not have any out-of-pocket costs for people with insurance. Uninsured patients will be covered under a federal program. The lab specimens will be sent to outside labs and results will be available in about three days, CVS said.

CVS did not have the Indiana locations listed on its site Thursday afternoon, but provided these locations in a press release:

In Indianapolis: 1299 W. Southport Road; 2320 Cunningham Road; 9550 Allisonville Road; 5925 E. 71st St.; 9805 Geist Crossing Drive; 8330 Crawfordsville Road; 1030 Arlington Ave.; 7240 E. 82nd St.; 336 S. Delaware St.

Others sites are 14835 Sunny Dell Lane and 13085 Tegler Drive in Noblesville; 13090 Pettigru Drive in Carmel; 3280 E. State Road 32 in Westfield; and 1466 W. Oak St. in Zionsville

3:20 p.m., May 21

Carmel to reopen portion of trail, Midtown Plaza

The city of Carmel plans to reopen a portion of its downtown trail and resume activities in an adjacent public plaza at noon Friday, two months after those areas were closed to avoid overcrowding during the pandemic.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard barred the public from using the Monon Greenway from Gradle Drive to Main Street and closed the Midtown Plaza on March 26 to stop people from congregating and potentially spreading COVID-19. Those amenities will reopen Friday with new sanitation stations, socially distanced seating and reduced shared-activity space. Life music performances and public movie viewings will resume in the area next week.

City officials might again close those areas to the public under certain conditions, including if more than 70% of area hospital beds become occupied and unavailable for a surge of new cases..

The city is placing signs along the Monon Greenway and Midtown Plaza to encourage visitors to wear face masks. Additional measures include extra space between seating fixtures and the continued closure of shared amenities, like pool tables and ping-pong tables.

Programming at those spaces will also look slightly different. Monday Movies at Midtown Plaza will feature four different showtimes for movies to prevent one mass gathering. Tuesday’s live music features two shows and require concertgoers to engage in social distancing.

4:05 p.m., May 20

Nursing home chain reports 246 COVID-19 deaths in Indiana

More than 16% of the residents at the state’s largest nursing home chain have tested positive for COVID-19—and more than a quarter of those residents have died.

American Senior Communities, which operates 78 skilled nursing facilities and five assisted living communities across the state with Health & Hospital Corp. of Marion County, said Tuesday that 6,060 of its 6,959 residents have been tested for COVID-19. Of those:

– 246 have died;
– 285 have recovered;
– 621 currently have COVID-19.

In addition, ASC said 367 of its 10,287 employees have tested positive for the virus, including 233 who have recovered. The company said it has hired 747 additional staff members since the pandemic began.

Nursing homes have been the biggest source of COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 3,625 nursing home residents have tested positive for the virus and 732 have died. That accounts for 12.3% of the total cases in the state and 42.6% of the deaths.

The White House recently recommended that states test all employees and residents at long-term care facilities over the next two weeks, but State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said that’s not realistic in Indiana.

Box said that would require testing more than 100,000 individuals by the end of the month.

“I can assure you, unfortunately, that is not going to happen,” Box said. “But we are working to make sure that we are testing all of our employees of long-term care facilities and that we have the opportunity to either connect them with Optum (testing) sites or do that testing in the facilities for them or to be able to provide them with the test kits.”

11:15 p.m., May 18

Carmel to begin testing city employees for COVID-19 antibodies

The city of Carmel said it plans to begin testing for COVID-19 antibodies in city employees as soon as June 1.

Carmel is already paying Aria Diagnostics to conduct viral tests on city employees on a weekly basis at a cost of $135 per employee, racking up a bill of more than $350,000 so far. The hope is that the cheaper antibody test, priced at $53 per employee, will save the city money.

Antibody blood tests can show if  somebody had a previous infection with the virus—even if they never had symptoms. Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections and they might indicate a certain level of immunity.

Any city employee who tests positive for antibodies will no longer need to be virally tested unless they begin to show symptoms. The city currently has 25 employees who have tested positive for the virus.

Carmel said it reviewed five vendors for the antibody testing and selected American Health Network for their pricing, their ability to test large numbers of employees at convenient locations and their experienced staff.

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said testing employees has many positives. He said slightly more than 4% of the city work force has tested positive, and a majority of them were asymptomatic.

“Spending money to test employees for the virus helps us save lives, stop the spread of the virus and avoid having to pay the estimated $100,000 cost of hospitalization for a week for just one employee,” he said in written comments. “Because we were able to detect the existence of the virus, we could initiate contact tracing, determine others who should be tested, keep our employees safe and cut down the spread of this disease in our community.”

Brainard said the antibody test will help determine those who might be immune. Employees who have the antibodies might also be able to donate plasma to help people with the most severe cases of COVID-19 recover more quickly.

10:45 p.m., May 18

Coronavirus outbreak closes southern Indiana poultry plant

About 100 workers at a southern Indiana poultry processing plant have tested positive for the coronavirus in an outbreak that has it closed until at least Wednesday.

Farbest Foods had the nearly 600 workers at its Huntingburg plant tested on Friday, and the company was working Monday and Tuesday to notify healthy employees on when to return, said Ted Seger, president of the Jasper-based company.

The plant is at least the fourth Indiana meat or poultry processing plant that has faced outbreaks of COVID-19 among its workforce similar to others in the industry across the country.

The worst such outbreak in Indiana has been at a Tyson pork-processing plant in Logansport, which was closed for nearly two weeks. Tests confirmed COVID-19 infections among nearly 900 of the plant’s 2,200 employees, the company said. Smaller outbreaks happened at Indiana Packers Corp. in Delphi and Miller Poultry in Orland.

Seger said in a statement that tests confirmed 101 of the Farbest workers as infected with COVID-19 but without symptoms, while 23 tests were pending verification.

The Farbest cases have fueled 91 new confirmed coronavirus infections since Friday that have more than doubled the total number of cases to 161 in DuBois County, where the plant is located, according to Monday’s state health department update.

State health crews have been monitoring cleaning work at the plant ahead of its reopening, said Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said company and local officials have been “working hand in glove with us to make sure we are able to contain that spread.”

12:45 p.m., May 18

City announces details of $5 million grant program

The city of Indianapolis on Monday rolled out details of a $5 million grant program it mentioned last week when it announced its reopening plan.

The Restart Grant Program, conducted in partnership with Indy Chamber, will reimburse qualifying small businesses up to $5,000 for the purchase of personal protective equipment they need to reopen.

In order to be eligible for a grant, an applicant must meet the following requirements with supporting documentation: be a private for-profit business with 150 employees or fewer; occupy the Marion County address on their business registration; have a business start date before Feb. 15; purchased personal protective equipment, professional cleaning and disinfection services and/or capital improvements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Businesses also must comply with the state’s and Marion County’s reopening guidelines between May 1 and June 8.

Purchases eligible for reimbursement include personal protective equipment such as masks, face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant products. Capital improvements include signage, air handling, partitioning for social distancing and construction that improves health and safety.

Applicants will be required to upload receipts for eligible purchases made from May 1 to June 8 showing the goods or services purchased, date of purchase, and vendor.

Businesses can visit response.indychamber.com/restart to connect with the Indy Chamber and learn more.

11:55 p.m., May 17

Holiday World amusement park plans June 17 reopening

A southern Indiana amusement park plans to begin reopening the popular destination in mid-June with reduced capacity, a virtual queuing system and other safeguards against the coronavirus.

“It’s important that we open slowly and safely, so we want to make sure we have Holiday World operations finely tuned when we open Splashin’ Safari,” park president Matt Eckert said.

Holiday World plans to reopen on June 17 with crowds limited to 50% of capacity. The park’s Splashin’ Safari water rides will reopen no later than July 4.

The park has added hand sanitizer stations and increased the frequency of its sanitation procedures, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

Guests will be asked to use the park’s new reservation system, which creates a virtual line for a given attraction. Guests sign in with their smartphone, or a bar-coded wristband, for each ride, which reduces the amount of time patrons will stand in a physical line.

In place of reservations, the park will sell tickets online for a specific date. Officials ask that guests come with their ticket in hand to ensure ease of entry.

Both Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari will also add three operating dates to the schedule in August.

The park was founded as Santa Claus Land in 1946. It’s located in the Spencer County town of Santa Claus, about 35 miles east of Evansville.

11:45 p.m., May 17

Hoosier Lottery opens payment offices by appointment only

The Hoosier Lottery says that beginning Monday its prize payment offices in Indianapolis, Mishawaka and Evansville will reopen by appointment only for in-person redemption of prizes of $600 or more.

To schedule an appointment, players should call 1-800-955-6886. Due to social distancing guidelines during the coronavirus outbreak, all appointments must be scheduled in advance. Same-day appointments may not be available.

The lottery says prizes up to $599 may be redeemed at Hoosier Lottery retailers.

Due to limited availability of appointments, players are encouraged to mail in any prize claims up to $99,999.

3:57 p.m., May 15

Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace gets 20,000 requests

The Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace, designed to help employers obtain personal protective equipment during the pandemic, has already received 20,000 requests for equipment since its launch May 6, Luke Bosso, chief of staff for the Indiana Economic Development Corp., said Friday.

To date, 10,000 orders have been shipped and 12,000 orders are anticipated to go out next week, Bosso said.

In order to reopen, employees at many businesses, such as personal care services and restaurants, are required to wear masks while working. To help small businesses get their hands on the equipment needed, the state launched the marketplace, which is overseen by the IEDC but stocked with products from Indiana businesses.

In order to qualify to order equipment from the marketplace, a business or not-for-profit must be registered to do business in Indiana and have fewer than 150 employees. The marketplace also is limited to retailers, restaurants, personal services and offices.

The equipment includes hand sanitizer, face masks and face shields.

All businesses and not-for-profits are encouraged to first source and procure PPE on their own, with the marketplace serving as an alternate backstop for employers, Bosso said.

12:41 p.m., May 14

Indiana Manufacturers Association launches PPE listing site

The Indiana Manufacturers Association is trying to help connect companies to personal protective equipment suppliers.

The organization has created an online listing where manufacturers can search for specific items, such as face shields, hand sanitizer and gloves.

Manufacturers can also submit information in order to be listed as a supplier on the website.

The listing is free to use, for members and non-members of the association. It can be found here.

3:55 p.m., May 13

Indy Irish Fest falls victim to virus concerns

Organizers of the Indy Irish Festival have canceled what would have been the 25th annual festival due to COVID-19 concerns. It had been scheduled for Sept. 18-20.

The event, which annually features live music, vendors and cultural activities, is held in Military Park downtown and typically draws tens of thousands of visitors over the course of the weekend. The festival also serves as a fundraiser for several community organizations.

In a statement posted on the festival’s website, organizers said they decided to cancel this year’s event because the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic was complicating the “significant upfront planning and logistics” required to coordinate the attendees, vendors and entertainers, some of whom travel to the festival from outside of the country.

Those who already bought tickets for this year’s event can either save the tickets to use at next year’s event, request a refund or donate the purchase price to Indy Irish Festival, which is a not-for-profit organization.

12:25 p.m., May 13

Convicted stockbroker Buck seeks early release from prison

Former powerhouse Merrill Lynch broker Thomas Buck, who was sentenced to 40 months in federal prison last year for securities fraud, has asked a district court to give him “compassionate release” or home confinement because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Buck, 66, who is housed at the Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, began his sentence March 21, 2019, and isn’t scheduled to get out until Jan. 20, 2022.

The motion says Buck is vulnerable to a bad outcome from the coronavirus because he has a medical history of respiratory disease, including asthma and suspected bronchitis.

If released, Buck said he would return to an apartment he maintains in Indianapolis.

Buck is among numerous white-collar prisoners who have asked for early release during the pandemic.

Paul Elmer, the 69-year-old former CEO of Pharmakon Pharmaceuticals, filed a motion in April to be released from the Terre Haute facility. Elmer, of Carmel, was sentenced in September to 33 months in prison for manufacturing and selling drugs that were as much as 25 times more potent than they should have been.

Earlier, Todd Wolfe, founder of the defunct Indianapolis debt-collection agency Deca Financial Services Inc., filed a motion seeking compassionate release from the Big Sandy U.S. Penitentiary in Inez, Kentucky. Wolfe in June 2017 was sentenced to 51 months in prison for wire, bank and bankruptcy fraud.

On Wednesday morning, President Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was released from prison to serve the remainder of his sentence in home confinement. The 71-year-old was found guilty of tax fraud in March 2019. He was slated to be released in November 2024.

10:45 p.m., May 12

Indianapolis Public Schools to hold virtual graduations

Indianapolis Public Schools will move its high school graduation ceremonies online amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The district announced Tuesday that its four high schools will each hold virtual ceremonies June 4-5 that will be pre-recorded and broadcast on Facebook.

“We didn’t make this decision lightly,” IPS Superintendent Aleesia Johnson said in an emailed statement. “We assembled an advisory group of high school seniors to get their ideas. In the end, students wanted to mark their graduation, as scheduled, in June and felt a virtual celebration was a fitting option in a time of social distancing.”

The city’s central district, the largest in the state, has more than 1,200 seniors.

Schools across Indiana and the nation have been forced to rethink traditional graduation ceremonies while local and state restrictions are in place to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. While some schools have moved the pomp and circumstance online, others are looking to venues such as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or school parking lots to mark the occasion while maintaining social distancing. A few, such as Mishawaka High School, still want to hold in-person ceremonies if possible later in the year. — Chalkbeat Indiana

12:53 p.m., May 12

Business group releases back-to-work playbooks

The Central Indiana Corporate Partnership has released three free industry-specific guides to help employers resume operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each guide offers advice geared toward a particular type of workplace: manufacturing, logistics and warehousing; office settings; and sales and service environments such as retail stores.

Topics covered in each guide include deciding when to reopen, cleaning and disinfecting protocols, implementing social distancing and developing workforce continuity plans.

The guides were developed with help from regional business leaders, including Cummins Inc. CEO Tom Linebarger and others; along with the leaders of CICP’s industry groups, including Conexus Indiana CEO Mark Howell and Energy Systems Network CEO Paul Mitchell.

All three guides are available at CICP’s website.

6:30 p.m., May 11

Hamilton County rolls out stabilization fund

Businesses throughout Hamilton County now have access to a $250,000 pot of money dedicated to helping them weather the COVID-19 shutdown.

Hamilton County’s councilors and commissioners established the Hamilton County Stabilization Fund on Monday to provide businesses with up to $10,000 in grants for payroll, utilities, rent, mortgage payments, insurance, other services and materials directly tied to products that business sells.

Eligible businesses must apply for the needs-based assistance through the Hamilton County website by the close of business on Friday, May 22. Criteria for the grants is listed on the site.

“The grants are meant to help small businesses hit hard by government-mandated shutdowns,” Councilman Fred Glynn said in a written statement. “Fortunately, because county government is managed in a fiscally responsible manner, we are able to invest back in our community in times of crisis.”

Grants recipients will be notified during the week of May 25th, and payments will be distributed before June 9.

4:20 p.m., May 11

State issues first cease-and-desist order

The state has issued its first cease-and-desist letter to a business for not complying with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive orders.

Joe Heerens, the governor’s general counsel, said Monday that the governor’s Enforcement Response Team has investigated 1,458 complaints and issued 138 verbal warnings to date.

“We’re trying to work with businesses to get to compliance, not go right into enforcement,” Heerens said.

But Daugherty Speedway, which planned to start races again at its 3/8-mile dirt track near Boswell, was initially given a verbal warning and did not comply, Heerens said. So, the state sent its first cease-and-desist letter.

According to the Lafayette Journal & Courier, Benton County officials then placed concrete barriers around the speedway’s property to make sure the owner complied with the order.

Heerens said the business is now considered to be in compliance.

4:10 p.m., May 11

Immunization numbers for children drop during pandemic

State officials are urging Hoosiers to keep their regularly scheduled wellness appointments with their doctors and to take their children in for vaccinations.

Dr. Tony GiaQuinta, president of the Indiana chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said during Monday’s press briefing that immunization rates have dropped between 30% and 40% in the state because parents are worrying about taking their children into the doctor’s office during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When we delay vaccinations, we definitely increase the risk of emerging infectious diseases,” GiaQuinta said.

He said it could increase the chances for an outbreak of the measles or whopping cough, for example.

“This is really highlighting the need to get back into your pediatrician’s office,” GiaQuinta said. “We are open for children, and your pediatrician needs to see you in their office.”

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box also encouraged individuals not to postpone routine screenings like colonoscopies, Pap smears and mammograms.

“We do not want people to delay getting medical care and then wind up with a more serious illness or invasive problem down the road,” Box said.

3:15 p.m., May 11

63 local first responders return to work after COVID-19 recovery

Marion County officials announced this week that 63 first responders in Indianapolis who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and returned to work.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center’s latest numbers show 37 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, 30 Indianapolis Fire Department Firefighters and eight Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Twenty-nine of those police officers, 27 of those firefighters and seven of the emergency medical employees have recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional and returned to work.

Indianapolis first responders who test positive for COVID-19 are self-quarantined at home and monitored for any progression of symptoms. Those individuals return to work only after being cleared by a doctor.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers who serve in 78 beats across Indianapolis. IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters who serve neighborhoods from 43 fire stations. IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

10:30 a.m., May 11

Indiana Department of Revenue extends several tax deadlines

The Indiana Department of Revenue on Monday extended deadlines for several individual and corporate tax returns during the COVID-19 health crisis.

– Individual estimated payments originally due on June 15 are now due on or before July 15, 2020;

– The deadline for filing a claim for refund of income tax set to expire between April 1 and July 14 is extended to July 15 (including refunds of withholding or estimated tax paid in 2016);

– Corporate estimated payments due on April 20, May 20 or June 22 are now due on or before July 15;

– The following corporate tax returns due on May 15, June 15 or July 15 are now due on Aug. 17: Forms IT-20, IT-41, IT-65, IT-20S, FIT-20, IT-6WTH and URT-1.

DOR announced several other deadline extensions in mid-March. All changes related to the pandemic can be found on DOR’s coronavirus webpage.

10:15 a.m., May 11

Salvation Army to pack 5,000 more food boxes at stadium

The Salvation Army, in collaboration with Midwest Food Bank, plans to pack 5,000 more boxes of food on Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium to help families in need during the pandemic.

In April, 10,000 food boxes were packed at the stadium and distributed to food pantries across the state. The Salvation Army is using funds from a recent Lilly Endowment grant to purchase enough food to fill another 5,000 boxes.

Volunteers from Midwest Food Bank and the Salvation Army will work with Lucas Oil Stadium staff and Indiana National Guard members to fill and prepare the food boxes for distribution. Two Men and Truck will start distributing the boxes to food pantries on Wednesday.

New shipments of food boxes are slated to revisit hard-hit communities such as New Albany, Columbus, Evansville, Greenwood, and Fort Wayne. Several rural counties, including Miami County, Fayette County, and Clinton County, also will get food boxes to assist with local feeding programs.

The boxes will be filled with shelf-stable food items.

4:07 p.m., May 8

Independent contractors, self-employed Hoosiers start to receive benefits

The state has started paying unemployment claims to Hoosiers who are independent contractors or self-employed.

Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne said during Friday’s press briefing that the state has made 57,000 payments to those individuals totaling about $119 million.

That brings the total the state has paid in unemployment claims to more than $1 billion.

Payne said on Thursday that the state had made 1.7 million unemployment insurance payments since the beginning of April for a total of $986 million, but that did not include those receiving assistance that was granted through the federal Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security Act.

The delay in payments for some workers stemmed from the fact that states already had records for traditional workers who receive W-2 forms and whose employers pay unemployment taxes. But the process is more complicated for contractors and other independent workers who typically receive 1099s. State agencies need additional documentation, which their systems weren’t set up to handle.

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4:02 p.m., May 8

State receives shipment of antiviral drug remdesivir

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during Friday’s press briefing that the state has received an initial shipment of the antiviral drug remdesivir.

The Food and Drug Administration on May 1 issued an emergency use authorization for the drug to help patients who are hospitalized and seriously ill.

“We’re working with local officials to determine the appropriate patients to treat with this medication,” Box said.

She did not specify how much the state had received.

The medicine has been used to treat other illnesses such as SARS and MERS.

“Studies show that it can help shorten the illness or the length of severe cases for COVID-19,” Box said.

The company that makes the antiviral drug, California-based Gilead Sciences, said it is donating its entire stockpile to help in the nationwide pandemic response.

But the initial supply will be limited, with just 1.5 million doses available, translating to five to 10 days of treatment for 140,000 patients.

3:02 p.m., May 8

Kroger, IPS, health department offering free testing

Kroger Health, the health care division of Kroger Inc., is teaming with the Marion County Public Health Department and Indianapolis Public Schools to provide free, drive-thru COVID-19 testing on the west side of Indianapolis on six different days this month.

The testing will take place at Ernie Pyle School 90, 3351 W. 18th St., from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m. May 12-13, May 19-20 and May 26-27.

Community members with and without symptoms may register at this site.

The drive-thru testing is supported with laboratory services provided by eTrueNorth, a contractor of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

12:35 p.m., May 8

Indy Pride calls off live festival, parade

The organizers of the Indy Pride Festival and Parade have canceled the events, originally scheduled for June 13, and instead are planning online programming that would be live-streamed on June 20.

“Simply put, our 2020 Pride Month events are going to be drastically different,” Chris Handberg, executive director of Indy Pride Inc., said in a Friday press release. “The Indy Pride Board of Directors has made the decision to modify the Indy Pride Festival and our traditional live Pride Month events out of concern for the health and safety of attendees, volunteers and staff.”

Organizers already had announced in March that the 2020 festival and parade would be postponed due to concerns about exposure to the coronavirus. Last year’s festivities drew 50,000 attendees.

Indy Pride still is in the process of planning the virtual festival and will make announcements about content when information is available, Handberg said.

12:15 p.m., May 8

State reports 643 more COVID-19 cases as testing hits new high

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 23,146 following the emergence of 643 more cases.

The state reported 633 new cases on Thursday, 837 on Wednesday, 526 on Tuesday, 574 on Monday, 638 on Sunday and 665 on Saturday.

The state said Friday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,328, up from 1,295 the previous day—an increase of 33.

More than 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. More than 74% of those who have died are older than 70. Men account for 52.2% of the deaths.

The state reported that 130,128 people have been tested so far, up from 124,782 in Thursday’s report—an increase of 5,346. That’s the first time new tests have exceeded 5,000 in the department’s daily report.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6 and first death from COVID-19 on March 16.

MORE

10:35 a.m., May 8

CIB reports 59% decline in March operating revenue

The organization that oversees the city’s convention venues has taken a hit to its operating revenue from the collapse to tourism brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, which manages the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, announced Friday that it had a 59% decline in operating revenue in March, compared with the same month of 2019. It brought in about $2 million during the month—54% below budget.

Operating revenue accounts for one-third of the CIB’s $143 million annual budget and is directly tied to events at its facilities. It is not used to service debt, meaning the CIB is not at immediate risk of defaulting on bonds for any outstanding projects.

The rest of the CIB’s budget comes from tourism, hospitality and restaurant taxes—all industries that have suffered tremendous losses since shutdowns began in mid-March.

The CIB collected about $8.6 million in February, which was applied to its March budget. The figure is 8% higher than one year prior and about 25% ahead of budget. March tax figures won’t be made public until the board’s June meeting.

12:15 p.m., May 7

State reports 633 more COVID-19 cases, 31 additional deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 22,503 following the emergence of 633 more cases.

The state reported 837 new cases on Wednesday, 526 on Tuesday, 574 on Monday, 638 on Sunday, 665 on Saturday and 795 on Friday.

The state said Thursday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,295, up from 1,264 the previous day—an increase of 31.

More than 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. Nearly 75% of those who have died are older than 70. Men account for 52.4% of the deaths.

The state reported that 124,782 people have been tested so far, up from 120,496 in Wednesday’s report—an increase of 4,286.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6 and first death from COVID-19 on March 16.

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8:55 a.m., May 7

Another 3.2M file unemployment claims, including 43,777 in Indiana

Nearly 3.2 million laid-off workers applied for unemployment benefits last week as the business shutdowns caused by the viral outbreak deepened the worst U.S. economic catastrophe in decades.

In Indiana, 43,777 people filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended May 2. That’s down from 55,774 the previous week. Prior to the pandemic, the state was typically seeing fewer than 3,000 claims per week.

Roughly 33.5 million people have now filed for jobless aid in the seven weeks since the coronavirus began forcing millions of companies to close their doors and slash their workforces. That is the equivalent of one in five Americans who had been employed back in February, when the unemployment rate had reached a 50-year low of just 3.5%.

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4:36 p.m., May 6

Hendricks County sees spike in cases due to outbreak in prison

Hendricks County reported 99 new COVID-19 cases from Tuesday to Wednesday, and state officials are attributing that jump to an outbreak in a prison in Plainfield.

Three state prison facilities are located in Hendricks County—Heritage Trail Correctional Facility, Plainfield Correctional Facility and Reception Diagnostic Center. According to the Indiana Department of Correction, Heritage Trail has seen 52 positive COVID-19 cases, Plainfield has seen 139 positive cases, and Reception Diagnostic has seen 107 positive cases. Those numbers include staff and offenders.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said during Wednesday’s press briefing that 68 of the 99 new cases in Hendricks County were from a prison, but she did not specify which facility.

“So, it’s still concerning that the prison has that number of cases… . But the important thing is that it’s not something we think is a community-spread thing,” Box said.

Hendricks County had a total of 883 positive cases as of Wednesday, according to the state health department.

4:29 p.m., May 6

COVID-19 recovery site for homeless serves more than 250 in Indy

A COVID-19 recovery site the state established for homeless individuals in Indianapolis has helped more than 252 people to date, Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Jennifer Sullivan said during Wednesday’s daily press briefing.

In March, the Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded $5 million to the state of Indiana to establish centers for homeless individuals who needed to be quarantined due to exposure to COVID-19 or because they tested positive for the disease. The Indianapolis site opened March 29.

Sullivan said 167 of the 252 individuals have been successfully discharged, 113 of them were referred to primary care appointments, 27 were connected to mental health services and five were able to find long-term housing.

The homelessness population is considered vulnerable to the coronavirus because individuals are often housed in close proximity to one another in shelters and are more likely to have existing health conditions.

Since establishing the Marion County site, the state opened more than a dozen other centers throughout the state. Sullivan said they targeted areas that had high percentages of homeless individuals.

She said they recently expanded the criteria for who can be served at some of the sites to include those experiencing domestic violence or living in group homes with substance use disorders or intellectual or developmental disabilities.

“We have effectively prevented an additional level of public health crisis by avoiding COVID outbreaks in homeless shelters in Indiana,” Sullivan said.

10:25 a.m., May 6

Greenwood cancels Freedom Festival

The city of Greenwood on Wednesday announced the cancellation of its 2020 Freedom Festival.

The patriotic community celebration, which draws more than 60,000 people annually, traditionally takes place the last Saturday of June. It had been scheduled for June 27 this year.

“This was a very difficult decision, but we must prioritize the health and safety of citizens,” said Greenwood Mayor Mark W. Myers in a written statement. “Given the current uncertainty regarding public and social activity, as well as the continued negative impact of COVID-19, we were left with no other choice. Postponement was discussed, but unfortunately, that route is not feasible.”

Greenwood also canceled Mud Day, which was scheduled for June 5.

The city said public playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts, pickleball courts, skate parks and softball diamonds will open May 24, with possible restrictions.

The Greenwood Community Center is scheduled to open May 24 for members only, with a maximum capacity of 100 people.

More information on Greenwood events and dates are available on the city’s website.

10:24 a.m., May 6

Speedway High School graduation to take place at IMS

Speedway High School plans to hold this year’s graduation ceremony at the nearby Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Superintendent Kyle Trebley made the announcement on the town’s Facebook page after speedway officials agreed to host the May 30 event.

The historic 2.5-mile oval just a short stroll from the high school has an estimated 235,000 permanent seats—and more than enough space to safely social distance.

Trebley says other details are still being worked out.

5:25 p.m., May 5

Pence complimented Indiana’s reopening plan, governor says

Gov. Eric Holcomb said during his daily press briefing Tuesday afternoon that he spoke with Vice President Mike Pence on Monday about Indiana’s five-stage plan to reopen state’s economy. Pence, he said, told him he thought the plan was “thorough” and “thoughtful.”

Holcomb announced the phased-in approach on Friday afternoon, with retailers in most counties in the state being allowed to reopen with 50% capacity on Monday, and a goal of completely lifting restrictions by July 4.

Holcomb said Pence told him he has seen a lot of different plans for states across the country, but none have been better than Holcomb’s roadmap for Indiana.

“He held it up, actually, as a model,” Holcomb said.

5:23 p.m., May 5

Indiana launching new coronavirus testing at 20 sites

Indiana’s expanded coronavirus testing program is set to start Wednesday at 20 sites around the state, although those tests still won’t be available to everybody.

The new testing sites are opening under a nearly $18 million state contract with OptumServe Health Services, with 30 more sites expected to open next week.

The program aims to test 100,000 people in the first month. That would nearly double the number of COVID-19 tests reported to the state heath department since early March, but would still be far below the minimum of 20,000 daily tests in Indiana that Eli Lilly and Co.’s chairman wrote in an Indianapolis Star column should be conducted.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, the state health department’s chief medical officer, said Tuesday the new testing program was a start while officials worked to get more laboratories available to analyze tests.

“We’re pretty confident with what we’ve set forward at this point that we really can test the vast majority of people in the state of Indiana if they are symptomatic or if they’re in close contact with somebody who has COVID-19,” Weaver said.

The state health department’s website now lists the OptumServe testing sites and about 80 other locations where tests are available. Registration for the OptumServe testing can be done online.

12:15 p.m., May 5

State reports near-high in COVID-19 deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 21,033, following the emergence of 526 more cases.

That’s the lowest number of new cases in a daily report since April 22, when 341 were reported.

The state reported 574 new cases on Monday, 638 on Sunday, 665 on Saturday, 795 on Friday, 653 on Thursday and 594 on Wednesday.

The state said Tuesday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,213, up from 1,151 the previous day—an increase of 62.

That’s the second-largest number of deaths reported in the health department’s daily reports, exceeded by 63 deaths on April 29.

More than 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. More than 74% of those who have died are older than 70. Men account for more than 53% of the deaths.

The state reported that 115,834 people have been tested so far, up from 113,297 in Sunday’s report—an increase of 2,537. That’s the lowest number of new tests in the daily report since 1,964 were reported on April 26.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

3:03 p.m., May 4

State health department adds 160 deaths to nursing home total

Updated statistics released by the Indiana State Department of Health on Monday added 160 deaths among nursing home residents to the previous statewide total released a week earlier.

The new tallies show 420 COVID-19 nursing home resident deaths, or about 36% of the 1,151 total statewide deaths. The statistics, however, don’t specify when the newly reported nursing home deaths occurred.

Most the nursing home deaths had been previously reported in the overall total of statewide deaths. The state reported 19 new deaths in its Monday report.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and state health officials have refused to identify nursing homes with outbreaks, despite complaints from relatives of home residents about a lack of communication about illnesses and deaths. State officials maintain those facilities face federal and state requirements to notify the families about their COVID-19 status.

12:09 p.m., May 4

Indiana’s total of COVID-19 cases rises above 20,000

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 20,507, following the emergence of 574 more cases.

That’s the lowest number of new cases in a daily report since April 22, when 341 were reported.

The state reported 638 new cases on Sunday, 665 on Saturday, 795 on Friday, 653 on Thursday, 594 on Wednesday and 627 on Tuesday.

The state said Monday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,151, up from 1,132 the previous day—an increase of 19.

About 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 74% of those who have died are older than 70. Men account for more than 53% of the deaths.

The state reported that 113,297 people have been tested so far, up from 108,859 in Sunday’s report—an increase of 4,438.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

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11:35 p.m., May 3

Arts Commission announces Indiana Arts Emergency Relief Fund

The Indiana Arts Commission says the Indiana Arts Emergency Relief Fund will support arts organizations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Money for the fund is coming from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Indiana Arts Commission, and Arts Midwest, with funding provided by the recent federal relief bill.

Fiscal year 2020 arts grant recipients of the arts commission are eligible for funding and will be awarded fixed amounts of approximately $2,500 to $3,000. All eligible organizations will be awarded funds upon the successful completion of a required form.

The deadline for eligible organizations to request funding is May 15.

The arts sector contributes $8.4 billion to Indiana’s economy, and Indiana’s overall creative economy includes 160,000 jobs, over 87,000 of which are employees of arts organizations and businesses.

10:45 p.m., May 3

Indiana Supreme Court to hold May oral arguments remotely

For the first time in its history, the Indiana Supreme Court will hold oral arguments using videoconferencing when it hears cases in May.

That will honor social distancing guidelines during the ongoing public health emergency caused by coronavirus pandemic, it said Friday.

Two cases will be heard on May 14. Six more cases are scheduled for remote oral arguments on May 21 and May 27.

The Supreme Court says justices and attorneys will interact with each other using Zoom webconferencing software. The resulting video and audio will be available to the news media and the public on the court’s existing live-stream website.

Chief Justice Loretta Rush says the Supreme Court is meeting remotely several times a week, and is regularly handing down orders and opinions.

10:35 p.m., May 3

Indiana BMV announces branch visits by appointment only

Some of Indiana’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles license branches will re-open with an appointment-only service format beginning Monday.

BMV Commissioner Peter L. Lacy announced on Friday that customers will be able to schedule an appointment for transactions which are not available online.

The BMV has modified its operations to ensure the safety of its employees and customers during the coronavirus pandemic.

To get more information on available transactions and to schedule a branch appointment, customers can go online. Customers with verified appointments will be required to check-in upon arrival.

Driving skills exams are not available from the BMV at this time.

3:42 p.m., May 1

IndyFringe Festival called off for 2020

The organizers of the annual IndyFringe Festival have canceled this year’s edition of the eclectic performing arts bonanza, which was scheduled for Aug. 13-23 using several downtown venues. 

 “The safety of our artists, staff, volunteers, and audience is our top priority as we navigate this difficult time, which is why the 2020 festival cannot move forward as planned,” according to an announcement on the event’s web site.

Although the decision to cancel this year’s fest was made several months before its opening date—meaning the event conceivably could have taken place after local restrictions on gatherings were lifted—IndyFringe officials didn’t think planning the event under current conditions would be feasible.

“The foundations of a Fringe are based fundamentally on people congregating months before the first performance, we could not in good conscious encourage people to begin rehearsing now,” said CEO Pauline Moffat. “Without rehearsals and the various community-building events we organize, the artistic and economic foundations of the festival are severely compromised.”

Founded in 2005, the 16-year-old festival typically features dozens of solo artists and performing groups, who stage hour-long pieces several times over the course of the event.

Some are locally based and others play the global circuit of similar festivals devoted to boundary-breaking work with unusual, satiric, outlandish and/or adult themes. Festival organizers pegged annual attendance at more than 20,000.

The festival had a record number of applicants for this year’s lineup—93—and those chosen will have reserved slots when the festival returns in 2021.

12:25 p.m., May 1

State reports surge in COVID-19 cases, testing

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 18,630, following the emergence of 795 more cases.

That’s the second highest number of new cases reported by the state in one day. The previous high was 949 on Monday, when cases surged because of a major outbreak in Cass County at a meat-processing plant.

The state reported 653 new cases on Thursday, 594 on Wednesday, 627 on Tuesday, 949 on Monday, 617 on Sunday and 715 on Saturday.

The state said Thursday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,062, up from 1,007 the previous day—an increase of 55.

About 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 73% of those who have died are older than 70.

The state reported that 99,639 people have been tested so far, up from 94,998 in Thursday’s report—an increase of 4,641 tests. That’s the highest number of new tests reported by the department in an daily report, exceeding the 4,369 tests on Wednesday.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

4:11 p.m., April 30

State gets 1,264 complaints about businesses violating stay-home order

The state has investigated nearly 1,264 complaints so far about businesses violating Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, the governor’s general counsel, Joe Heerens, said Thursday.

So far, those complaints have resulted in 115 verbal warnings and no written cease-and-desist orders, he said. Heerens, speaking at the governor’s daily news conference, said 1,130 complaints were found to have no merit.

Compared with Heeren’s last report, on April 20, complaints are up from roughly 1,000 and verbal warnings have increased from 74.

Earlier this month, Holcomb created the Enforcement Response Team, which is led by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to respond to complaints about businesses violating the order.

Any businesses not complying with the order is first issued a verbal warning, then the Indiana State Department of Health issues an order to cease the unsafe practice. If the business continues to be in violation, the health department can issue an order to close the business. If that occurs, the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office will be notified to suspend any relevant licenses and the issue will be sent to the local prosecutor for consideration.

3:49 p.m., April 30

Simon Cancer Center adds thermal imaging system at entrances

Patients and visitors to the Simon Cancer Center in Indianapolis now are required to step through a thermal imaging system at the entrances that measures body temperature as a step to help keep vulnerable patients safe from COVID-19.

Indiana University Health, which runs the cancer center along with partner Indiana University, said Thursday it also plans to add the screening at its Methodist and University hospitals in coming weeks.

The technology will not detect or diagnose any illness, but will help in identifying those who may need to take further precautions. Patients with elevated temperatures will be masked and escorted to their appointment or destination to ensure exposure is contained and the care team is aware of their temperature. No one will be turned away based on the screening, IU Health said.

“This is a real-time, more sanitary way to identify a person in a large group with an elevated temperature,” the hospital system said in a media advisory. It added that other hospitals throughout the system could also get the technology. The technology vendor is Intelligent Systems of Carmel.

12:15 p.m., April 30

State reports another big rise in COVID-19 cases

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 17,835, following the emergence of 653 more cases.

The state reported 594 cases on Wednesday, 627 on Tuesday, 949 on Monday, 617 on Sunday, 715 on Saturday and 641 on Friday..

The state said Thursday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 1,007, up from 964 the previous day—an increase of 43.

About 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 73% of those who have died are older than 70.

The state reported that 94,998 people have been tested so far, up from 91,550 in Monday’s report—an increase of 3,448 tests.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

3:45 p.m., April 29

Local firm offering self-pay COVID-19 testing without doctor’s order

Indianapolis-based Aria Diagnostics on Wednesday said it would begin offering self-pay COVID-19 testing to people who weren’t showing symptoms or didn’t have an order from a physician.

The company said individuals can schedule and pay for the drive-through tests online, and get test results through an email within 48 to 72 hours. The tests are priced at $175.

Aria’s new web portal also allows people to schedule doctor-ordered tests and pay for them with insurance.

The tests are being performed at Aria’s facility at 5635 W. 96th St.

“We are extremely excited to roll out our new self-pay, drive-thru testing because we truly believe that people are seeking the peace of mind that they aren’t carrying the corona virus that causes COVID-19,” said Zak Khan, co-founder of Aria Diagnostic Laboratories, in written remarks. “It is our driving mission and belief that, in order to beat this virus, we must test everyone.”

2:35 p.m., April 29

Hamilton County starts pandemic recovery task force

Hamilton County has formed a Workforce Recovery Task Force that will meet Wednesday for the first time to plan for local business recovery from the pandemic.
Eleven leaders from area chambers of commerce, education, county government, business and economic development groups will meet to create a plan for addressing the unemployment brought on by the spread of COVID-19 over the next nine months.
“The task force may also apply for grant dollars,” Carol Sergi, executive director of the Hamilton County Economic Development Corp., said in a written statement. “Those dollars could be used to cover the costs of training programs, potential job fairs, and supplies to help businesses reopen.”
According to a statement provided by the county, Hamilton County’s 21st Century Talent Region will assume the task force’s efforts by October.
12:25 p.m., April 29

49 local first responders return to work after COVID-19 recovery

Marion County officials announced this week that 49 first responders in Indianapolis who tested positive for COVID-19 have recovered and returned to work.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center’s latest numbers show 31 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, 28 Indianapolis Fire Department firefighters and eight Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Twenty-three of those firefighters, seven of the emergency medical employees and 19 of the police officers have recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional and returned to work.

Indianapolis first responders who test positive for COVID-19 are self-quarantined at home and monitored for any progression of symptoms. Those individuals return to work only after being cleared by a doctor.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers who serve in 78 beats across Indianapolis. IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters who serve neighborhoods from 43 fire stations. IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

12:20 p.m., April 29

Indiana deaths, testing reach highs in state’s daily COVID-19 report

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 17,182, following the emergence of 594 more cases.

Meanwhile, new deaths and tests were the highest reported by the state in its daily update.

The number of new cases was lowest in the state’s daily report since last Wednesday, when it reported 341 new cases.

The state reported 627 new cases on Tuesday, 949 on Monday, 617 on Sunday, 715 on Saturday, 641 on Friday and 601 on Thursday.

The state said Wednesday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 964, up from 901 the previous day—an increase of 63.

That’s the largest number of deaths reported in the state’s daily report since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous high was 61 on April 21.

About 91% of the total deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 72% of those who have died are older than 70.

The state reported that 91,550 people have been tested so far, up from 87,181 in Monday’s report—an increase of 4,369 tests.

The increase marked a daily high in reported tests. The previous high was 4,269 on April 19.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

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11:05 p.m., April 28

Indiana-based Escalade returns PPP loan

Evansville-based sporting goods manufacturer Escalade Inc., which was among the nation’s largest loan recipients under the Paycheck Protection Program, said late Tuesday afternoon that it has returned its $5.6 million loan.

The federal Paycheck Protection Program offers forgivable loans and was designed to keep small businesses afloat during the economic disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Small Business Administration, which is overseeing the program, defines a small business as one with 500 or fewer employees. But some larger PPP recipients were criticized for participating in the program, which ran out of its initial funding in 13 days. The SBA has put pressure on those companies to return the loans.

Escalade is a publicly traded company that makes sporting and recreational equipment. As of the end of last year, the company had 468 employees. The firm is relatively small compared to many public companies. It reported $180.5 million in revenue last year and $7.3 million in profit.

In a public filing, Tuesday afternoon, Escalade said it had repaid its PPP loan in full.

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12:25 p.m., April 28

State reports more than 600 new COVID-19 cases for sixth straight day

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 16,588, following the emergence of 627 more cases.

The new-case figure marks a decrease from Monday’s report, when a major outbreak of positive cases in Cass County boosted the daily count to a new high.

The state reported 949 new cases Monday, 617 cases on Sunday, 715 on Saturday, 641 on Friday, 601 on Thursday and 341 on Wednesday.

The state said Tuesday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 901, up from 844 the previous day—an increase of 57.

About 91% of the deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 72% of those who have died are older than 70.

The state reported that 87,181 people have been tested so far, up from 84,476 in Monday’s report—an increase of 2,705 tests.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

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11:35 a.m., April 28

IU Health faces huge backlog of elective, non-urgent procedures

Indiana University Health, the largest hospital system in the state, plans to resume elective and non-urgent procedures on Monday, and says it has a backlog of tens of thousands of cases to work through.

Dr. Jonathan E. Gottlieb, the system’s chief medical executive, said backlogged cases range from cataract extractions to major cancer surgeries.

“It’s not going to be business as usual,” he said. “We need to keep our patients and our staff safe. We don’t have a lot of experience with social distancing in the whole operative process. We are designing and implementing that right now.”

IU Health, which operates 16 hospitals, plans to start at about 25% of its normal elective surgery volume, and ramp up from there.

Gov. Eric Holcomb lifted the ban Monday on elective, non-urgent procedures, six weeks after instituting it to preserve personnel, hospital space and personal protective equipment for COVID-19 patients. Hospitals have been allowed to perform emergency medical procedures.

Several other hospital systems in central Indiana said this week they plan to resume non-emergency procedures in coming days. The procedures are often the biggest money-makers for hospitals.

Gottlieb said the challenge for IU Health will be to get equipment and medical personnel in the right place over the next few days and weeks, after making big shifts to handle the pandemic.

“We’ve moved personnel around,” he said. “So we have some folks who used to be in the operating room—nurses and technicians and therapists and anesthesiologists. Many of them are now deployed in inpatient settings, taking care of COVID patients. So we’ve got to figure all of that out, and take care of all of our patients.”

4:46 p.m., April 27

Indianapolis E-Learning Fund to release $1.5M to schools

The Indianapolis E-Learning Fund, which launched earlier this month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is releasing $1.5 million to public school districts and public charter schools across Marion County to be spent on crucial device and internet connectivity needs for students forced into remote learning.

A needs assessment conducted by the Office of Education Innovation in partnership with The Mind Trust found a lack of devices and internet access for students were the biggest barriers Marion County educators reported in successfully implementing e-learning. Educators who responded to the survey reported that more than 25% of students don’t have access to high-speed internet necessary to engage with e-learning. Tens of thousands of students lack laptops, tabled or mobile hotspots to make learning from home easier.

Funds will be allocated to districts and schools based on the size of their student population and state data showing how many students qualify for free and reduced-price lunch. Allocations will be distributed to districts directly. Charter school allocations will be administered by The Mind Trust. The remaining contributions in the fund will be directed toward longer-term investments and resources for schools engaging in e-learning and remote learning statewide.

“We know schools are working around the clock to ensure students have opportunities to learn during this difficult time, and we’re proud we can do something to help them in that effort,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in written comments.

4:30 p.m., April 27

Department of Correction reports 2nd death of guard from COVID-19

The Indiana Department of Correction said Monday that another prison guard has died of COVID-19.

The department earlier reported that 67-year-old Gary Weinke, who worked at the Wabash Valley Correctional Facility near the town of Carlisle in southwestern Indiana’s Sullivan County, died Saturday from COVID-19 complications.

A guard from the Indiana Women’s Prison in Indianapolis also died Saturday with a presumed coronavirus illness, agency spokesman David Bursten said. No other information about that guard was immediately released.

Four Indiana prison inmates have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus infections, according to prison system online statistics. Three of those deaths have been at the Plainfield Correctional Facility near Indianapolis and one at the Westville Correctional Facility in northwestern Indiana.

The Westville prison has nearly 170 confirmed COVID-19 infections among inmates and staffers, while the Plainfield prison has almost 100. That makes up a majority of the 431 reported cases as of Monday among the 23 prison system locations included in the agency’s report.

Prisons are regarded as a high risk for spreading the coronavirus because inmates are held in close quarters.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and other inmate advocates have pushed for the early release of some prisoners to lower prison populations. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has repeatedly said he doesn’t support such actions.

11:25 a.m., April 27

GM planning to hire 1,000 to make ventilators in Kokomo

General Motors Co. plans to hire more than 1,000 part-time and full-time workers to help make ventilators at its Kokomo plant during the pandemic, the company announced Monday.

Ivy Tech Community College said it would assist GM with the effort.

A virtual job fair is scheduled for 11 a.m. May 6 to help applicants learn more about the jobs. Registration information can be found here.

GM’s goal is produce 30,000 ventilators by the end of August.

Temporary manufacturing team member positions will offer a starting wage of $16.67. Part-timers, on average, will work between 16 to 32 hours per week.

The GM facility has been retrofitted to build Ventec ventilators for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support the global relief efforts under way in treating severely sick coronavirus patients. Production began on April 6.

Ivy Tech has been hosting GM employment webinars for students and community members and spreading the word about the job opportunities.

10:55 p.m., April 26

Department of Correction reports first death of guard to COVID-19

The Indiana Department of Correction on Sunday reported the first death of a state correctional officer from COVID-19.

Gary Weinke, 67, a correctional officer at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility, died Saturday, the department said.

Weinke’s last day of work was March 29. He later reported symptoms of the virus and tested positive for COVID-19.

Weinke began working at the Wabash Valley facility in 2007. His wife, Naomi Weinke, also is a correctional officer at the facility.

“Our condolences go out to his wife Naomi, his family, and his friends,” Acting Warden Frank Littlejohn said in written remarks. “He was a one-of-a-kind officer who touched the lives of many of those that he worked closest with. He will be truly missed.”

Through Sunday, according to the state, 129 IDOC staff members and 297 inmates had tested positive for COVID-19. Two inmates in Plainfield and one inmate in Westville had died from the virus.

12:15 p.m., April 26

Indiana’s death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 800

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 15,012, following the emergence of 617 more cases.

The count was down from those reported by the department the previous two days, when consecutive daily highs were reported.

The state reported 715 new cases on Saturday, 641 on Friday, 601 on Thursday, 341 on Wednesday, 411 on Tuesday and 476 on Monday.

The state said Sunday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 813, up from 785 the previous day—an increase of 28.

About 90% of the deaths involve those who are age 60 or older. About 71% of those who have died are older than 70.

The state reported that 81,708 people have been tested so far, up from 79,744 in Saturday’s report—an increase of 1,964 tests. That’s the lowest number of new tests reported in a daily report since April 14.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

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5:45 p.m., April 25

Gubernatorial candidate Myers tests negative for COVID-19

Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers said Saturday that his test for COVID-19 came back negative.

Meyers, who got tested Thursday at Aria Diagnostics in Indianapolis, once again called for the state to increase testing.

“I am happy to share the good news that I received my coronavirus test results today and am, fortunately, negative,” he said in a written statemewnt. “I now understand in a very personal way the anxiety thousands of Hoosiers feel every day waiting for their test results. But, testing is so important—both as a part of taking care of yourself and your family and for providing good public health information so we can actively target resources to fight the virus. We must do more as a state to ensure that any Hoosier that wants a test, gets a test.”

Myers, a former state health commissioner and Anthem Inc. executive, said he thinks the state should be conducting 10,000 tests per day to meet guidelines from national experts.

The state on Saturday reported that 79,744 people have been tested so far through Friday, up from 75,553 the previous day—an increase of 4,191 tests. That’s the highest number of new tests reported in a daily report by the Indiana State Health Department since April 19.

Myers said Thursday he decided to get tested after talking to his physician. He said he had symptoms of the coronavirus but wouldn’t specify which symptoms he’s experiencing.

12:05 p.m., April 25

State’s daily report hits second straight high mark for new COVID-19 cases

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 14,395, following the emergence of 715 more cases.

For the second straight day, the count was the highest number of new cases reported by the department in a daily report since the beginning of the pandemic.

The previous high was 641 on Friday.

The state reported 601 new cases on Thursday, 341 on Wednesday, 411 on Tuesday, 476 on Monday and 569 on Sunday.

The state said Saturday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 785, up from 741 the previous day—an increase of 44.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 79,744 people have been tested so far, up from 75,553 in Friday’s report—an increase of 4,191 tests. That’s the highest number of new tests reported in a daily report since April 19.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 4,727 cumulative cases—up from 4,537 the previous day, an increase of 190 cases.

The state reported 255 cumulative deaths in Marion County, up from 238 in Friday’s report. The state said 22,107 people have been tested in the county.

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3:25 p.m., April 24

Indiana reports 79 additional deaths from presumptive positive cases

Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box on Friday said 79 people have died in Indiana who were presumed to have COVID-19 but were not tested for the virus.

Box said those additional presumptive positive death cases do not show up in the state’s official death toll, which was updated to 741 on Friday.

Presumptive positive death cases are cases in which a doctor lists COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death for a patient but no positive test is documented.

The state said the cases have occurred since the beginning of the pandemic in March.

The state said a clinical diagnosis of COVID-19 can be made without a test by using an x-ray or CT scan of a patient’s chest and evaluating a full clinical picture.

The state said the presumptive positive cases would be placed in a separate statistical category and would not be added to the cumulative death total.

Box did not say whether the current death toll already included any presumptive cases.

12:15 p.m., April 24

State’s daily report hits new high mark for COVID-19 cases

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 13,680, following the emergence of 641 more cases.

The count is the highest number of new cases reported by the department in a daily report since the beginning of the pandemic.

The previous high was 612 on Friday, April 17.

The state reported 601 new cases on Thursday, 341 on Wednesday, 411 on Tuesday, 476 on Monday, 569 on Sunday and 487 on Saturday.

The state said Friday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 741, up from 706 the previous day—an increase of 35.

The department said this week it would now include presumptive positive deaths in its totals. Presumptive positive deaths are not necessarily verified by tests, but includes deaths in which a doctor listed COVID-19 as an underlying cause.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

4:45 p.m., April 23

Indiana’s neighbor extending stay-at-home order through May

Illinois Gov. Gov. JB Pritzker on Thursday announced that he was extending his stay-at-home order until the end of May, with some modifications.

The order had been set to end on April 30.

Among the major changes a new requirement that residents cover their faces in public spaces where social distancing is difficult. The mandate begins May 1 and applies to anyone over the age of 2 who is “able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.”

Illinois also plans to open state parks on a phased-in basis and lift restrictions on some non-essential businesses.

Illinois health officials on Thursday announced 1,826 new COVID-19 cases and 123 new deaths. In total, there are 36,934 COVID-19 cases in Illinois and 1,688 total deaths.

4:18 p.m., April 23

State gets $11.5M more in CARES funds for testing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention plans to distribute more than $11.5 million to Indiana to boost coronavirus testing and surveillance, U.S. Sen. Todd Young announced Thursday.

The funding is provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES, Act. Indiana has now received a total of $26.3 million from the CDC.

According to the CDC, this funding may be used for the following:

  • Establishing or enhancing the ability to aggressively identify cases, conduct contact tracing and follow up, as well as implement appropriate containment measures;
  • Improving morbidity and mortality surveillance;
  • Enhancing testing capacity;
  • Controlling COVID-19 in high-risk settings and protecting vulnerable or high-risk populations;
  • Working with healthcare systems to manage and monitor system capacity.

12:10 p.m., April 23

State reports highest number of COVID-19 cases since Friday

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 13,039, following the emergence of 601 more cases.

The daily count is the highest since 613 new cases were reported on Friday, April 17.

The state reported 341 new cases on Wednesday, 411 on Tuesday, 476 on Monday, 569 on Sunday and 487 on Saturday.

However, the department cautioned in a tweet Wednesday that “new cases/tests reported on Tuesday and Wednesday were lower than expected due to a technology issue and should not be interpreted as a decline in new infections.” The state said the issue has been resolved.

The state said Thursday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 706, up from 661 the previous day—an increase of 45.

The department said this week it would now include presumptive positive deaths in its totals. Presumptive positive deaths are not necessarily verified by tests, but includes deaths in which a doctor listed COVID-19 as an underlying cause.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 72,040 people have been tested so far, up from 69,470 in Wednesday’s report—an increase of 2,570 tests.

3:40 p.m., April 22

Indiana Bankers Association urges businesses to be ready to apply for PPP funds

The Indiana Bankers Association on Wednesday urged small businesses that would like to apply for funds from the second round of the Paycheck Protection Program to contact their banks now.

New legislation that passed the U.S. Senate on Tuesday and is expected to pass the House on Thursday is slated to inject $331 billion into the small-business payroll loan program that ran out of money last week.

The IBA said upcoming funds are anticipated to run out more quickly than initial funding, which was depleted within two weeks.

PPP loans are intended to help small businesses make payroll throughout the COVID-19 shutdown, preventing layoffs. The loans are forgivable if at least 75% of dollars received are applied toward payroll.

The first round of $350 billion in PPP funding, made available on April 3, was depleted by April 16.

Small businesses of up to 500 employees are advised to prepare now for the application process with assistance from their banks, the IBA said.

The IBA said the SBA is not permitting applications to be queued in the E-Tran application portal, but advance preparation can help ensure that businesses apply successfully once the portal reopens.

The second round of funding has new parameters that banks can help small businesses address, the IBA said.

During the initial funding phase of PPP funding, according to the SBA, 4,975 lenders nationwide completed applications for 1.66 million approved loans, totaling $342.3 billion.

Indiana banks assisted in completing 35,990 loans totaling nearly $7.5 billion in approved dollars.

12:20 p.m., April 22

State reports declining number of COVID-19 cases, 31 more deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 12,438, following the emergence of 341 more cases.

The daily count is the lowest since 291 new cases were reported on April 14. However, the department cautioned in a tweet later Wednesday that “new cases/tests reported today are lower than expected due to a technology issue and should not be interpreted as a decline in new infections.” The department reported a similar issue on Tuesday.

New reported cases were down from 411 on Tuesday, 476 on Monday, 569 on Sunday, 487 on Saturday and 613 on Friday.

The state said Wednesday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 661, up from 630 the previous day—an increase of 31.

The department said this week that death numbers would begin to increase because it was now reporting presumptive positive deaths in its totals. Presumptive positive deaths are not necessarily verified by tests, but include deaths in which a doctor listed COVID-19 as an underlying cause.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 69,470 people have been tested so far, up from 67,264 in Tuesday’s report—an increase of 2,206 tests.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

11:31 p.m., April 22

Pence to visit GM plant in Kokomo that’s making ventilators

Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Indiana next week to tour a General Motors plant in Kokomo.

GM began producing ventilators at the plant April 14 to help hospitals across the country respond to the surge in COVID-19 patients.

Pence, the former governor of Indiana, is scheduled to visit the facility on April 30.

GM recently signed a nearly $490 million contract with the federal government to produce 30,000 breathing machines. More than 600 ventilators are expected to be shipped from the Kokomo plant this month.

On Tuesday, Pence visited GE Healthcare in Madison, Wisconsin, to highlight the production of ventilators at that facility.

Pence hasn’t made a publicly disclosed visit to Indiana since mid-December, when he flew in for a private fundraising event for Gov. Eric Holcomb.

4:10 p.m., April 21

Indiana nursing home COVID-19 deaths rise to 162

Indiana nursing homes continue to feel the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, with 162 deaths recorded so far—a number that has risen 36% in just six days.

Those deaths took place at 74 long-term-care facilities around the state, Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said during Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press briefing on Tuesday. That represents about 18% of the 630 total deaths from the disease in Indiana reported so far.

However, Box declined when asked repeatedly whether the state would release the number of cases and deaths by facility.

“At this point, this is the extent to which we want to report data,” she said.

She did not say why the health department could not provide a more detailed breakdown, as several other states are doing. Indiana requires all long-term-care facilities to report any positive cases or deaths of residents or staff within 24 hours.

Altogether, Indiana has recorded 1,568 positive cases of COVID-19 at 199 long-term care facilities.

Last Wednesday, the state reported 119 deaths at 31 long-term care facilities.

12:30 p.m., April 21

State reports big rise in COVID-19 deaths after reporting change

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 12,097, following the emergence of 411 more cases.

It also reported 61 new deaths, the largest number of deaths reported by the department in a daily report since the beginning of the pandemic.

The daily count is the lowest since 291 new cases were reported on April 14.

New reported cases were down from 476 on Monday, 569 on Sunday, 487 on Saturday and 613 on Friday.

The department said reported cases were lower than expected in the latest report because of a technology glitch.

The state said Tuesday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 630, up from 569 the previous day—an increase of 61.

The department said Monday that death numbers would begin increasing because it would begin reporting presumptive positive deaths in its totals. Presumptive positive deaths are not necessarily verified by tests, but includes deaths in which a doctor listed COVID-19 as an underlying cause.

New positive cases, deaths and tests have occurred over a range of dates but were reported to the department in the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 67,264 people have been tested so far, up from 64,639 in Monday’s report—an increase of 2,625 tests.

The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

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Governor says stay-at-home protesters ‘not helping’

After more than 200 people protested Saturday against the stay-at-home order outside his residence, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said he understood the impatience with the restrictions imposed starting March 25 but that the state can’t “pull up short” in slowing the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Holcomb said since Indianapolis has more than one-third of the state’s confirmed illnesses, the protest by people largely not wearing masks or following distance precautions presented “almost a perfect petri dish for how this can spread.”

The governor said he respected the rights of protesters but worried about the message to health care workers treating COVID-19 patients and concerned about infecting their own families.

“When we add to that, almost in a flaunting way, it is not helping,” Holcomb said. “There’s nothing government can do to encourage people to care about their neighbors, folks that they may not know.”

Similar protests have happened around the country. About two dozen protesters gathered Monday afternoon outside the Statehouse, with one holding a sign saying “Open Indiana.”

4:52 p.m., April 20

Indiana ban on elective medical procedures could be lifted next week

Indiana hospitals and clinics could resume elective procedures as soon as next week if they have enough personal protective equipment so as not to detract from their ability to treat patients with COVID-19.

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order on Monday afternoon that said the state would re-evaluate whether to allow hospitals, surgery centers, abortion clinics, dermatology offices, dental facilities and plastic surgery centers to resume services at 11:59 p.m. Sunday, “as warranted by the circumstances.”

“If our supply of inventory [of personal protective equipment] holds up, we will open up these elective procedures and other medical and clinical practices around Indiana,” Holcomb said during a press briefing.

The move comes more than a month after Holcomb directed hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers on March 16 to cancel or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures to help the health care system to conserve resources and personnel necessary to handle the expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

The surge has been lighter than expected, Holcomb said, due to Hoosiers practicing social distancing.

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4:15 p.m., April 20

State receives nearly 1,000 complaints about businesses violating stay-home order

The state has investigated nearly 1,000 complaints over the past two weeks about businesses violating Gov. Eric Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, which requires most companies to close or offer curbside and delivery services only, the governor’s general counsel, Joe Heerens, said Monday.

But, so far, those complaints have only resulted in 74 verbal warnings.

Earlier this month, Holcomb created the Enforcement Response Team, which is led by the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, to respond to complaints about businesses violating the order.

Any businesses not complying with the order is first issued a verbal warning, then the Indiana State Department of Health issues an order to cease the unsafe practice. If the business continues to be in violation, the health department can issue an order to close the business. If that occurs, the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office will be notified to suspend any relevant licenses and the issue will be sent to the local prosecutor for consideration.

Heerens, speaking at the governor’s daily news conference, said no cease-and-desist letters have been sent, no orders to close have been issued and no referrals have been made to prosecutors.

Hoosiers have been ordered to “hunker down” since March 25, and restaurants, bars and nightclubs have been closed for in-person dining since March 16.

The number of verbal warnings Heerens shared during Monday’s press briefing is actually lower than the 80 that were previously shared. The governor’s office said the previous number was a “data error.”

12:35 p.m., April 20

Crowded 5th District town hall event rescheduled as online event

A town hall event featuring candidates for the heavily contested 5th Congessional District Republican primary scheduled for Monday night has been canceled due to the pandemic, but arrangements have been made for a virtual event May 11.

Indiana Town Halls and WFYI Productions plan to webcast a town hall using Zoom or Skype technology, allowing candidates to remain in their homes.

Candidates will be randomly assigned to one of three time slots: 6 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 9 p.m., so that the number of candidates for each session is limited to four or five each. Each session will last one hour and be recorded.

Recordings of sessions will be posted to the WFYI and Indiana Town Halls websites within one week following the live webcast.

Thirteen candidates are expected to participate: Kent Abernathy, Andrew Bales, Micah Beckwith, Carl Brizzi, Allen Davidson, Chuck Dietzen, Beth Henderson, Matthew Hook, Kelly Mitchell, Danny Niederberger, Mark Small, Victoria Spartz and Russell Stwalley.

12:02 p.m., April 20

State reports 476 more COVID-19 cases, seven additional deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday said the number of positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 11,686, following the emergence of 476 more cases.

New reported cases were down from 569 on Sunday, 487 on Saturday and 613 on Friday.

The state said Monday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 569, up from 562 the previous day—an increase of seven deaths.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported to the department immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 64,639 people have been tested so far, up from 61,142 in Sunday’s report—an increase of 3,497 tests.

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11:45 p.m., April 19

USA Track and Field announces layoffs, CEO pay cut

Indianapolis-based USA Track and Field has laid off seven people from its 65-person staff, and CEO Max Siegel is taking a 20% pay cut, to offset lost revenue due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The national governing body for track and field has been forced to cancel dozens of events, including the Olympic trials, which were scheduled for June. In 2016, trials produced about $5 million in revenue. They will be rescheduled to mesh with the Olympics, which have been delayed until 2021.

Sports Business Daily reported that all the cuts came in divisions that support the 8,000 live events the USATF sanctions each year.

Siegel, who has led the organization since 2012, made $1.14 million in 2017, according to USATF’s most recent public tax filing.

The track federation is one of several American national governing bodies feeling a squeeze. They are expected to combine to lose more than $121 million in revenue from February to June, according to a survey they filled out last month. USA Rugby has filed for bankruptcy and USA Cycling has been forced into layoffs.

12:12 p.m., April 19

State reports increase in COVID-19 cases as testing hits high mark

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 11,210, following the emergence of 569 more cases.

New reported cases were up from 487 on Saturday, but down from 613 on Friday.

The state said Sunday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 562, up from 545 the previous day—an increase of 17 deaths.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported to the department immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 61,142 people have been tested so far, up from 56,873 in Saturday’s report—an increase of 4,269 tests.

The increase in reported tests was the largest seen in a daily health department report since the beginning of the pandemic. The previous high was 4,174 on April 11.

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6:05 p.m., April 18

Hundreds of protesters demand Holcomb reopen economy

Hundreds of Hoosiers gathered outside Gov. Eric Holcomb’s home on Saturday afternoon to demand that the state be open for business now, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic—not next month, as he has suggested.

Indiana has been under a stay-at-home order since March 25, and on Friday Holcomb said he plans to issue a new executive order on Monday that extends the directive until May 1, with some restrictions starting to be eased.

Andy Lyons—who helped organize the protest through a Facebook group called “Protest Government Overreach! Indiana Governor’s mansion!”—said the gathering was about standing up for freedom. He described Holcomb as acting like “a tyrant.”

“His cure is going to end up being far, far worse than this virus is, because it’s going to hit every segment of the population,” Lyons said. “This has got to stop. It’s insanity.”

He estimated the protest attracted about 500 people. They lined the sidewalk outside the Governor’s Residence near Meridian and 46th streets and drove by in vehicles.

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12:11 p.m., April 18

State reports fewer new COVID-19 cases after 3 days of increases

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 10,641, following the emergence of 487 more cases.

New reported cases dropped in Saturday’s report after rising for the past three days. There were 613 new cases reported on Friday, 587 on Thursday, 428 on Wednesday and 291 on Tuesday.

The state said Saturday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 545, up from 519 the previous day—an increase of 26 deaths.

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4:15 p.m., April 17

Top physician at Community Health almost recovered

A top physician at Community Health Network and his wife are recovering from COVID-19.

Dr. Ram Yeleti, a cardiologist and chief physician executive at the Indianapolis-based hospital system said Friday he felt 90% recovered after spending more than two weeks in isolation at his home.

“I’m finally getting a little bit back to normal,” he said. “I still have a lingering cough.”

His wife, Indira, was admitted to an undisclosed hospital after coming down with muscle aches and pains and feeling nauseated. A chest X-ray showed that oxygen saturation to her lungs was “much lower than normal” and she was admitted to the intensive care unit. She has since been discharged but is still on oxygen.

He said he began to suspect he was ill after getting a sore throat a few weeks ago. He tested positive the next day and isolated himself in a bedroom at home. “It was miserable,” he said.

Yeleti, 53, made his remarks during a video chat with State Health Commissioner Kristina Box as part of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s daily press briefing. It was his first public appearance since March 16, when he appeared with Box and Holcomb at a Statehouse press conference to announce Indiana’s first death from the disease, a woman who died at Community Hospital East.

3:50 p.m., April 17

Franklin nursing home reports 10th death from COVID-19

Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community said Friday that three more residents have died this week after testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 10 since the beginning of the outbreak.

The latest patient was an 87-year-old woman who died at the hospital on Wednesday.

All the deaths have occurred since April 1.

The Franklin campus, 1070 W. Jefferson St., houses about 400 residents across all levels of care.

Otterbein officials said 61 residents have been tested at the facility, resulting in 28 positive COVID-19 cases.

Ten of those residents have recovered and two remain in the hospital. Six are isolated in the facility’s special COVID-19 unit.

None of the non-tested residents are showing symptoms, officials said.

Officials also said 118 employees or contractors at the facility have been tested, resulting in 20 positive tests (16 employees, four contractors).

All are isolated and recovering in their respective homes.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, more than one-quarter of all COVID-19 deaths in Indiana have been nursing home residents, even though those residents represent just about 7% of all cases in the state.

12:15 p.m., April 17

Athanaeum Foundation moves long-running annual festival online

The Athanaeum Foundation’s 107th annual St. Benno Fest fundraiser won’t be sidelined this year despite the pandemic. The event—which the foundation calls Indianapolis’ oldest and longest-running festival—is scheduled to take place Saturday via the web service Zoom.

From 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., the free event will showcase historical footage from previous years, music from the band Indy Polkamotion, a yodeling contest, and appearances by St. Benno and his goat, Herr Bock.

The event can be accessed at this link.

St. Benno Fest raises money for The Athanaeum Foundation, which oversees the facility’s programming and physical upkeep.

The Athanaeum, at 401 E. Michigan St. just off of Massachusetts Avenue, was built between 1893 and 1898 as a cultural center for Americans of German descent. Originally called Das Deutsche Haus, the building’s name changed to The Athanaeum in 1918 amidst anti-German sentiment during World War I.

Today, the building is home to a variety of tenants, including The Rathskeller German restaurant, a YMCA branch, cultural organizations and others. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2016.

12:15 p.m., April 17

Indiana reports rising number of COVID-19 cases for third straight day

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 10,154, following the emergence of 612 more cases.

The 612 new cases are the most the department has reported in its daily update since the beginning of the pandemic.

New reported cases have risen for the past three days, with 587 reported Thursday, 428 on Wednesday and 291 on Tuesday.

The state said Friday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 519, up from 477 the previous day—an increase of 42 deaths.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported to the department immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 54,785 people have been tested so far, up from 51,115 in Thursday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

4:23 p.m., April 16

Indiana lawmakers on Trump’s new task force

At least three Republican lawmakers from Indiana have been invited to serve on President Donald Trump’s bipartisan Congressional Economic Task Force.

Sen. Todd Young, Sen. Mike Braun and Rep. Susan Brooks were all named to the advisory group, which is expected to provide counsel to Trump “on the re-opening of America in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic,” Young said Thursday in a statement.

The task force, which includes dozens of members from both sides of the aisle, is different than the industry group Trump named earlier this week to help with the same task.

Trump began rolling out guidelines Thursday that outline a phased approach to restoring normal commerce and services, but only for places with strong testing and seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases.

4:21 p.m., April 16

Indianapolis among cities for Lyft pilot program

Ride-hailing company Lyft has launched a pilot program to deliver important items in 11 U.S. cities, including Indianapolis.

On Wednesday, Lyft launched Essential Deliveries, a program in which government entities, not-for-profit organizations, businesses and health care organizations can request on-demand delivery of items to those who need them during the pandemic.

The items, which will be delivered by Lyft drivers, could include meals, groceries, medical supplies, hygiene products and home necessities, Lyft said. Lyft drivers will be paid for the deliveries they make.

In addition to Indianapolis, Lyft is now offering the program in Atlanta; the Texas cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio; Orlando, Florida; Phoenix; San Francisco; San Diego; and Seattle. The company said it plans to expand the program to additional cities.

Organizations interested in using the program can apply here.

12:11 p.m., April 16

Indiana cases rise for second straight day

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 9,542 after the emergence of 587 more cases.

New reported cases have risen for the past two days, with 428 on Wednesday and 291 on Tuesday.

The state said Thursday that the cumulative death toll in the state rose to 477, up from 436 the previous day—an increase of 41 deaths.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported to the department immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state reported that 51,115 people have been tested so far, up from 48,396 in Wednesday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

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7:40 p.m., April 15

State to recruit ‘army’ of people to help with contact tracing

Indiana plans to recruit “an army” of people to help reach everyone in the state who might have been infected by COVID-19 in an effort to get them tested or into isolation.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday that the state will fund the effort if necessary.

State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said she is studying how to find enough people to conduct what is known as contact tracing, a public health technique for slowing the spread of a virus.

It’s a time-consuming, laborious process, but one that has worked in halting previous epidemics, including measles and Ebola.

Under contact tracing, all people who have tested positive are contacted to see who they were in close contact with, including family, friends or co-workers. Those people are then contacted and interviewed about their symptoms.

Box said Indiana has been using an unspecified number of volunteers, including students at various public health schools around the state, to begin the process. She is looking at various technologies, including phone apps and Google Maps, to help with the process.

“But as we go forward and want to open up more things and have more testing, especially when we start testing for immunity, we really and truly are going to need an army,” she said.

Holcomb said: “This will be a key part of our plan. That army—if we need to fund it, we will.”

7:35 p.m., April 15

At-home deaths rise as Hoosiers avoid going to hospital

An increased number of Hoosiers are dying at home, possibly because they fear going to a hospital and getting infected by the coronavirus, state officials said Wednesday.

“I think individuals have been very careful about not wanting to go to the hospital or go to the ER because they’re afraid of getting infected,” Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, said Wednesday. “I think also that they’re trying not to be a burden on the ER.”

She did not provide figures, but said she has noticed an unspecified increase in the number of people who are dying at home from things that “look like heart attacks and other problems.”

Dr. Michael Kaufmann, Indiana’s EMS medical director, said he has seen an increase in the number of fatal cardiac arrests and other out-of-hospital deaths. He said Hoosiers who need emergency treatment should call for it, and that many hospitals have plenty of capacity to treat emergencies.

“Folks are doing what they were told to do, and that’s to hunker down and stay home,” Kaufmann said. “But I want you to know the health care system and the EMS system are available and ready to respond should you need assistance.”

12:45 p.m., April 15

Salvation Army using Lucas Oil Stadium for packing food boxes

The Salvation Army said Wednesday that it is preparing to pack 10,000 boxes of food at Lucas Oil Stadium to help Indiana families in need during the pandemic.

With collaboration from the Midwest Food Bank and the stadium, the venue will be put to use as a food warehouse and food box packing center.

On Friday, volunteers from the food bank and the Salvation Army will work with Lucas Oil Stadium staff and Indiana National Guard members to fill and prepare for distribution the first of the 10,000 food boxes.

The boxes will be filled with shelf-stable items designed to supplement the pantries of families who are struggling due to COVID-19 shutdowns. The demand on food pantries across Indiana has grown with the rise in unemployment.

“For many of these families, this is the first time they’ve ever had to ask for help,” said Major Bob Webster, divisional commander for The Salvation Army Indiana Division, in written remarks. “We’re hearing from our Salvation Army units across the state that food is the No. 1 need in their community. Thanks to this great space at Lucas Oil and the bulk purchasing power of Midwest Food Bank, we are now set up to be the epicenter for food distribution to these Salvation Army food pantries and feeding programs throughout Indiana.”

12:15 p.m., April 15

Cases, deaths rise in Indiana’s daily report

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 8,955 after the emergence of 428 more cases.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state said Wednesday that the death toll in the state rose to 436, up from 387 the previous day, an increase of 49.

The numbers were higher than Tuesday’s figures, when 291 new cases and 37 more deaths were reported.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The state reported that 48,396 people have been tested so far, up from 46,017 in Tuesday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

4:13 p.m., April 14

Indiana small businesses starting to receive federal loans

U.S. Sen. Todd Young said Tuesday that the U.S. Small Business Administration has issued more than 23,500 loans totaling $5.98 billion so far in Indiana as part of the Paycheck Protection program.

The program, which offers businesses forgivable loans to help them retain workers and pay bills during the coronavirus pandemic, is part of the $2 trillion economic relief package the federal government recently approved.

Banks have been flooded with applications for the program, and the process has caused some frustration.

But Young said the program is “operating as expected and increasingly as I hoped.”

“In all fairness to the Small Business Administration, we didn’t give them a lot of time to staff up and prepare for the flurry of applications that would be coming in,” Young said. “They have been responsive; they’ve issued some more guidance, and as they do that we’ve seen more banks participating, more credit unions, more online banks, and we’ve seen a lot of small businesses getting much-needed assistance.”

3:58 p.m., April 14

Subaru extends plant shutdown for three more weeks

Subaru of Indiana Automotive on Tuesday announced that it has extended the shutdown of its Indiana plant by three weeks, until Friday, May 8, due “to ongoing challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, including declining market demand and supply chain issues.”

The company said it plans to resume production at the Lafayette plant on Monday, May 11. The shutdown previously had been scheduled to last through this Friday.

The plant has been closed since March 23. The company initially paid employees in full during the shutdown, but hourly production workers stopped receiving pay beginning Monday. Subaru is still providing benefits.

More than 6,000 people work at the facility, which produces about 410,000 vehicles each year, including the Ascent, Impreza, Legacy and Outback.

12:39 p.m., April 14

Community Health seeks COVID-19 plasma donors for possible treatment

Community Health Network on Tuesday announced it is working with Versiti Blood Center of Indiana to collect convalescent plasma from patients recovered from coronavirus infection.

Convalescent plasma, or CP, is plasma that has been obtained from people who have recovered from a disease and contains antibodies to the disease.

Health officials say preliminary evidence suggests CP from those who had COVID-19 could help current patients recover faster and easier.

Use of CP has been studied in outbreaks of respiratory infections, including the 2003 SARS epidemic, the 2009 H1N1 influenza virus pandemic, and the 2012 MERS-Co-V epidemic, and has appeared to be beneficial for the treatment of those diseases.

Versiti Blood Center of Indiana has been approved as a collection center for CCP, but it needs help identifying people who qualify for donation.

Criteria for those wishing to donate include:

– Documented positive COVID-19 test and 28 days since last symptom;

– Documented positive COVID-19 test and a negative COVID-19 test and 14 to 27 days since last symptom;

– COVID-19 diagnosis based on symptoms, but no documented COVID-19 test (may be eligible for CCP donation in near future).

More information about becoming a donor can be found at eCommunity.com.

12:25 p.m., April 14

State reports 291 more COVID-19 cases, 37 more deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 8,527 after the emergence of 291 more cases.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state said Tuesday that the death toll in the state rose to 387, up from 350 the previous day.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The state reported that 46,017 people have been tested so far, up from 44,539 in Sunday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 3,063 cases—up from 3,012 cases the previous day. The state reported 141 deaths in Marion County, up from 123 on Monday. The state said 15,046 people have been tested in the county.

4:22 p.m., April 13

State officials expect later peak in coronavirus cases than national model

State officials aren’t optimistic about the reliability of a leading national statistical model that says Indiana has already passed its peak for the COVID-19 outbreak.

Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Monday they expect the surge won’t peak here for at least another week or two, despite revised projections Friday from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington in Seattle that say Indiana’s peak for hospitalizations happened last Wednesday.

Holcomb and Box said they are basing their projection on Indiana-specific numbers and “facts on the ground.” In fact, they believe the surge will peak later, not earlier, than original projections.

“Our earlier modeling indicated that (the peak) could come as early as this week,” Box said. “As our social distancing measures and requirements have taken effect, it has really made a change in our models. We are now expecting that surge potential at the end of April, probably for Marion County first, based on their numbers, and then on other parts of the state in the first couple weeks of May.”

“I really do believe we haven’t seen the peak of that surge yet,” she said.

She said her department sits down every week with data engineers and public health professionals to study numerous models and try to reach the best conclusions, based on hospitalizations, ventilator usage, and reported cases and deaths.

“We’re still in the woods, but the good news is, we see the clearing ahead,” Holcomb said.

3:49 p.m., April 13

22 local first responders return to work after COVID-19 recovery

Marion County officials announced Monday that five more first responders in Indianapolis have tested positive for COVID-19 over six days, bringing the total to 53.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center latest numbers show 23 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, 23 Indianapolis Fire Department firefighters and seven Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Fourteen of those firefighters, five of the emergency medical employees and three of the police officers have recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional and returned to work.

Indianapolis first responders who test positive for COVID-19 are self-quarantined at home and monitored for any progression of symptoms. Those individuals return to work only after being cleared by a doctor.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers who serve in 78 beats across Indianapolis. IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters who serve neighborhoods from 43 fire stations. IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

3 p.m., April 13

Eli Lilly testing arthritis drug for COVID-19 treatment

Can a medicine approved for rheumatoid arthritis treat patients with COVID-19? Eli Lilly wants to find out.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker has entered into an agreement with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to study its popular drug baricitinib in a trial to investigate its safety and effectiveness for hospitalized patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

Baricitinib, also known under the brand name Olumiant, is approved in more than 65 countries as a treatment for adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. It has been used by more than 100,000 patients.

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12:30 p.m., April 13

State reports 308 more cases, 7 more deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 8,236 after the emergence of 308 more cases.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The state said Monday that the death toll in the state rose to 350, up from 343 the previous day.

Deaths and positive cases are not always reported immediately, which means the numbers can move inconsistently day to day.

The state reported that 44,539 people have been tested so far, up from 42,489 in Sunday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 3,012 cases—up from 2,887 cases the previous day. The state reported 123 deaths in Marion County, the same number as Sunday. The state said 15,482 people have been tested in the county.

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10:58 p.m., April 12

Hoosiers fostering dogs in record numbers during pandemic

In record numbers, central Indiana residents have been seeking time-tested unconditional companionship as they ride out the COVID-19 pandemic in their homes: dogs.

Shelters report large increases in the number of four-legged fosters since stay-at-home orders took effect—and while humans are advised to practice social distancing, dogs, well, they don’t know what that means.

“There’s nothing better than a cuddly pet at home when you are self-isolating,” said David Horth, CEO of the Humane Society of Indianapolis.

He said the short-term adoptions of pandemic pooches are mutually beneficial: They give the animals a respite from hectic and quickly crowding shelters and provide their humans comfort or a distraction in a stressful time.

It also helps that the shelters provide food and medication at a time residents are feeling economic hardship. The only sacrifice they ask from foster parents in return is love, pets and walks for their new friends.

“People don’t have a lot to do right now and the kids are all at home looking for something. So as terrible as things are, it’s a perfect fit,” said Rebecca Stevens, president of the Humane Society for Hamilton County. “We have found that people are really stepping up to give these animals a break.”

Stevens said 185 animals were being fostered last week, compared to a normal week when 75 would be. And the fostering process is a little different during the pandemic, with initial applications and training being conducted online instead of in person.

Though shelters have a steady base of repeat foster parents, officials said the majority of temporary adopters now are first-timers. The length of the stay depends entirely on the foster parent but Stevens said she hopes most can do at least a few weeks. Some of the parents are expected to permanently adopt the dogs, as well.

IndyHumane saw a spike to 400 foster pets last week from a normal of about 120 at this time of year, Horth said.

At Indianapolis Animal Care Services, the city’s shelter, 125 more animals than usual have been fostered. A spokeswoman said the shelter has been able to send some of its animals that aren’t being fostered or adopted to boarding facilities for the time being to prevent overcrowding.

The agencies report that traditional adoptions are down because their buildings are closed to the public and applications are being taken only by appointment, a slower and more cumbersome process than walk-in adoption. And the shelters are still accepting stray and unwanted pets, increasing the burden on them.

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10:12 p.m., April 12

IU trustees OK up to $1B in borrowing amid pandemic

Trustees at Indiana University have allowed school leaders to borrow up to $1 billion to counter a potential budget shortfall due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The trustees approved the request Friday.

University spokesman Chuck Carney said the university is in good fiscal shape, but the request offers peace of mind for the university to continue operations during difficult times.

“It allows us to borrow money as needed to maintain things on our campuses in the case of a shortfall that might come up,” Carney told The Herald-Times.

The university’s largest source of revenue is tuition. The school remains in operation during the pandemic, but has stopped in-person classes for the spring and summer.

The university has also closed on-campus housing, offering students who have already paid a pro-rated refund. Only students with extraordinary circumstances can stay.

10:05 a.m., April 12

Number of deaths in Indianapolis rises by five

The Indiana State Department of Health reported Sunday that Marion County has 2,887 COVID-19 cases—up from 2,742 the previous day. The state reported 123 deaths in Marion County, five more than Saturday. More than 15,000 people have been tested in the county.

The number of cases have grown in all of the region’s counties. Hamilton has had 478 positive cases; Johnson, 317; Hendricks, 315; Boone, 109; Hancock, 118; Madison, 254; Morgan, 101, and Shelby, 71.

Every Indiana county now has at least one case.

The state’s Sunday report said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 7,928 after the emergence of 493 more cases.

The state said Sunday that the death toll in the state rose to 343, up from 330 the previous day.

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11 a.m., April 11

Feds up funding for energy assistance

Low-income residents who are sheltering in place will get more money to stay comfortable as temperatures transition to summer heat.

The Trump administration released $37 million in home energy assistance funding that was replenished after being diverted to fight the coronavirus. And another $900 million for the federal program is included in the stimulus funding signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The $37 million released this week is enough to help about 75,000 low-income families this year, and the $900 million will be enough to help about 3 million families when the funding becomes available, said Mark Wolfe, of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association.

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10:45 a.m., April 11

RV manufacturer to restart northern Indiana plants in May

Iowa-based recreational vehicle manufacturer Winnebago Industries plans to begin reopening its northern Indiana plants in May after closing them in March amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Winnebago and other RV manufacturers temporarily idled their manufacturing plants last month after stay-at-home orders were issued in Indiana and other states where RVs are produced.

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10:30 a.m., April 11

State reports 11 more deaths in Marion County

Marion County reported 2,742 cases—up from 2,600 cases the previous day. The state reported 118 deaths in Marion County, 11 more than Friday. The state said 14,004 people have been tested in the county.

The number of cases have grown in all of the region’s counties. Hamilton has had 443 positive cases; Johnson, 287; Hendricks, 301; Boone, 103; Hancock, 112; Madison, 235; Morgan, 94, and Shelby, 68.

Only two of Indiana’s 92 counties have not reported cases: Benton and Pike.

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5:01 p.m., April 10

National Guard, St. Vincent practice patient transport processes

Indiana National Guard soldiers on Thursday conducted training rehearsals at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, along with medical professionals at the hospital.

The training included creating standard operating procedures using military resources for transporting stable patients requiring minimal care to nearby medical facilities.

The exercise began with a communication and transportation rehearsal along with patient preparation, Ascension St. Vincent said. Soldiers and medical personnel also practiced transferring patients from hospital beds to transport stretchers that were then loaded into the back of military and government vehicles. No actual patients were involved in the exercise.

“COVID-19 has definitely taught us new lessons. We have to be acutely aware of a potential surge, and we must have plans to accommodate that,” Jane Whinnery, vice president of trauma and emergency transportation services at Ascension St. Vincent, said in a statement.

3 p.m., April 10

Anderson nursing home deaths climb to 24

Twenty-four residents have died at an assisted-living facility in Anderson, Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced Friday—up from 11 just four days ago.

Box, speaking at the state’s daily press conference, said 16 of the Bethany Pointe Health Campus residents who died tested positive for COVID-19. The other eight who died showed the same symptoms.

Box announced April 6 that 11 residents had died and more than 20 people at the facility had tested positive, including three employees.

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12:36 p.m., April 10

Groups raising funds for jazz, blues musicians

The Indianapolis Jazz Foundation, the Penrod Society, Owl Music Group and The Jazz Kitchen have teamed up to create a coronavirus relief fund for local musicians.

The Indy Musicians Relief Fund will offer financial assistance to jazz and blues musicians who have lost income because their scheduled performances have been postponed or canceled.

As of midday Friday, the fund had already collected $53,579, surpassing its initial goal of $50,000.

The fund is soliciting contributions through a Gofundme page. Musicians seeking assistance can e-mail Valerie Phelps at [email protected]

11:59 a.m., April 10

2,600 cases, 107 deaths reported in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 6,907 after the emergence of 556 more cases.

The increase halted a two-day slowdown in new reported cases. The state reported 408 new cases Thursday, 436 new cases on Wednesday and 563 new cases on Tuesday.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The death toll in the state rose to 300, up from 245 the previous day. The 55 deaths were the most reported to date in the health department’s daily updates, up from 42 on Thursday.

The department reported that 35,040 people have been tested so far, up from 32,133 in Thursday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 2,600 cases—up from 2,415 cases the previous day—with 107 deaths. The state said 12,185 people have been tested in the county.

Counties in the Indianapolis area have reported at least 63 cases each: Hamilton (431), Johnson (270), Hendricks (287), Boone (90), Hancock (109), Madison (204), Morgan (89) and Shelby (63).

Only two of Indiana’s 92 counties have not reported cases: Benton and Pike.

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

As of Friday morning, 466,396 cases had been reported in the United States, with 16,703 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than 26,500 people have recovered.

Nearly 1.62 million cases have been reported globally, with 97,039 deaths. More than 365,100 people have recovered.

10:30 p.m., April 9

Governor urges churches to stay closed amid pandemic

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday urged Indiana churches, synagogues and other faith venues to remain closed and adhere to social distancing guidelines during services and observances for Passover and Easter to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Get the word and get home,” Holcomb told reporters during a daily update on Indiana’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. “This is about worship, and we can follow the rules.”

Holcomb has issued a stay-at-home order for all but essential workers. He also has said Indiana residents should follow social distancing guidelines, something that’s difficult during typical religious services.

Services should be held online, and any staff or volunteers present who are not speaking should wear masks over their noses and mouths, according to guidance from Holcomb’s office.

For churches holding drive-up services, people should remain in their vehicles and have no physical interaction with others.

“Communion should be brought from your own homes,” said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana health commissioner. “Please don’t pass things out.”

The week leading up to Easter is considered the holiest time of year for many Christians, leaving churches to wrestle with how to hold services amid the coronavirus outbreak. In some cases, the situation has set up showdowns with local governments over restrictions that forbid large gatherings.

Many churches are offering parishioners live-streaming options so they can observe Good Friday and Easter on TVs, smartphones and computers. Others are holding services at drive-in movie theaters.

4:58 p.m., April 9

DWD expects extra $600 to start showing up April 20

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said it is continuing to receive a “high volume” of calls from people trying to make unemployment claims during the pandemic.

DWD Commissioner Fred Payne, speaking during Thursday’s daily state press conference, said his department has issued 175,195 unemployment payments already this month compared to 71,000 during the entire month of April 2019.

The state received 133,639 initial unemployment claims for the week ended April 4 on top of 139,174 the previous week. The state received fewer than 2,600 claims just three weeks ago.

Payne said the DWD has been slowed by some technology difficulties and is now working with a new contractor to process claims.

Regulations outlined in the recent $2 trillion economic relief package passed by Congress and signed into law by President Donald Trump expanded unemployment insurance coverage to include independent contractors, freelancers and gig economy workers, like Uber or Lyft drivers, and increased the benefits by $600 per week.

Payne said the extra $600 payment should begin showing up as early as April 20, retroactive to March 29.

He said anybody whose job fell under the expanded coverage will continue to be denied because the state system still hasn’t been updated to reflect the change.

But Payne said as soon as the state receives guidelines from the federal government on how to administer the new regulations, that will be fixed. And those individuals who were denied will not have to apply again, because the system is putting those claims in a holding position.

12:25 p.m., April 9

Lilly to begin testing people without virus symptoms

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, Eli Lilly and Co. is looking for people without symptoms in the Indianapolis area it can track to better understand the disease. The goal is to determine the local prevalence of the virus.

Participants much be 18 or older and reside in Marion County or one of the surrounding counties. People who are chosen will undergo a one-time test for COVID-19 at Lilly’s drive-thru testing facility south of downtown.

The Indianapolis-based drug maker said the following types of people are ineligible to participate: those who have tested positive for the disease, are awaiting a test result, or have experienced symptoms within the past seven days, such as fever, new or worsening cough, or new or worsening shortness of breath.

“The importance of asymptomatic carriers as transmitters for viral spread remains uncertain,” Lilly said in a written statement. “As a first step toward understanding this better, this study will track the prevalence of asymptomatic infection in the Indianapolis area over time. Lilly hopes these data will inform future public health measures to help combat this pandemic.”

Individuals interested in participating in this research study should visit https://www.info.lillycovid19testing.com for eligibility and enrollment information.

12:24 p.m., April 9

New fund raising money to help hospitality workers

The Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association has launched a new relief fund that will provide one-time payments of $500 to Indiana hospitality workers who have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Applicants must be age 18 or older and have worked in the hospitality industry in Indiana on a full-time or part-time basis for at least 90 days within the past year.

To help raise money for the effort, WISH-TV is hosting a fundraiser and auction called Hoosiers Helping Hoosiers. Through 11:30 p.m. Friday, participants can bid on a handful of auction items including sports memorabilia from local teams and a VIP dinner for six at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.

The fund had raised $22,965 as of late Thursday morning from a mix of auction proceeds and direct donations.

To bid on auction items, visit WISH-TV’s auction page. To make cash donations, or to apply for relief, visit www.inrlarelief.com.

The hospitality industry has been hit especially hard by layoffs caused by the coronavirus pandemic—a statewide prohibition on dine-in restaurant service went into effect in mid-March, and hotel occupancy rates have plunged.

According to the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association, between 49,000 and 109,000 of the state’s hospitality workforce, or up to 37% of the industry’s employees, could lose their jobs by the end of this year because of the pandemic.

12:22 p.m., April 9

New program to help Shelbyville businesses apply for relief

The Blue River Community Foundation in Shelbyville and three other local groups have launched a program to help local small businesses and not-for-profits apply for federal coronavirus relief.

The foundation is providing up to $10,000 for local attorneys to help applicants apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

The Shelby County Development Corp. is administering the program, and Mainstreet Shelbyville and the Shelby County Chamber of Commerce are assisting with planning and outreach efforts.

Brian Asher, executive director of the Shelby County Development Corp., said this is phase 1 of the effort. If funding allows, it will expand to offer application assistance for the Paycheck Protection Program, which is a forgivable loan program that also ispart of the CARES Act.

Eligible applicants must be locally owned, independent Shelby County businesses with a brick-and-mortar presence and fewer than 35 employees. Eligible not-for-profit organizations must be based in Shelby County.

Shelbyville attorneys from the firms of Brown DePrez & Johnson, McNeely Law, and Stephenson Rife will be the participating attorneys.

Interested parties should contact one of these three law firms directly, Asher said.

11:45 a.m., April 9

White Foundation donates $1M to Indy Chamber fund

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation on Thursday announced it will contribute $1 million to the Indy Chamber’s Rapid Response Loan Fund for emergency financial assistance to small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the commitment from the foundation, the fund has raised $4.7 million toward its $10 million goal since being announced late last month.

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation, based in Northwest Indiana, honors the legacy of late hotelier and billionaire Dean White, whose firm developed Indianapolis’ JW Mariott and owns other downtown hotels. White had net worth of $2.5 billion when he died in 2016.

To date, Indy Chamber said it has received more than 600 loan inquiries and more than 20,000 visits to its website regarding the fund.

The Dean and Barbara White Family Foundation joins Anthem, the City of Indianapolis, the Capital Improvement Board, the Indianapolis Bond Bank, the Indy Chamber and LISC Indianapolis in contributions to the Rapid Response Loan.

10:11 a.m., April 9

Indiana reports slowdown in emerging COVID-19 cases for second straight day

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 6,351 after the emergence of 408 more cases.

The increase in cases fell for the second straight day, after 436 new cases were reported on Wednesday and 563 were reported the previous day.

The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The death toll in the state rose to 245, up from 203 the previous day. The 42 deaths were the most reported to date in the health department’s daily updates.

The department reported that 32,133 people have been tested so far, up from 30,869 in Wedneday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 2,415 cases—up from 2,290 cases the previous day—with 81 deaths. The state said 11,356 people have been tested in the county.

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7 a.m., April 9

Privacy policies on positive cases spur tensions over transparency

Hoosiers looking for localized information about the spread of the novel coronavirus are hitting roadblocks put up by epidemiologists, county and state officials and federal regulations.

For example, the Hamilton County’s Health Department, like most health departments across the state, cites individual patient privacy as the primary reason why some pandemic data—such as the number of positive cases per city—isn’t publicly disclosed.

“The people that need to know this information are getting it through dispatch. Beyond that, it doesn’t affect the vector of transmission for coronavirus,” said Charles Harris, Hamilton County’s health officer.

Not everyone agrees such information should be kept under wraps.

“It’s not just morbid curiosity; it’s absolutely critical to understanding how exposed I am to the threat,” said Al Tompkins senior faculty member at The Poynter Institute, a not-for-profit journalism school and research organization in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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7 a.m., April 9

Carry-out not cutting it for many local restaurants

Some local restaurants trying to stay afloat without dine-in service report sales have plunged by two-thirds or more, raising questions about how much longer they’ll be able to survive.

“Yesterday, we had two orders. The day before, we had one order,” Elizabeth Villegas told IBJ April 3. Her husband, Valence Villegas, owns Peruvian restaurant Don Juan V’s Sandwiches on East Raymond Street just west of South Sherman Drive.

“Our sales have dropped about 75% this past week,” Villegas said. “I might even say 85%.”

It’s a similar refrain across central Indiana, as restaurateurs cope with orders issued by Gov. Eric Holcomb and Mayor Joe Hogsett on March 16 to impede the spread of COVID-19 by halting dine-in service. The state order runs through April 20, and the city order continues until May 1.

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5:24 p.m., April 8

Eiteljorg postpones all events in June

The Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art has canceled a series of events it had planned for June with the goal of rescheduling.

It postponed its Juneteenth Community Celebration that had been set for June 6, the Eiteljorg Indian Market and Festival originally planned for June 27-28, and the free concerts set for Wednesday evenings in June.

“Postponing the Eiteljorg’s important and popular public programming was a painful decision,” said CEO John Vanausdall.

But he said the museum had to put the safety of visitors, artists, volunteers and employees first, which meant postponing events that are scheduled beyond the current restrictions, the most stringent of which lasts until the end of April.

“It is unknown whether city and state restrictions on large public gatherings—necessary as they are—can be lifted in time to conduct these events as planned,” Vanausdall said. “So taking them off the June calendar was the most responsible option.”

1:15 p.m., April 8

State authorizes food trucks at rest areas

The Indiana Department of Transportation is offering temporary permits for licensed food trucks to operate at rest areas along the interstate.

The department, which announced the new program Wednesday, said it’s a way to provide commercial truck drivers and other travelers food and beverage options because truck drivers have been reporting a lack of available options due to restaurants and other businesses closing.

INDOT will issue two permits to food trucks to operate from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day on a first-come, first-serve basis. The food trucks will be allowed to do business at 28 different rest areas along Interstate 69, Interstate 70, Interstate 65, Interstate 74, Interstate 64 and Interstate 94.

More information on the program can be found at https://www.in.gov/indot/restareas.htm.

10:40 a.m., April 8

500 Festival reschedules events to coincide with new Indy 500 date

As Indy 500 officials motor ahead with plans to stage the race on Aug. 23, the organizers of many of the accompanying events considered part of the 500 Festival—including the IPL 500 Festival Parade—have solidified new dates as well.

The coronavirus pandemic forced IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway officials to rescheduled the May race—a move unprecedented in the event’s 100-plus-year history. Organizers with the 500 Festival added the caveat that a lot can change between now and August.

The rescheduled events include:

500 Festival Kickoff: Friday, Aug. 7

Salesforce & JPMorgan Chase 500 Festival Kids’ Day and Rookie Run: Saturday, Aug. 8

500 Festival Breakfast at the Brickyard: Saturday, Aug. 15

500 Festival Volunteer Appreciation Day: Saturday, Aug. 15

500 Festival Memorial Service: Friday, Aug. 21

500 Festival Off the Grid, presented: Friday, Aug. 21

IPL 500 Festival Parade: Saturday, Aug. 22

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10:04 a.m., April 8

COVID-19 deaths in Indiana rise to 203 as cases swell to nearly 6,000

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 5,943 after the emergence of 436 more cases.

The increase in cases was lower than the highest rise in cases for the coronavirus crisis that was reported Tuesday, when the total increased by 563. The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The death toll in the state rose to 203, up from 173 the previous day.

The department reported that 30,869 people have been tested so far, up from 28,764 in Tuesday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 2,290 cases—up from 2,141 cases from the previous day—with 58 deaths. The state said 10,963 people have been tested in the county.

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9:37 a.m., April 8

Symphony puts musicians on unpaid furlough, lays off half of staff

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which has canceled performances through May 27 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, announced Tuesday that it has put its musicians and stagehands on furlough and laid off nearly half of its administrative staff.

The ISO said it made the moves last week “in an unprecedented step to protect its long-term viability.”

The organization has 72 musicians and 54 full-time employees.

The furloughs are unpaid, the ISO said, but the employees will continue to receive health care coverage through May.

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4:15 p.m., April 7

Coronavirus confirmed in 48 first-responders in Indianapolis

Marion County officials announced Tuesday that 11 more first-responders in Indianapolis have tested positive for COVID-19 over the past four days, bringing the total to 48.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center latest numbers show 20 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, 21 Indianapolis Fire Department firefighters and seven Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Five of those firefighters, two of the emergency medical employees and one of the police officers have recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional and returned to work.

Indianapolis first responders who test positive for COVID-19 are self-quarantined at home and monitored for any progression of symptoms. Those individuals return to work only after being medically cleared by a doctor.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers who serve in 78 beats across Indianapolis. IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters who serve neighborhoods from 43 fire stations. IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

11:43 a.m., April 7

COVID-19 community relief fund awards additional $4.55M in grants

The Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund on Tuesday said it made unrestricted grants totaling $4.55 million to 32 community organizations in Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties.

Combined with a first round of grants made March 24, the fund has distributed more than $11.8 million to 74 organizations in central Indiana to date.

C-CERF is an economic relief fund launched with initial investments from founding partners Lilly Endowment Inc., Central Indiana Community Foundation (through the Glick Fund and The Indianapolis Foundation), Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust, Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, and United Way of Central Indiana.

The fund has grown to more than $22 million after receiving additional donations from the public.

The latest round of grants went to the following groups:

  • Arc of Greater Boone County – $30,000
  • Bosma Enterprises – $100,000
  • Boys and Girls Club of Boone County – $20,000
  • Children’s Bureau – $300,000
  • DAMAR Services – $200,000
  • Damien Center – $100,000
  • Dove Recovery Center- $50,000
  • Easterseals Crossroads – $100,000
  • Exodus Refugee – $100,000
  • Families First Indiana, Inc. – $250,000
  • Foster Success – $50,000
  • Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana – $750,000
  • Good Samaritan Network of Hamilton County – $50,000
  • Groundwork Indy – $15,000
  • Hancock County Food Pantry – $15,000
  • Hendricks County Food Pantry Coalition – $15,000
  • Indiana Youth Group – $50,000
  • Janus Developmental Services – $20,000
  • Kheprw Institute – $75,000
  • Lutheran Child and Family Services – $150,000
  • Midwest Food Bank – $500,000
  • New Hope of Indiana – $200,000
  • Noble – $100,000
  • Outreach – $50,000
  • Progress House – $50,000
  • Reach for Youth – $50,000
  • Second Helpings – $750,000
  • Sycamore Rehabilitation Services Hendricks County – $50,000
  • Tangram – $200,000
  • The Villages – $100,000
  • Visually Impaired Preschool Services Indiana – $25,000
  • Wellspring – $35,000.

10:03 a.m., April 7

Cases in Indiana grow to more than 5,500, deaths to 173

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 5,507 after the emergence of 563 more cases.

The daily increase is the largest the state has reported so far during the outbreak. The previous daily high was on Monday, when the total increased by 533. The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The death toll in the state rose to 173, up from 139 the previous day.

The department reported that 28,764 people have been tested so far, up from 26,191 in Monday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 2,141 cases—up from 1,956 cases from the previous day—with 48 deaths. The state said 10,234 people have been tested in the county.

Counties in the Indianapolis area have reported at least 37 cases each: Hamilton (363), Johnson (212), Hendricks (225), Boone (74), Hancock (89), Madison (137), Morgan (79) and Shelby (51).

Only three of Indiana’s 92 counties have not reported cases: Benton, Perry and Pike.

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

As of Tuesday morning, 368,449 cases had been reported in the United States, with 10,993 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than 19,900 people have recovered.

More than 1.36 million cases have been reported globally, with 76,373 deaths. More than 292,185 people have recovered.

11:21 p.m., April 6

Republic Airways seeks federal aid to keep employees working

Indianapolis-based Republic Airways on Friday submitted an application for emergency federal grant funding that would enable it to keep paying employees through Sept. 30.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act passed by Congress on March 26, $25 billion in grants is available to passenger airlines that agree to not furlough employees or cut their pay rates through Sept. 30. The funding is designed to keep the airline industry, which is in crisis as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions, afloat.

Without the grant funding, Republic won’t be able to continue employing all 6,700 of its employees through the summer, Republic Chief Administrative Officer Matt Koscal told IBJ on Monday.

“Those dollars are critical,” Koscal said. “Absent those dollars, we absolutely would not be able to maintain our associates even through some mitigation efforts through the summer flying season. We would have to make some immediate very difficult decisions.”

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5:12 p.m., April 6

State says it has enough PPE to last 13 days

Indiana has received enough masks, gowns, gloves and other personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile to last another 13 days, state officials said Monday.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box urged local manufacturers to help keep supplies up by producing additional protective gear for the state’s hospitals and nursing homes.

“If your business has the ability to make these products, then fire up the lines because we’re ready for it,” she said, outlining the state’s preparations to fight the surge of COVID-19 patients.

Indiana received its third and final shipment from the federal government last week, and already has dispersed about 80% of it to hospitals, emergency responders, nursing homes and local health departments.

But that doesn’t mean hospitals will completely run out of equipment in two weeks, Box said. Many hospitals and nursing homes are continuing to receive supplies from their vendors, though some report that quantities in those deliveries are decreasing.

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12:36 p.m., April 6

Marion County reports 196 more cases of COVID-19

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 4,944 after the emergence of 533 more cases.

The daily increase is the largest the state has reported so far during the outbreak. The department reported the state’s first case on March 6.

The death toll in the state rose to 139, up from 127 the previous day.

The department reported that 26,191 people have been tested so far, up from 22,652 in Sunday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 1,956 cases—up from 1,760 cases from the previous day—with 41 deaths. The state said 9,503 people have been tested in the county.

Counties in the Indianapolis area have reported at least 37 cases each: Hamilton (335), Johnson (195), Hendricks (196), Boone (64), Hancock (72), Madison (101), Morgan (76) and Shelby (45).

Only two of Indiana’s 92 counties have not reported cases.

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

As of Monday morning, 337,971 cases had been reported in the United States, with 9,654 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than 17,500 people have recovered.

Nearly 1.29 million cases have been reported globally, with 70,590 deaths. More than 270,200 people have recovered.

8:58 a.m., April 6

Riley Children’s Foundation launches assistance fund

The Riley Children’s Foundation is seeking donations toward a new fund that will provide emergency assistance to families of hospitalized children facing additional financial struggles during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Riley Relief Fund will also provide support for the Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis during the ongoing public heath emergency, foundation officials said.

Foundation President Elizabeth Elkas said the virus outbreak is pushing many families further into crisis while they are caring for children with complex medical needs.

The first $100,000 donated are being matched by a donation from car dealership owner Bob Butler and his family, the foundation said. Donations can be made at the foundation’s website.

The new relief fund is meant to provide families with emergency assistance for housing, utilities, transportation, medications, food and other necessities.

10:40 p.m., April 5

Nursing home firm’s patient-relocation plan spurs controversy

A Fishers-based operator of nursing homes plans to relocate residents of one of its facilities in southwest Indiana to other sites and designate the vacated 140-bed facility for COVID-19 patients only—a move that is meeting resistance from some public officials and family members.

Chosen Healthcare LLC sent a letter Sunday to family members of residents at Washington Nursing Center in Daviess County, about 115 miles southwest of Indianapolis.

“On April 6, we will relocate residents from Washington Nursing Center to other Chosen facilities in our network as we designate Washington Nursing Center as a COVID-care facility,” the letter said. “This move, while inconvenient, is being made with the safety of residents as a top priority, enabling us to drastically and meaningfully reduce risk of exposure to all, by caring for anyone who may test positive in a single isolated location.”

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11 a.m., April 5

State death toll rises to 127 as cases climb to 4,411

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 4,411 after the emergence of 458 more cases.

The death toll in the state jumped to 127, up from 116 the previous day.

The department reported that 22,652 people have been tested so far, up from 19,800 in Saturday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The first COVID-19 case in Indiana was reported March 6.

Marion County reported 1,760 cases—up from 1,570 cases from the previous day—with 37 deaths. The state said 8,496 people have been tested in the county.

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2:50 p.m., April 4

Cummins to suspend production at southern Indiana plants

Columbus-based engine-maker Cummins Inc. plans to temporarily close its southern Indiana manufacturing sites beginning next week because of coronavirus-related business disruptions, the company said Saturday.

The move affects three facilities in Columbus and one in Seymour, Cummins spokesman Jon Mills told IBJ.

Affected employees will not be paid during the shutdown but they will retain their medical, dental and life insurance benefits for up to 90 days, Mills said.

Mills said Cummins plans to reopen the facilities May 4, or sooner if market demand permits.

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10:13 a.m., April 4

Indiana death toll from COVID-19 hits 116 as statewide cases swell to 3,953

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 3,953 after the emergence of 516 more cases.

The death toll in the state jumped to 116, up from 102 the previous day.

The department reported that 19,800 people have been tested so far, up from 17,835 in Friday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The first COVID-19 case in Indiana was reported March 16.

Marion County reported 1,570 cases—up 141 cases from the previous day—with 34 deaths. The state said 7,568 people have been tested in the county.

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12:14 p.m., April 3

Coronavirus confirmed in 37 first-responders in Indianapolis

Marion County officials announced Friday that 37 first-responders in Indianapolis have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Marion County Emergency Operations Center said 17 Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers, 14 Indianapolis Fire Department firefighters and six Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services employees have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Two of those firefighters and two of the emergency medical employees have recovered from the virus, been cleared by a medical professional and returned to work.

Indianapolis first responders who test positive for COVID-19 are self-quarantined at home and monitored for any progression of symptoms. Those individuals will return to work only after being medically cleared by a doctor.

IMPD has more than 1,600 police officers who serve in 78 beats across Indianapolis. IFD is made up of more than 1,200 firefighters who serve neighborhoods from 43 fire stations. IEMS’ workforce is made up of more than 350 EMTs and paramedics.

11:59 a.m., April 3

State officials offer guidance on releasing inmates

Top officials from all three branches of Indiana government issued guidance Friday on how county jails should determine whether to release incarcerated individuals in an attempt to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Correctional facilities are considered potential hot spots for COVID-19 because of the high number of individuals in close proximity to each other and the high-risk categories some inmates fall into.

In a letter, Gov. Eric Holcomb, Chief Justice Loretta Rush, House Speaker Todd Huston and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said local judges, sheriffs and county leaders should be evaluating whether to release low-risk, non-violent offenders “in a responsible and humane manner.”

Local officials should review the current jail population and identify inmates who would be considered low-risk and non-violent and whether they could be released safely into the community under pre-trial, probation or community corrections supervision, the letter said.

“This is not a question of being soft on crime or criminals, but rather it’s a matter of need in a time of a widespread public health emergency affecting our entire state, at the local level,” the letter said.

State leaders say “no Indiana-size solution would fit all,” so that is why they are allowing local officials to make the decisions.

State correctional facilities are not releasing inmates early, though. The letter says those facilities have been able to take “aggressive proactive measures” to prevent the spread of the disease.

11:50 a.m., April 3

IU Health expands testing to any health care worker, first responders

Indiana University Health, the state’s largest hospital system, said Friday it is expanding testing for the novel coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, to any health care worker or first responder in Indiana who might have been exposed to the virus. The testing is opening to workers at any hospital, not just the 16 hospitals owned by IU Health.

All tests have to be ordered by a physician. The specimen collection will take place at whatever hospital the health care worker or first responder is working at or can get to.

Under the plan, the hospitals will send the specimens to IU Health’s pathology laboratory in Indianapolis for analysis and results.

Many Indiana hospitals and health care facilities—particularly in rural areas of the state—have limited or no testing capabilities and are experiencing long turnaround times from national labs, IU Health said.

“Our mission calls us to improve the health of every Hoosier, not just those who come to an IU Health facility for care,” said Dennis Murphy, president and CEO, in written remarks. “We will get through this crisis by working together, and I’m proud of our laboratory teams who are making testing available for those who need it most.”

As of Friday morning, the IU Health Pathology Laboratory had conducted more 5,000 COVID-19 tests with the goal of increasing capacity each week.

7 a.m., April 3

Bottleworks, justice campus moving forward, with precautions

Construction at the city’s Criminal Justice Campus, the Bottleworks District on Massachusetts Avenue and other big projects is progressing, despite the coronavirus pandemic that has halted much of the rest of the economy.

But some projects across the city and state are on hold, as developers assess not only their financial footing and priorities but also the safety of the workers on site.

The decisions about construction are up to developers and construction firms, as the industry is exempt from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s orders that non-essential businesses close and Hoosiers stay home, except for essential trips such as getting food or medicine.

Projects moving forward have stringent cleaning, social distancing and illness-reporting protocols in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

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11:28 p.m., April 2

Art organization ceasing operations, calls COVID-19 final straw

After facing a passel of challenges since its founding 19 years ago, a local arts organization dedicated to contemporary work has finally met an obstacle it couldn’t overcome.

Indianapolis Contemporary—known as the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art up until 11 months ago—announced Thursday that it was calling it quits after an internal review “determined it was not economically feasible to continue operations.”

The COVID-19 pandemic was cited as the final straw.

The museum hasn’t had a permanent home since late 2016, when it closed its storefront space at 1043 Virginia Ave. in the Murphy Arts Center building, where it had been based since 2009. It vacated the space to make way for an expansion of the neighboring Hi-Fi music venue.

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10:05 p.m., April 2

School closings also end Indiana’s spring sports

Spring sports in Indiana schools were canceled Thursday after officials said schools would remain closed because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The Indiana High School Athletic Association said it supported the decision to close schools and urged residents to follow safety guidelines set by state and local leaders.

“In unwavering support yet with extreme sadness, we must cancel our spring sports programming,” the association said.

The IHSAA postponed the boys basketball tournament on March 13. But six days later, the association announced the first cancellation of the tournament since it started in 1910-11.

9:50 p.m., April 2

Residents at 29 nursing homes, state prison inmates infected with COVID-19

Residents at 29 Indiana nursing homes have been diagnosed with COVID-19, along with inmates an unspecified number of correctional facilities, state officials said Thursday.

Both types of locations are considered serious in a pandemic, because the virus can spread quickly in confined spaces. In addition, elderly people in nursing homes or prisons with underlying medical conditions are considered especially vulnerable if they are infected.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said 76 people have tested positive in those nursing homes in recent days. The number included both residents and workers, she said. She did not identify the nursing homes.

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4:55 p.m., April 2

Holcomb hints he will extend stay-at-home order on Friday

At his daily press briefing on Thursday, Gov. Eric Holcomb hinted that he would have an announcement Friday afternoon about the state’s stay-at-home order.

The existing order is set to expire on Wednesday, and Holcomb said he wants to give people clarity before the weekend.

The pending announcement on Friday is likely an extension of the existing order. On Thursday, Holcomb announced that all K-12 schools would be closed for the rest of the academic year and continued to stress that the pandemic is far from over.

“We have to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to flatten that curve and to slow the spread to the best of our ability,” Holcomb said. “That requires behavioral change…. That requires us to be responsible and not send kids into a classroom, not send our workforce into non-essential jobs, so that they become spreaders, so that we exacerbate this. That’s like pouring fuel on a fire.”

4:51 p.m., April 2

Simon cuts executive pay, citing virus impact

The COVID-19 pandemic is leading to steep pay cuts for top brass at the Indianapolis-based mall giant Simon Property Group.

In a Securities and Exchange Commission filing Thursday, the company said CEO David Simon has agreed to reduce his base salary to zero, while General Counsel Steven Fivel and Chief Administrative Officer John Rulli have agreed to 30% salary reductions. Meanwhile, Chief Financial Officer Brian McDade and Assistant General Counsel Alexander Snyder agreed to 25% cuts.

The reason for the reductions was “the COVID-19 pandemic and its related impact on the company’s business operations,” the filing said. Simon on March 18 temporarily closed its 200 U.S. shopping centers, amid social distancing recommendations and orders from government officials aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.

The pay reductions were effective March 28 and will continue for an undetermined period of time.

IBJ reported Tuesday that David Simon had agreed to waive his salary as part of cost-cutting that included eliminating more than 100 corporate jobs. Simon in 2019 received salary of $1.25 million, part of a compensation package valued at $10.4 million.

Here are the 2019 salaries for the the other executives who accepted pay cuts: Fivel and Rulli, $634,615; McDade, $442,308; and Snyder, $442,692.

Price gouging complaints pouring in

Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill announced Thursday that his office has received dozens of price-gouging complaints since Gov. Eric Holcomb declared a public health emergency on March 6.

The complaints have involved high prices at superstores, home improvement stores, grocery stores and e-commerce websites. Some of the items being sold for excessive amounts include toilet paper, food and cleaning products.

The Consumer Protection Division of Hill’s office is reviewing all price-gouging complaints. If it’s determined a product is being sold at an unfair price, the office will issue a cease-and-desist letter to the seller. Complaints can be filed here.

12:45 p.m., April 2

Theater chain, linen service disclose layoffs in Indianapolis

Mass layoffs continue to rise in the Indianapolis area as employers of all types shut down or reduce operations during the pandemic.

In the latest notices to the state, movie theater operator Cinemark USA Inc. said it was terminating 150 employees at three theaters in the state, and Alsco Linen and Uniform Rental Services said it was indefinitely laying off 72 employees at its Indianapolis branch at 711 E. Vermont St.

Alsco said it hoped to return the employees to work within six months.

Cinemark’s only area theater is at 1848 E. Stop 13 Road on the south side of Indianapolis. A total of 52 employees lost jobs at that location. Cinemark told IBJ it expects to reopen all three locations.

11:45 a.m., April 2

Kroger rolls out ‘hero bonus’ for frontline employees

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. this week announced it will pay its hourly frontline employees a “hero bonus” for their work during the coronavirus pandemic.

The bonus applies to Kroger’s grocery, supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees. They will receive a $2 premium above their standard hourly pay rate for the hours worked from March 29 through April 18.

Kroger said expects more than 16,500 associates to be eligible for the bonus in the Central Division, which includes Indiana. The average hourly wage is $15 an hour at Kroger.

The new bonus is in addition to one-time bonuses announced last month that will give $300 to full-time hourly employees and $150 to part-timers. Those bonuses will be distributed Friday.

A coronavirus-related surge in customer demand has sent Kroger on a hiring spree. The chain has hired more than 30,000 people over the past two weeks and is still hiring.

Kroger is the nation’s largest grocer, with 2,758 food stores that operate under a variety of banners. In Indiana, Kroger operates 150 food stores, three convenience stores and two jewelry stores under the Kroger, Ruler Foods, Owen’s, Turkey Hill, Jay C Food Stores and Pay Less Super Markets banners.

5:45 a.m., April 2

North suburbs partner with lab for weekly COVID-19 tests

Aria Diagnostics LLC is partnering with a several suburbs north of Indianapolis to offer first responders and public employees weekly coronavirus testing.

Zak Khan, a partner at Aria, said the Indianapolis-based toxicology laboratory’s drive-thru and mobile testing service for COVID-19, is increasing its capacity to test certain employees of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Whitestown and other suburban cities.

On Monday, the city of Carmel started sending its first responders and any employees working in teams or with the public to get tested at Aria’s drive-up facility at 5635 W. 96th St.

“Some may question the necessity for widespread testing of our city staff, but we cannot afford to err on the side of caution for this killer virus that has changed our way of life around the world,” Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said in a written statement.

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8:44 p.m., April 1

Anthem waiving out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatments

Anthem Inc. is latest major health care insurer to waive out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 treatment.

The Indianapolis-based company announced Wednesday evening that effective immediately, it is waiving member costs for COVID-19 treatment received through May 31.

Other big insurers, including Cigna, Humana and UnitedHealth Group, have already rolled out similar moves. Those actions could save untold costs for thousands of members during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anthem announced previously that it would waive copays, coinsurance and deductibles for the diagnostic test related to COVID-19, as well as for visits associated with COVID-19 testing.

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7 p.m., April 1

Franklin nursing home resident dies after COVID-19 battle

An 87-year-old resident of a Franklin senior community died Wednesday morning of COVID-19, after being taken to the hospital last week.

The deceased was only identified as a women who had lived at Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community who was taken to the hospital last week with issues from a pre-existing condition.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we grieve her death,” Rob Newcomer, the community’s executive director, said in press release issued Wednesday afternoon.

The senior community initially was hit with an outbreak of COVID-19 on Thursday, when eight residents tested positive, along with a nurse and therapist. On Sunday, the community said seven more residents tested positive, bringing the total to 15 in less than a week.

Otterbein did not have immediate information Wednesday on how many resident or staff members are still hospitalized. The campus, 1070 W. Jefferson St., houses about 400 residents across all levels of care.

5:40 p.m., April 1

As COVID-19 cases rise in state, testing appears to have slowed

The number of Hoosiers with COVID-19 continues to climb, but testing across Indiana appears to have slowed in recent days, even as state officials say they are ramping up test supplies and sites around the state.

That raises questions about whether the state is doing enough to warn people who might be infected and to track the spread of the disease.

Figures posted daily by the Indiana State Department of Health show that 1,002 people were tested for the novel coronavirus on Tuesday, a sharp decline from 1,715 on Monday and 1,828 on Sunday. Last Thursday, the number of people tested was an all-time high of 2,285.

State leaders on Wednesday, however, continued to defend “targeted testing”—or restricting tests to certain high-risk groups—saying they didn’t want to deplete test supplies.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said that people who don’t have any symptoms, which he called the “worried well,” should not be getting tested, leaving the swabs and testing chemicals available for those who have high fevers, respiratory issues and other serious health issues.

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4:52 p.m., April 1

Mayor extends Marion County’s stay-at-home order until May 1

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Marion County Public Health Department on Wednesday announced the extension of the county’s “stay-at-home” order to May 1.

The order, which had been set to expire Monday, April 6, now states that all non-essential businesses are to remain closed through May 1.

Meanwhile, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has yet to extend the state’s stay-at-home order, which is set to expire Monday.

Additionally, the Marion County Public Heath Department has ordered the closure of all golf courses in the county beginning April 3. And all Indy Parks programming has been canceled through the end of April.

The extended stay-at-home order also applies to Marion County’s “warning” travel status, the highest level allowed under state law, which restricts travel except for emergency situations and for essential functions, which include to care for another individual, to purchase groceries, food or beverages, and to pick up of prescriptions.

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3:59 p.m., April 1

Children’s Museum to stay closed until further notice

The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis announced Thursday that it will remain closed until further notice as a result of the pandemic.

The Museum had previously announced it would close through March 28, then lengthened the closure through April 10.

“The health and safety of our visitors, members, staff and volunteers remain our highest priority,” the museum said in its announcement. “We continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 daily through county, state and federal health organizations, and will make thoughtful and strategic decisions based on their recommendations.”

The museum invited patrons to stay connected to the museum through its Museum at Home program.

11:21 a.m., April 1

Lilly expands drive-thru COVID-19 testing

Eli Lilly and Co. is expanding its drive-thru testing for COVID-19 to workers in businesses deemed essential by the state of Indiana who have regular public contact as part of their job, and to people in the community showing symptoms who are vulnerable to severe complications of the virus.

That means that tens of thousands of additional people, potentially, who might not have been eligible to get tested elsewhere, could now be tested. Previously, Lilly had restricted its testing to health care workers and first responders.

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10:04 a.m., April 1

Coronavirus cases soar to 2,565 in state, 1,117 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 2,565 after the emergence of 406 more cases.

The state has reported 1,051 new cases over the past three days.

The death toll in the state has risen to 65, up from 49 the previous day.

The department reported that 14,375 people have been tested so far, up from 13,373 in Tuesday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 1,117 cases—up 153 cases from the previous day—with 21 deaths.

Counties in the Indianapolis area have reported at least 19 cases each: Hamilton (179), Johnson (118), Hendricks (91), Boone (29), Hancock (33), Madison (46), Morgan (41) and Shelby (19).

Only nine of Indiana’s 92 counties have not reported cases.

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

As of Wednesday morning, 189,633 cases had been reported in the United States, with 4,081 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 877,400 cases have been reported globally, with 43,537 deaths. More than 185,240 people have recovered.

10:10 p.m., March 31

Businesses might get COVID-19 relief loans as soon as Friday

Small businesses seeking loans through the government’s $2 trillion coronavirus relief package could receive money as soon as Friday.

That prediction came Tuesday from senior administration officials who spoke to reporters about the details of the loan program.

Companies will be able to submit applications on Friday. Because the government is using an approval process that has been stripped down from the one used for traditional business loans, the money can be available to borrowers the same day, the officials said.

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8:25 p.m., March 31

A dozen Indy firefighters test positive for COVID-19

Indianapolis Fire Department officials said Tuesday night that 12 firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19 and are all home in isolation.

The firefighters do not work at a single station and it’s not clear whether their cases are connected, said Rita Reith, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Other firefighters that work closely with those whose cases have been confirmed are at home in quarantine and will be sent through a testing program that Eli Lilly and Co. set up for health care workers and first responders.

The fire department has 1,237 firefighters at 43 stations. To date, roughly 70 firefighters have been tested, with 58 testing negative for the virus.

The department has implemented a number of new policies to try to protect firefighters from catching the coronavirus. But now, the department will check the temperature of every firefighter at shift changes. A fever is a symptom of COVID-19.

8:20 p.m., March 31

Subaru extends shutdown through April 17, but promises pay only through April 10

Subaru has extended the temporary closure of its production facilities in Japan and U.S.—including a plant in Lafayette—due to supply chain interruptions and to adjust production volume in light of declining global demand.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive will be shutdown through April 17.

Employees will receive full pay through April 10. But the company said information about pay for the week of April 13-17 “is forthcoming.”

7:45 p.m., March 31

Simon cuts jobs in Indy, across country

Shopping mall giant Simon Property Group is making deep expense reductions, including the elimination of more than 100 jobs at its downtown Indianapolis headquarters and its New York City office, a source familiar with the moves told IBJ.

The cost savings include CEO David Simon opting to work for no salary during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to IBJ’s source as well as a report by CNBC. David Simon earned $1.25 million in salary in 2018, the latest year available, part of a compensation package that year valued at $11.4 million.

CNBC reported Tuesday that in addition to cutting staff, Simon furloughed 30% of its workforce, with those employees set to return when now-shuttered shopping centers reopen.

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6:15 p.m., March 31

Holcomb extends restrictions on bars, restaurants

Gov. Eric Holcomb has extended the state’s order requiring that bars, nightclubs and restaurants remain closed to inside dining through April 6, although they can continue to provide takeout and delivery services.

The move—while expected—extends the pain for a hospitality industry that is reeling from closures that have many eateries on the brink.

Holcomb issued his initial order closing restaurants and bars on March 16, an order that was to stay in place through the end of March. That followed similar orders in Ohio and Illinois.

A week later, the governor ordered all non-essential businesses to close and told Hoosiers to stay at home—except to buy food or prescriptions, obtain health care, take care of others or go to an essential job—through April 7.

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4:36 p.m., March 31

Stocks fall, capping Wall Street’s worst quarter since 2008

Stocks fell Tuesday to close out Wall Street’s worst quarter since the most harrowing days of the 2008 financial crisis.

The S&P 500 dropped a final 1.6%, bringing its loss for the first three months of the year to 20% as predictions for the looming recession caused by the coronavirus outbreak got even more dire. Stocks haven’t had this bad a quarter since the last time economists were talking about the worst downturn since the Great Depression, when the S&P 500 lost 22.6% at the end of 2008.

The surge of coronavirus cases around the world has sent markets to breathtaking drops since mid-February, undercutting what had been a good start to the year. Markets rose early in the quarter, and the S&P 500 set a record with expectations that the economy was accelerating due to calming trade wars and low interest rates around the world.

But benchmark U.S. crude oil dropped by roughly two thirds this quarter on expectations that a weakened economy will need less fuel. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped below 1% for the first time as investors scrambled for safety, and it ended the quarter at roughly 0.67%. Germany’s DAX lost a quarter of its value, and South Korean stocks fell just over 20%.

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4:31 p.m., March 31

Number of medical volunteers more than doubles in one day as COVID-19 surges in Indiana

About 11,000 health care professionals in Indiana who are retired or idled for other reasons say they are willing to help with the surge in COVID-19 cases, state officials said Tuesday—more than double the number of volunteers from just one day earlier.

The increase has happened as word spreads that hospitals, nursing homes and other sites will be in dire need of more professionals to help tend to the growing patient load, said Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana state health commissioner.

The list of volunteer professionals includes doctors, nurses, paramedics, dentists, veterinarians, therapists and midwives. Many of those people will be used to free up health care workers who have experience with more critical care. The figure  does not include medical students and nursing students, who may also be deployed into service under the care of licensed professionals.

On Monday, the state said that 5,300 people had volunteered. “It gives me the encouragement that we will emerge from this crisis stronger as a state,” Box said, announcing the figures at Gov. Eric Holcomb’s daily press conference.

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3:30 p.m., March 31

Initial unemployment claims jump for second straight week

Initial unemployment insurance claims surged to 120,331 in Indiana last week, up from just 2,312 two weeks ago, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Department of Workforce Development.

The new figure more than doubled last week’s claims. The numbers are skyrocketing as thousands of people lose their jobs either temporarily or permanently during the coronavirus pandemic.

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12:30 p.m., March 31

Noblesville offering $10K grants to help businesses

Small business owners in Noblesville have until the end of Friday to apply for a $10,000 grant from the city aimed at keeping businesses afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen announced Monday the city is offering up to $10,000 to help local businesses with immediate needs related to payroll, rent, utilities and other expenses. After applications are reviewed by a selection committee, approved recipients will be notified the week of April 6 and payments will be distributed no later than April 17.

“Noblesville’s grant program will be focused on those businesses that may not be eligible for other assistance or that have immediate needs beyond that which can be met by other federal and state assistance programs,” Jensen said in a written statement. “Small businesses are crucial part of the fabric of our community and we hope this grant will provide assistance and promote economic vitality within the city.”

To be eligible, businesses must be in good standing with regard to state and local taxes, licenses and code compliance and the Indiana Secretary of State’s office. Businesses also have to have been established and operational in the city for at least 6 months.

Funds may be used for payroll (excluding the owner), utilities, rent, mortgage payments, insurance and products directly used to create a product for sale.

City spokesperson Emily Gaylord said the city is waiting to see the response from businesses before determining how many grants will be awarded out of the $16 million in rainy day funds. She said future distributions may take place, depending on the availability of those funds.

Additional information is available on the city’s website.

10:15 a.m., March 31

Coronavirus cases surge to 2,159 in state, 964 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 2,159 after the emergence of 373 more cases.

The death toll in the state has risen to 49, up from 35 the previous day.

The department reported that 13,373 people have been tested so far, up from 11,658 in Monday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 964 cases—up 160 cases from the previous day—with 17 deaths.

Every county in the Indianapolis area has at least a dozen cases each: Hamilton (127), Johnson (101), Hendricks (70), Boone (22), Hancock (26), Madison (38), Morgan (32) and Shelby (15).

More than 80 of Indiana’s 92 counties have reported cases.

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

As of Tuesday morning, 164,719 cases had been reported in the United States, with 3,170 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 803,300 cases have been reported globally, with 39,014 deaths. More than 172,650 people have recovered.

10:29 p.m., March 30

Indiana’s finances taking big blow during pandemic

Indiana’s finances are taking a major hit from the coronavirus crisis, and it still remains to be seen how big the damage will be.

The virus continued to spread Monday, with the state’s tally of cases rising by 273, to 1,786, including 35 people who have died, health officials said.

Unemployment claims have skyrocketed with business and factory closings in the past couple weeks, along with less retail spending expected to mean a sizable hit to sales tax revenue. A three-month delay in the normal April tax filing deadline will mean less income at a time of heightened public health spending.

Perhaps $1 billion will have to be spent from the state’s $2.3 billion in cash reserves to get through the budget year that ends June 30, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday.

The federal coronavirus economic relief package approved by Congress last week dedicated $150 billion for state and local governments, with at least $1.25 billion for the smallest states. Indiana officials haven’t yet said how much they anticipate the state will receive.

“The federal stimulus is going to help us get through this health crisis, this financial adverse impact that is coming from the virus,” Holcomb said. “We’re going to have to deal with it. We have to deliver services on a month-in, month-out basis. That surplus is going to help us do that.”

Officials had projected that the state would collect nearly $2.2 billion in April, as the biggest revenue month of its anticipated $16.8 billion in revenue for the year.

Office of Management and Budget Director Cristopher Johnston, Holcomb’s top fiscal adviser, said income tax collections in April could be down 50% with the tax filing deadline delayed until July.

Some $50 million a month in gambling taxes won’t be coming in with the state’s casinos shut down. Officials have said they don’t know how much of a decline they’ll see in the roughly $700 million a month the state collects in sales taxes, which is the state government’s largest revenue source.

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3:15 p.m., March 30

IUPUI preparing University Tower for health care workers

IUPUI said Monday it is cleaning and sanitizing University Tower, a resident hall across the street from Indiana University Health’s University Hospital on the central part of the campus.

The facility will provide housing for health care workers, Amber Denny, an IUPUI spokeswoman, said in an email to IBJ.

The rooms are intended to be used by IU Health workers to provide a place of rest in between shifts.

University Tower has 278 residential rooms, however not all will be available for use, Denny said. The tower has 600-plus beds, various campus offices, dining and restaurant space.

Students who were residing in the tower have since been moved to another residence hall.

2:05 p.m., March 30

Indiana manufacturer lays off 883 during shutdown

NHK Seating of America Inc. said it was extending a temporary shutdown at its plant in Frankfort that would last until at least April 7, affecting 883 workers.

The auto parts company said in a letter to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development that 778 of the workers are full-time, five are part-time and 100 are temporary.

NHK said all employees were paid the week of March 23-27 at their regular hourly rate.

The company said employees had the option to use paid time off turning the shutdown. Insurance benefits will still be paid.

“Plans are now to return to work on April 7, 2020, or when our customer, SIA Automotive, resumes production operations.”

12:55 p.m., March 30

Indianapolis Star parent furloughing workers

Gannett Co. Inc., the parent of The Indianapolis Star, told employees Monday morning that it was instituting furloughs and other cost reductions to make up for advertising declines during the pandemic, according to multiple media outlets.

Reporters and editors who earn more than $38,000 annually will be required to take one unpaid week off per month during April, May and June. Executives will take a 25% pay reduction. CEO Paul Bascobert said he would take no salary during the time period.

Bascobert said page views have soared on Gannet news sites during the pandemic, but that isn’t translating into advertising dollars.

10:05 a.m., March 30

Coronavirus cases rise to 1,786 in state, 804 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 1,786 after the emergence of 272 more cases.

The state has reported 805 new cases over the past three days.

The death toll in the state has risen to 35, up from 32 the previous day.

The department reported that 11,658 people have been tested so far, up from 9,830 in Sunday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 804 cases—up 128 cases from the previous day—with 12 deaths.

Every county in the Indianapolis area has at least a dozen cases each: Hamilton (106), Johnson (81), Hendricks (58), Boone (20), Hancock (28), Madison (29), Morgan (23) and Shelby (13).

The health department is providing case updates daily at about 10 a.m. based on results received through 11:59 p.m. the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

The state said 97.1% of those who have died in the state were 50 and older; 85.7% were 60 and older; 68.6% were 70 and older; and 40% were 80 and older. More than 65% of those who died were males.

As of Monday morning, 143,055 cases had been reported in the United States, with 2,513 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 737,900 cases have been reported globally, with 34,830 deaths. More than 156,500 people have recovered.

8:35 p.m., March 29

U.S. surgeon general mentions Indianapolis as emerging virus hot spot

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who was Indiana’s state health commissioner from 2014 to 2017, mentioned Indianapolis on Sunday as one of several emerging hot spots for COVID-19 cases.

Adams said on Twitter that six cities could quickly be dealing with crisis situations like those found in Washington state, California and New York.

“We must now focus on flattening the curve AND raising the bar in emerging hot spots like New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, LA, Miami, and Indianapolis,” he tweeted. “We have the playbook, but we must all increasingly run the plays faster and better as #COVID19 spreads the field.”

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 1,514, with 32 deaths. The state has reported 533 new cases over the past two days.

Indiana has about 400 more cases and 13 more deaths than neighboring Ohio despite having half the population. Coronavirus cases in Ohio could accelerate to 10,000 each day in coming weeks, Ohio State Health Director Amy Acton projected Friday.

6:55 p.m., March 29

COVID-19 cases rise to 15 at Franklin senior community

Seven more residents of a Franklin senior community have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total to 15 in less than a week.

Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife said Sunday that six of the seven latest patients to test positive are now in isolation in a special unit, and the seventh was hospitalized.

In addition, 12 other residents tested negative. Results are still out for two others.

All the residents tested had shown symptoms of COVID-19—which typically include fevers, sore throats and trouble breathing—or had direct contact with individuals who had previously tested positive, said Gary Horning, spokesman for the parent company, Otterbein SeniorLife, based in Lebanon, Ohio.

The senior community first announced Thursday that eight residents had tested positive for COVID-19, along with a nurse and a therapist. All of those residents remain hospitalized, Otterbein said Sunday. The therapist and nurse who tested positive are recovering at home.

The campus, 1070 W. Jefferson St., houses about 400 residents across all levels of care.

5:46 p.m., March 29

Up to 200K U.S. deaths foreseen as more cities stricken

The coronavirus outbreak could kill 100,000 to 200,000 Americans, the U.S. government’s top infectious-disease expert warned Sunday as smoldering hotspots in nursing homes and a growing list of stricken cities heightened the sense of dread across the country.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, made the dire prediction of fatalities on CNN, adding that millions in the U.S. could become infected.

By midafternoon, the U.S. had over 130,000 infections and 2,300 deaths, according to the running tally kept by Johns Hopkins University, though the true number of cases is thought to be considerably higher because of testing shortages and mild illnesses that have gone unreported.

Worldwide, more than 700,000 infections were reported, and deaths topped 33,000, half of them in Italy and Spain, where hospitals are swamped and the health system is at the breaking point.

New York State—where the death toll closed in on 1,000, up by more than 200 from the day before—remained the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, with the vast majority of the deaths in New York City. But spikes in infections were recorded around the country, not only in metropolitan areas but in Midwestern towns and Rocky Mountain ski havens.

Since the U.S. saw its first major outbreak of the coronavirus earlier this month—centered at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington—a stream of facilities have battled infections among residents and staff.

A week ago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 147 nursing homes in 27 states had patients with COVID-19. The problem has only worsened since.

10:08 a.m., March 29

Coronavirus cases rise to 1,514 in state, 676 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 1,514 after the emergence of 282 more cases.

The state has reported 533 new cases over the past two days.

The death toll in the state has risen to 32, up from 31 the previous day.

The department reported that 9,830 people have been tested so far, up from 8,407 in Saturday’s report and 6,936 in Friday’s report. The ISDH said the test numbers reflect only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 676 cases—up 92 cases from the previous day—with 10 deaths.

Counties in the Indianapolis area have at least a dozen cases each: Hamilton (83), Johnson (71), Hendricks (48), Boone (13), Hancock (22), Madison (18), Morgan (20) and Shelby (12).

More than 63% of the state’s reported cases have occurred in the Indianapolis area.

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in more than 85 of Indiana’s 92 counties so far.

As of Sunday morning, 124,686 cases had been reported in the United States, with 2,191 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than a third of deaths occurred in New York and Washington state.

More than 681,700 cases have been reported globally, with 31,882 deaths. More than 145,690 people have recovered.

10:40 p.m., March 28

Traffic counts plummet under stay-home order

Traffic on the state’s highways has dropped dramatically since a stay-at-home order issued by the governor took effect Wednesday, with exemptions for essential businesses to remain open and for necessary trips for food and medicine.

State highway traffic counts showed that, as of Thursday, overall traffic was down 41% since the first week of March.

“That includes a 45% reduction in light vehicles on our state highways,” state highway Commissioner Joe McGuinness said Friday. “Those are the sedans, minivans and passenger vehicles.”

10:30 p.m., March 28

Chicago turning McCormick Place into hospital as cases grow

Chicago is quickly becoming a hot spot for COVID-19 cases. Illinois reported 3,491 positive cases Saturday with more than 2,600 of those in Chicago or Cook County.

Cases are growing so fast that Gov. J.B. Pritzker said McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago will serve as Illinois’ first “field hospital.” On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers’ commander, Lt. Gen. Todd Semonite, told reporters the corps is setting up beds to accommodate about 3,000 patients at the convention center, and will be ready by April 24.

10:25 p.m., March 28

State’s top two officials working apart

Indiana’s two top state officials have started working apart due to the pandemic. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch “mutually agreed to be in different locations to socially distance themselves,” Holcomb spokeswoman Rachel Hoffmeyer said Saturday.

Neither has been tested for the COVID-19 illness so far and both have been feeling healthy, Hoffmeyer told The Associated Press.

Holcomb and Crouch both attended a Statehouse news conference on Wednesday. Hoffmeyer didn’t immediately provide information about when the two officials were last together and whether Crouch remained in Indianapolis or had gone to her home in Evansville.

10:15 a.m., March 28

Coronavirus cases rise to 1,232 in state, 584 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 1,232 after the emergence of 251 more cases.

The death toll in the state has risen to 31, up from 24 the previous day.

The department reported that 8,407 people have been tested so far, up from 6,936 people in the previous day’s report. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

Marion County reported 584 cases—up 100 cases from the previous day—with 10 deaths.

Other area counties with cases are Hamilton (64), Johnson (52), Hendricks (36), Boone (8), Hancock (19), Madison (12), Morgan (14) and Shelby (10).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in more than 70 of Indiana’s 92 counties so far.

As of Saturday morning, 104,860 cases had been reported in the United States, with 1,711 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than a third of deaths occurred in New York and Washington state.

The United States now has more cases than any other country.

More than 615,500 cases have been reported globally, with 28,717 deaths. More than 35,700 people have recovered.

7:40 p.m., March 27

Kroger on hiring spree in Indiana, Illinois

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. says it has hired 275 new employees in the last three days at its Indiana and Illinois stores, with hundreds more still to come as the grocery chain works to respond to a huge coronavirus-related surge in customer demand.

Job seekers can apply either online or at a local store. Both full-time and part-time positions are available.

Each store in Kroger’s Central Division needs up to 35 new employees, said company spokesman Eric Halvorson. Ordinarily, individual locations employ from 50 to 350 people, Halvorson said, depending on the size of the store.

Nationwide, the company has recently added more than 23,500 new employees, with plans to hire another 20,000 over the next several weeks.

Kroger is the nation’s largest grocer, with 2,758 food stores that operate under a variety of banners. In Indiana, Kroger operates 150 food stores, three convenience stores and two jewelry stores under the Kroger, Ruler Foods, Owen’s, Turkey Hill, Jay C Food Stores and Pay Less Super Markets banners.

Kroger is among numerous retailers that have been on a hiring spree recently. Walmart announced last week it would hire 150,000 people, including 2,000 in Indiana. Amazon announced March 16 that it would hire 100,000 people in the U.S. and raise pay by $2 per hour.

Birmingham, Alabama-based home delivery company Shipt, a subsidiary of Target Corp., announced Tuesday that it seeks to hire 1,500 Indianapolis-area shoppers.

4:38 p.m., March 27

Southern Indiana casino to lay off 407 workers

Rising Star Casino Resort in Rising Sun alerted state officials on Friday that it is laying off 407 workers as part of its closure under state actions to try to limit the spread of COVID-19.

The Indiana Gaming Commission ordered Rising Star and other Indiana casinos to close on March 16. Rising Star said it also closed its hotel, dining, golf and other amenities at that time.

As a result, the company said it will terminate its casino, restaurant and hotel employees on Tuesday. It will keep 36 “essential team employees who will continue working on operations until such time we may reopen,” the company said in a required layoff notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The company said that “should the Rising Star reopen in the near future, we anticipate we will have positions for which most of our current employees may apply.”

3:25 p.m., March 27

Carmel reopens golf courses, but no holes, carts, flagsticks allowed

Good news for golfers in Carmel: After closing all golf courses in the city a week ago because of the pandemic, Mayor Jim Brainard is allowing them to reopen. The bad news: There won’t be any holes on the greens.

Brainard issued a list of restrictions Friday that courses must follow before they allow players. Among them is filling holes on the greens so players can’t reach into them for their ball.

Other rules: Golf shops, clubhouses, driving ranges and restrooms must stay closed. And no riding or walking carts, flagsticks, bunker rakes or tee markers are allowed.

3:15 p.m., March 27

City Market tenants offered rent deferrals

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Friday said the city is offering a two-month rent deferral to tenants in the main hall of City Market.

“The City Market is home to more than two-dozen small businesses and, due to COVID-19 restrictions, market merchants are experiencing a significant loss in revenue,” the city said in a written statement. “Today’s announcement lightens the burden for these local entrepreneurs, while serving as a model for other landlords in the community.”

The merchants can defer up to two months of rent and pay the funds over the remainder of their lease, without fees or accrued interest, the city said.

1:52 p.m., March 27

State releases demographic breakdown on COVID-19 cases

People over the age of 50 account for more than half of the positive cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, while women outnumber men by 4 percentage points, the Indiana State Health Department said Friday.

The state released a short demographic breakdown, offering the first look at who is being affected by the coronavirus that is sweeping the world. In Indiana, 981 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 24 people have died as of 11:59 p.m. Thursday

The information was released in advance of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press conference on Friday afternoon with other state officials, including State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box. It’s unclear if a more detailed look will be provided at the press conference.

The only types of information provided were a breakdown of positive test cases in Indiana by gender and age group. So far, women account for 52% percent of positive cases, while men account for 48%, the health department said.

The age groups combined for men and women, and broken down into 10-year groups. The largest single age group testing positive was 50 to 59 (18%), followed by 60 to 69 (17.6%), 40 to 49 (15.6%), 30 to 39 (15%), 70 to 79 (12.5%), 20 to 29 (11.3%), 80 and older (8.3%) and 0 to 19 (1.8%).

The health department did not provide demographic information for those who have been hospitalized or died.

12:54 p.m., March 27

Indianapolis Public Library extends closures during pandemic

The Indianapolis Public Library, which closed facilities March 15, has extended those closures to at least May 4 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, the library announced it would keep its facilities closed and postpone all its public programs until at least May 4. Previously, the library had said it had hoped to reopen on April 6, although it noted at that time that it would monitor conditions and extend the closure as needed.

The library said it is working to reschedule its Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture, which was to have taken place April 30 featuring award-winning illustrator and author Kadir Nelson.

A planned grand opening for the library’s new Martindale-Brightwood Branch and the groundbreaking for its new West Perry Branch have also been postponed.

The library is extending due dates for checked-out items until facilities reopen.

Reference services are still available at 317-275-4184, and library patrons can also access the library’s digital collection of e-books, videos and other electronic items.

12:18 p.m., March 27

Coronavirus cases rise to 981 in state, 484 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 981 after the emergence of 336 more cases.

The department reported that 6,936 people have been tested so far, up from 4,651 people in the previous day’s report. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The death toll in the state has risen to 24, up from 17 the previous day.

Marion County reported 484 cases—up 191 cases from the previous day—with eight deaths.

Other area counties with cases are Hamilton (52), Johnson (42), Hendricks (28), Boone (7), Hancock (13), Madison (7), Morgan (10) and Shelby (6).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in nearly 70 of Indiana’s 92 counties so far.

As of Friday morning, 85,996 cases had been reported in the United States, with 1,301 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than a third of deaths occurred in New York and Washington state.

The United States now has more cases than any other country.

More than 549,600 cases have been reported globally, with 24,863 deaths. More than 127,500 people have recovered.

8:45 p.m., March 27

State dips into reserves for spending as pandemic cuts into revenue

Gov. Eric Holcomb talks about the state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic at a March 24 press conference. (IBJ photo/Eric Learned)
It’s the time of the year when the state of Indiana usually collects the most tax revenue, but state officials are warning that won’t be the case this year and are preparing to make spending cuts wherever possible.

Cris Johnston, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said on Thursday that April is typically the highest tax collection month of the year, bringing in $2.2 billion. But the impact the coronavirus pandemic is having on tax revenue coupled with the delay in the deadline for making income tax payments will create budget constraints and cash flow issues over the next few months.

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10:42 p.m., March 26

Pharmacists say doctors hoarding unproven coronavirus medicine

The Indiana Pharmacists Association is among groups nationally that say pharmacists are reporting medication hoarding, inappropriate prescribing and limited prescriber availability of two drugs touted as possible treatments for COVID-19.

The association on Thursday said that it has asked Gov. Eric Holcomb to take emergency actions to prevent shortages of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin by prohibiting the prescription of the drugs for COVID-19 prevention.

The two drugs are only available through a prescription and cannot be purchased over the counter. Hydroxychloroquine, sold under the brand name Plaquenil, is approved to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis while chloroquine is an anti-malarial treatment.

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8:29 p.m., March 26

U.S. has 1.5M expired N95 masks sitting in Indianapolis warehouse

Nearly 1.5 million N95 respirator masks are sitting in a U.S. government warehouse in Indiana and authorities have not shipped them because they are past their expiration date, despite Centers for Disease Control guidelines that have been issued for their safe use during the coronavirus outbreak, according to five people with knowledge of the stockpile.

Department of Homeland Security officials had a conference call Wednesday to figure out what to do with the masks, which are part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s emergency supplies. DHS officials decided to offer the respirators to the Transportation Security Administration, whose workforce has been clamoring for protective equipment, according to three of the people who described the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.

CBP has no plans to offer the masks to hard-hit hospitals, or hand them over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, three of the people said.

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7:35 p.m., March 26

IndyGo to cut schedule, eliminate fares due to coronavirus

IndyGo is temporarily eliminating fares, reducing its service schedule and taking other actions starting Sunday in response to the coronavirus.

To reduce interactions aboard buses, IndyGo is suspending all fares and will require riders to board through the vehicles’ rear entrances. Riders who need to use a wheelchair-accessible ramp will continue to board the buses via the front door.

IndyGo said it will begin running routes on a Saturday schedule six days a week, which means buses will be running less often than usual on weekdays. Sunday service will remain as scheduled.

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6:50 p.m., March 26

Greenfield auto parts plant lays off 336 employees in temporary closure

An automotive parts plant that opened less than a year ago in Greenfield said Thursday it has shut down its operations and temporarily laid off 336 employees because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

BWI Group—also known as BeijingWest Industries Co.—said the layoffs are necessary because Gov. Eric Holcomb ordered all non-essential businesses closed and because the Ford plants it supplies have shut down their production lines.

The layoffs, which happened Tuesday, affected 172 permanent BWI employees at the plant at 989 Opportunity Parkway and 164 temporary workers from First Call and Morales Group staffing agencies.

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3:18 p.m., March 26

State order doesn’t allow police to stop Hoosiers for being out of their homes

State and local police can’t stop drivers or pedestrians and ask why they are out and about, despite Gov. Eric Holcomb’s order that people who should stay at home unless their jobs are essential, said Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter.

He also said no one in Indiana needs to be carrying documents that identify them or their jobs as essential.

Carter spoke during a press conference at the Indiana Statehouse about concerns among some Hoosiers that police will stop them under the governor’s order.

Carter said he has received nine reports of such stops occurring but has not substantiated them. He said he is relaying to state and local police that they should not be making those stops.

“If someone feels they have been targeted, they need to report that,” he said.

1:25 p.m., March 26

Indy 500 postponed to Aug. 23

The Indianapolis 500 will move to Aug. 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar announced Thursday, marking the first time the historic race has ever run in a month other than May.

The 104th running of the race will still air live on NBC, with a time for the race announced letter.

The GMR Grand Prix—typically run as part of May’s Indy 500 festivities—will move to July 4 on the IMS road course. It will run the day before the Brickyard 400, a NASCAR race that is running on the weekend of Independence Day for the first time this year.

The Indianapolis 500 was originally scheduled for May 24, in its traditional spot on the calendar during Memorial Day weekend. The Grand Prix was scheduled to be run on May 9.

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11:59 a.m., March 26

Indiana officials not detailing state’s ICU capacity

Indiana health officials declined Wednesday to provide details on hospital capacity around the state as the number of confirmed coronavirus-related illnesses continued to grow.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, cited confidentiality arrangements with hospitals for not releasing details about intensive care unit capacity and equipment availability around the state. She said she’s seeing “positive movements” in availability of ICU beds and ventilators.

“Because everybody is stepping up to the plate and trying to pretty much double their ICU capacity, I’m seeing those numbers increase as we go along,” Box said.

Box said the state health department received several truckloads of medical worker protection items such as masks, face shields and gowns this week and was distributing it to hospitals and county health officials.

When asked whether the state had a two-week supply of such items available, Box replied: “We are better off than that, I can guarantee you. I’ve got many hospitals and local health departments that haven’t even yet asked for their allotment.”

11:47 a.m., March 26

Carmel closes Monon Greenway section for overcrowding

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard on Thursday ordered the closure of a section of the Monon Greenway and Midtown Plaza, citing overcrowding.

Congestion in the section was hindering “compliance with social distancing restrictions in place during COVID-19 quarantine,” the city said.

The portion of the trail between Gradle Drive to the south and Main Street to the north will be closed until further notice, Carmel said. Seating and equipment is being removed from Midtown Plaza to further deter people from gathering there.

“I ask for trail users to please practice social distancing on the remaining 230 miles of trails and paths we have in Carmel so that those can remain open,” Brainard said in written remarks. “It is so important to our mental health to get out and enjoy the fresh air, but we must do so responsibly.”

The city said the closure will be enforced by Carmel Police.

11:43 a.m., March 26

Wipe maker hiring 100-plus at local plants

A maker of wet wipes plans to hire more than 100 workers at its manufacturing and distribution facilities in Plainsfield and Mooresville to keep up with demand during the pandemic.

Orangeburg, New York-based Nice-Pak said increased demand for cleaning and hygiene products is spurring the need for more production.

The company said it had openings for both temporary and full-time employees, including machine operators, forklift drivers and maintenance and clerical workers, across all shifts.

Nice-Pak makes antibacterial wipes, baby wipes, toilet wipes, feminine hygiene wipes and lens wipes, among other products.

10 a.m., March 26

Coronavirus cases rise to 645 in state, 293 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 645 after the emergence of 168 more cases.

The department reported that 4,651 people have been tested so far, up from 3,365 people in the previous day’s report. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The death toll in the state has risen to 17, up from 14 the previous day.

Marion County reported 293 cases—up 67 cases from the previous day—with six deaths.

Other area counties with cases are Hamilton (40), Johnson (36), Hendricks (21), Boone (7), Hancock (9), Madison (4), Morgan (7) and Shelby (2).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in at least 60 Indiana counties so far.

As of Thursday morning, 69,197 cases had been reported in the United States, with 1,046 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than a third of deaths occurred in New York and Washington state.

More than 487,640 cases have been reported globally, with 22,030 deaths. More than 117,700 people have recovered.

11:58 p.m., March 25

Indiana manufacturer lays off 392 at two plants

Kokomo-based Haynes International has laid off 392 workers at its manufacturing plants in that city, according to a notice to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.

The layoffs, which began Sunday, were the “result of the unforeseen business circumstances that have arisen from the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, along with the sudden and unexpected resulting decline in customer orders in certain operations,” the company said.

IBJ reported earlier this month that one setback Haynes faced was Boeing’s decision in January to halt production of the 737 Max, for which Haynes supplies parts. That and other lost business opportunities have contributed to a 46% drop in Haynes’ stock price this year.

Haynes employs 765 workers at two plants in Kokomo that make high-performance alloys. The company announced a two-week shutdown of most of its operations March 19.

“We currently anticipate these layoffs will be temporary; however, the nature of the situation is very fluid and we will continue to monitor developments using our best business judgment,” the company said.

3:55 p.m., March 25

Holcomb says state prepared to tap into surplus dollars if necessary

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s not ready to tap into the state’s surplus fund yet, but he’s preparing for that to happen.

The state finished fiscal year 2019 with $2.27 billion in reserves.

“We haven’t spent that yet,” Holcomb said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon to provide updates on the pandemic. “But that day’s coming.”

Holcomb said it will depend on how much funding the state receives in federal government aid.

“We’ll evaluate what they’re able to cover and then what shortcomings are left over,” Holcomb said.

He said the pandemic is an example of why state officials have been “fiscally prudent” for years.

“We weren’t trying to amass a surplus for a bumper sticker slogan,” Holcomb said. “It was for this day.”

Also, at Wednesday’s press conference, Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said the state has received “four or five truckloads in the last two days” of gowns, masks, gloves and face shields from the federal government that will soon be distributed to hospitals. She said the state still had plenty of supplies on hand.

When asked whether the state had a two-week supply of such items available, Box replied: “We are better off than that, I can guarantee you. I’ve got many hospitals and local health departments that haven’t even yet asked for their allotment.”

Box cited confidentiality arrangements with hospitals for not releasing details about intensive care unit capacity and equipment availability around the state. She said she’s seeing “positive movements” in availability of ICU beds and ventilators.

“Because everybody is stepping up to the plate and trying to pretty much double their ICU capacity, I’m seeing those numbers increase as we go along,” Box said.

11:25 a.m., March 25

Local furniture maker lays off 75

A flood of hospitality-related businesses have notified the state of layoffs during the coronavirus pandemic, but area businesses in other industries are beginning to feel the pain.

Whitestown-based commercial furniture manufacturer and installer Facility Concepts Inc. notified the Indiana Department of Workforce Development this week that the firm laid off 75 employees on Monday.

In a letter dated Tuesday, President and CEO Kenneth Weaver said the decision was the “result of a downturn and canceled orders due to COVID-19.”

He said the layoff will “affect the entire facility and is expected to be temporary.”

10:55 a.m., March 25

Subaru extends production shutdown by one week

Subaru of Indiana Automotive is extending the production shutdown at its Lafayette plant through April 6 to align with the state’s stay-at-home order, the company announced Wednesday.

Subaru suspended production Monday with original plans for the shutdown to last one week, through March 27.

The company said it decided to extend the shutdown by a week “to respect Gov. Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, further ensure the health and safety of associates, and adjust volume for deteriorating market conditions as a result of COVID-19.”

All employees will receive full pay during the production shutdown, the company said.

More than 6,000 people work at the facility, which produces about 410,000 vehicles each year.

10:16 a.m., March 25

Grocers installing plexiglass partitions at all checklanes

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. says it will install plexiglass partitions at cash registers to help protect its employees and customers from the coronavirus and “further promote physical distancing.”

Walmart, Market District and GetGo convenience stores are taking similar measures.

Kroger said it will install the partitions “at every checklane, pharmacy counter and Starbucks register in our stores,” with installation beginning this week at many of its stores.

Kroger also said it’s installing “educational floor decals to promote physical distancing at checklanes and other counters.”

Additionally, the company said it’s asking “government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place for all grocery workers—after health care workers—to have access to protective masks and gloves” that they can wear on the job.

Kroger is the nation’s largest grocer, with 2,758 food stores that operate under a variety of banners. In Indiana, Kroger operates 150 food stores, three convenience stores and two jewelry stores under the Kroger, Ruler Foods, Owen’s, Turkey Hill, Jay C Food Stores and Pay Less Super Markets banners.

10:05 a.m., March 25

Coronavirus cases rise to 477 in state, 226 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 477 after the emergence of 112 more cases.

The department reported that 3,365 people have been tested so far, up from 2,931 people in the previous day’s report. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The death toll in the state has risen to 14, up from 12 the previous day.

Marion County reported 226 cases—up 65 cases from the previous day—with six deaths.

Other area counties with cases are Hamilton (30), Johnson (24), Hendricks (15), Boone (4), Hancock (8), Madison (4), Morgan (5) and Shelby (2).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in at least 55 Indiana counties so far.

As of Wednesday morning, 55,238 cases had been reported in the United States with 802 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. More than a third of deaths occurred in New York and Washington state.

More than 436,150 cases have been reported globally with 19,648 deaths. More than 111,800 people have recovered.

11:45 p.m., March 24

Retail delivery service Shipt hiring 1,500 shoppers in Indy area

Home-delivery company Shipt said Tuesday that it is seeking to hire 1,500 “shoppers” in the Indianapolis area to met increased demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

Birmingham, Alabama-based Shipt, a subsidiary of retailer Target Corp., offers delivery service for Target, CVS, Meijer, Office Depot and Office Max, Petco and Sur la table.

Shipt’s shoppers retrieve items from retail shelves based on customer orders and deliver them the customers on a same-day basis.

The company said was immediately recruiting for new hires. Shoppers must be at least 18 years old and have reliable transportation. More information is available at www.shipt.com.

Shipt is among several companies tied to the grocery industry that are hiring while people huddle at home during the pandemic.

On a national basis, Walmart Inc. said it plans to hire 150,000 temporary workers and Kroger said it wants to hire 10,000.

11:30 p.m., March 24

Top state officials urge citizens to take stay-at-home order seriously

Top Indiana officials warned Tuesday that the state’s jump in coronavirus illnesses is likely just the beginning and that obeying a new stay-at-home order is necessary.

The order from Gov. Eric Holcomb takes effect Wednesday. Indiana saw its number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grow to 365 on Tuesday—more than 12 times what state health officials reported a week earlier. Indiana’s coronavirus-related deaths have gone from two to 12 during that time.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said the state’s hospitals had not yet experienced a surge of patients but that they were seeking additional sources of protective equipment for health care workers along with monitoring intensive care unit bed and ventilator capacity at major hospitals for the coming weeks.

“We’re still in the very early parts of this outbreak,” Box said. “We will continue to see more cases.”

Holcomb urged all residents to take seriously the stay-at-home order that runs at least through April 6.

Holcomb said bluntly that any non-essential businesses “shouldn’t be” open in Indiana.

“We’re trying to be as clear and blunt and serious about this as we can,” he said. “… We’re asking for citizens’ buy-in over the next two weeks.”

4:06 p.m., March 24

State to use Lilly grant for center for homeless with COVID-19

The Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded $5 million to the state of Indiana that will be used to establish a center in Indianapolis where homeless individuals who test positive for COVID-19 can be quarantined.

State officials announced the grant during a press conference Tuesday afternoon, but few details were immediately available.

The homelessness population is considered vulnerable to the coronavirus because individuals are in close proximity to one another in shelters and are more likely to have existing health conditions.

“A general spread of COVID-19 in this population quickly becomes a public health emergency and an additional burden on our health care system,” said Indiana Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Jennifer Sullivan.

Sullivan said during Tuesday’s press conference that organizers have secured a location to quarantine those experiencing homelessness. Hospitals, select clinics and the Marion County Public Health Department will be able to refer individuals to the facility.

The exact location of the center is not being disclosed.

Eskenazi Health employees will staff the center and the Indiana National Guard will provide security for it.

11:55 a.m., March 24

State hotline for biz questions resumes operations after temporary shutdown

The state hotline the Holcomb administration set up to provide answers to businesses about the governor’s stay-at-home order has been so swamped with calls that it went down temporarily before on Tuesday morning.

State officials said at about 11:30 a.m. that the line is operating again, but they encouraged businesses or industry officials with questions to consider emailing them to [email protected].

Gov. Eric Holcomb issued an executive order on Monday that require non-essential businesses to shut down, unless their staff was working from home. He also ordered Hoosiers to stay at home unless they are buying food, seeking health care or taking care of a few other essential tasks. The order is good through April 7.

11:10 a.m., March 24

Community relief fund awards more than $7.3M in grants

More than $7.3 million has been awarded to 46 not-for-profits from a new community economic relief fund organized to help individuals and families affected by COVID-19.

The grants announced Tuesday range from $20,000 to $750,000 and were awarded to human service organizations in Boone, Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties that are focused on the economic distress associated with the novel coronavirus, which has caused temporary closures of schools, businesses and organizations in Indiana.

The first funding round, totaling $7,305,000, prioritized child care for health care workers and first responders, food access, homeless shelters, resources for seniors and immigrants, disaster planning and infrastructure support, and multi-service neighborhood centers.

The fund, called the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund, is led by the United Way of Central Indiana. The fund still has more than $17.8 million after the initial funding round.

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10:10 a.m., March 24

Coronavirus cases rise to 365 in state, with 161 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 365 after the emergence of 106 more cases.

The department reported that 2,931 people have been tested, up from 1,960 people in the previous day’s report. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The death toll in the state has risen to 12, up from seven the previous day. The department initially reported seven deaths Tuesday morning.

Marion County reported 161 cases—up 51 cases from the previous day—with three deaths.

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9:18 a.m., March 24

Tokyo Olympics officially postponed until 2021 because of pandemic

The International Olympic Committee announced a first-of-its-kind postponement of the Summer Olympics on Tuesday, bowing to the realities of a coronavirus pandemic that is shutting down daily life around the globe and making planning for a massive worldwide gathering in July a virtual impossibility.

The IIOC said the Tokyo Games “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020, but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community.”

IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese prime minister Abe Shinzo met via phone Tuesday morning, and they, along with a handful of executives from the IOC and Japan’s organizing committee, agreed to make the call.

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4:01 p.m., March 23

Unemployment applications skyrocket

More than 54,000 Hoosiers filed for unemployment benefits last week, as restaurants, hotels and other businesses began shutting down temporarily amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The same week one year ago had only 3,100 people file for unemployment benefits in Indiana.

Gov. Eric Holcomb revealed the number Monday as he ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down through April 7, unless their employees are working from home.

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4:00 p.m., March 23

Stocks sink after Congress stalls on latest rescue package

Stocks are ending another bumpy day broadly lower on Wall Street as investors wait to see if Democrats and Republicans can settle their differences on an economic rescue package.

Major indexes ended down about 3% Monday, having been down as much as 5%.

Earlier, markets got a bump following the latest announcement of support from the Federal Reserve.

The Fed said it would buy as much government debt as needed to help markets operate smoothly and lend money to businesses and local governments, but the gains quickly vanished.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 582 points and fell to 18,593. The S&P 500 sank 67 points, dropping to 2,237.

The Nasdaq had a better day, falling only 0.27%, to 6,860.

2:35 p.m., March 23

State opens call center to field questions about order closing businesses

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration said it will open a call center to field industry questions about an executive order the governor issued Monday that requires non-essential businesses to close, unless their employees are working from home.

The Critical Industries Hotline will open at 9 a.m. Tuesday to help guide businesses and industries that are seeking to comply with the order.

This center is reachable by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing [email protected] and is for business and industry questions only.

For more information, read IBJ’s frequently asked questions about the order.

1:40 p.m., March 23

City’s two largest hotels suspend operations

The two largest hotels in Indianapolis have suspended operations, following more than two weeks of occupancy and staffing struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 1,005-room JW Marriott Indianapolis and 650-room Indianapolis Marriott Downtown closed Monday after they stopped taking reservations late Sunday. Signs posted on the front doors of each building refer guests to the JW-adjacent Fairfield Inn & Suites.

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12:40 p.m., March 23

Community CEO Bryan Mills tests positive for COVID-19

Community Health Network announced its president and chief executive officer Bryan Mills has tested positive for COVID-19, which is caused by a coronavirus wreaking havoc across the country.

Mills, who was symptomatic and subsequently tested, learned of his diagnosis over the weekend and informed Community’s 16,000 employees in an email Monday.

Community officials said Mills is in quarantine “but still actively involved in leading and planning Community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.” The network said he “continues to participate in meetings remotely, receive updates and lead key decision-making processes. If necessary, there are plans to delegate his responsibilities to other leaders within the organization.”

In the email to employees Mills said, “I am as awed as ever by the dedication of our caregivers, stepping up to the ongoing challenge of this pandemic with compassion, courage, and innovation.”

12:30 p.m., March 23

Holcomb orders enforcement of in-dining prohibition

Gov. Eric Holcomb has ordered state and local boards of health and the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission to take “all available administrative and enforcement actions” against bars and restaurants that continue to offer in-house dining services, in violation of his executive order on March 16.

State officials said departments will first deliver letters to non-compliant restaurants, ordering them to cease such operations. If they do not comply, those official will levy fines.

The ATC will order establishments with alcohol permits that continue to offer in-person dining to stop. If the activity continues, the ATC will suspend the entity’s liquor license and will consider the non-compliance at the time of permit renewal.

12:35 p.m., March 23

Holcomb orders non-essential businesses to close, tells Hoosiers to stay at home

Gov. Eric Holcomb has told non-essential businesses to close and ordered Hoosiers to stay at home—except to buy food or prescriptions, obtain health care, take care of others or go to an essential job—through April 7 in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

The state-at-home order takes effect at 12:59 p.m. Tuesday.

“The next two weeks are critical if we are to slow the spread of COVID-19, and we must slow the spread. You must be part of the solution, not the problem,” Holcomb said.

His executive order allows what are deemed essential businesses and services to continue operating. The state said that includes, but is not limited to, grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, garbage pickup, public transit, and public service hotlines.

Holcomb said non-essential businesses can only remain open if their employees are conducting their work from home. And he limited all gatherings to less than 10 people, down from a limit of 50 that he had previously ordered.

Answers to frequently asked questions about the order can be found here.

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12:30 p.m., March 23

City’s two biggest hotels suspend operations

The two largest hotels in Indianapolis have suspended operations, following more than two weeks of occupancy and staffing struggles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 1,005-room JW Marriott Indianapolis and 650-room Indianapolis Marriott Downtown closed Monday after they stopped taking reservations late Sunday. Signs posted on the front doors of each building refer guests to the JW-adjacent Fairfield Inn & Suites.

The sign on the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown said the hotel would be closed for at least two weeks, and a source told IBJ the JW is likely to be closed for the same amount of time.

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11:49 a.m., March 23

TechPoint postpones annual technology awards program

The Mira Awards—Indiana’s largest and longest-running technology awards program—will be postponed to a yet-to-be-determined date, TechPoint officials told IBJ on Monday.

The 21st annual Mira Awards had been scheduled to take place April 18 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis, and was expected to draw about 1,500 attendees.

“Because the Mira gala is an event where in-person networking can yield so much for the tech community, we are postponing rather than holding the event virtually,” said Mike Langellier, CEO of TechPoint, a not-for-profit industry-led growth accelerator. “We’re working now to confirm a new date later in the year when we can safely gather again.”

The event has grown considerably in the last five years, and last year sold out the JW’s biggest ballroom with 1,400 attendees. In 2016, the event drew 950. In 2018, the event moved from the Westin Indianapolis to the JW to accommodate growth.

The event annually has more than 100 nominees for more than a dozen awards and draws a who’s who in the local tech industry.

10:37 a.m., March 23

Michigan governor to issue stay-at-home order

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will announce a statewide stay-at-home order to curb the spread of the coronavirus, with an exemption for certain workers, a government official told The Associated Press on Monday.

Michigan would join at least eight other states nationally including two of the three states neighboring Indiana: Illinois and Ohio.

The order, which will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, will allow “essential” employees necessary to sustain and protect life to continue going to work, said a high-ranking administration official who had direct knowledge of the measure. The person was not authorized to speak publicly before the Democratic governor’s scheduled 11 a.m. Monday news conference.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has an announcement about the pandemic scheduled for noon Monday but has not disclosed the purpose. Speculation has grown that Indiana might take the same action as Illinois and Ohio.

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10:10 a.m., March 22

Coronavirus cases rise to 259 in state, with 110 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday morning said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 259 after the emergence of 58 more cases.

The department now reports that 1,960 people have been tested. The ISDH said the test number reflects only those tests reported to the department and the numbers should not be characterized as a comprehensive total.

The death toll in the state rose from six to seven from Sunday’s report.

Marion County reported 110 cases with three deaths.

Other area counties with cases are Hendricks (12), Johnson (14), Hamilton (21), Boone (3), Hancock (3), Madison (3) and Shelby (1).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in 40 Indiana counties so far.

As of Friday morning, 35,241 cases had been reported in the United States with 471 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 351,000 cases have been reported globally with 15,374 deaths. More than 100,400 people have recovered.

11:45 p.m., March 22

Allison Transmission tells employees that co-worker has virus

Allison Transmission Holdings Inc. on Sunday notified employees that one of their co-workers was presumed to have COVID-19, WTHR-TV Channel 13 reported.

Company officials said the employee works in Plant 6 near bay location R-81. The plant is on the west side of Indianapolis, north of Michigan Street and west of Holt Road.

According to WTHR, the company said it was still waiting for official test results. No other employees were thought to have had close contact with the employee, so the company has not asked any workers to self-quarantine. The employee hasn’t been on site since Tuesday.

Allison has 2,600 employees in Indiana.

5:50 p.m., March 22

Lilly to launch drive-thru COVID-19 testing for health care workers

Eli Lilly and Co. will begin offering drive-thru testing for COVID-19 on Monday at its Indianapolis headquarters, but the service will be limited for now to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals.

The drugmaker said Sunday afternoon that the general public will not be able to receive tests at this time, and it did not say whether it might broaden the drive-thru service in the future to include non-health care workers.

The announcement came two days after Lilly said it was exploring setting up a drive-thru testing service for the public to take the crunch off hospitals, which are doing the bulk of the testing.

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3:49 p.m., March 22

COVID-19 death toll in state rises to six

The Indiana State Department of Health announced Sunday that two more Hoosiers have died after testing positive for COVID-19, bringing the death toll in the state to six.

Both of the latest victims were adults over 50 with underlying health conditions, the state health department said.

One lived in Marion County, and the other lived in Scott County.

Marion County now has had three deaths. The other COVID-19 victims lived in Johnson County and Howard County.

The state health department said 201 Indiana residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19. All but one are adults.

10:26 a.m., March 22

COVID-19 cases in state continue to surge

The Indiana State Department of Health on Sunday reported that the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 201 after the emergence of 76 more cases, 35 of them in Marion County.

The number of cases has grown day by day as officials conduct more testing. The new-case count was 47 on Saturday, 23 on Friday and 17 on Thursday.

The 76 new cases came from 661 tests conducted by the state health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories. So far, those entities have reported conducting a total of 1,494 tests.

Officials say four people in Indiana—two from Marion County and one each from Delaware and Johnson counties—have died from COVID-19.

5:42 p.m., March 21

Indiana reports fourth COVID-19 death

Indiana health officials said Saturday that a fourth person died from the coronavirus as the state reported 47 new cases amid the pandemic, bringing Indiana’s total count to 126.

The state’s latest death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, was an adult from Delaware County who was over 60 and had been hospitalized, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

Nearly half of the 47 new cases reported Saturday—22—were in Marion County, which now has 46 cases. The growing number of cases come as the virus has spread to Indiana’s largest population centers.

Cases of COVID-19 have now been reported in 34 of Indiana’s 92 counties, with 833 test results reported to the state health department by late Friday. All but one of Indiana’s 126 confirmed cases have been in adults.

Indiana has seen two people die in Marion County and one each in Delaware and Johnson counties.

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12:01 p.m., March 21

Community Health to close MedCheck locations, reallocate resources

Community Health Network announced Saturday that it will close its eight central Indiana MedCheck urgent treatment centers, effective Sunday. The Indianapolis-based hospital network said it is doing so to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to reallocate resources to where they are needed most.

Community said it will relocate MedCheck services to nearby primary care offices. It directed patients to call their doctor’s office for care or to call Community’s triage resource center. For most central Indiana residents, that number is 317-621-5500. Anderson residents should call 765-298-4240, and Kokomo residents should call 765-776-3990.

In addition, Community offers virtual care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at ecommunity.com/virtual care.

10:06 a.m., March 21

State reports 47 more COVID-19 cases, including 22 from Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday reported that the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 126 after the emergence of 47 more cases.

The tally includes cases diagnosed through the state health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories.

Three Hoosiers have died. The state health department reported the latest fatality, an Indianapolis man, on Friday afternoon.

The state health department said 833 people have been tested in the state, including 279 in the last 24 hours.

The new cases include 22 from Marion County, five from Hamilton County, three from Allen County and Clark County, two from Hendricks County and Johnson County and one each for Delaware, Elkhart, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Howard, Lake, LaPorte, Scott and Vigo counties.

The state health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the limited testing so far.

9:13 p.m., March 20

City, Horizon House team to screen, protect homeless from coronavirus

The Hogsett administration plans to distribute 15 hand-washing stations downtown and as part of a larger effort to try to protect the city’s homeless population from contracting and spreading COVID-19.

The city said it is working with Horizon House, which is training its outreach workers to screen homeless people who are living in encampments and other non-shelter locations for COVID-19, in addition to providing them with hygiene kits, food kits, blankets and crisis support.

“In many ways, our community is facing unprecedented challenges that affect every resident in Indianapolis,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “But with circumstances that are continually evolving, we must ensure that we are continually prioritizing our city’s most vulnerable residents.”

The city plans to put handwashing stations in a number of locations, including at the Central Library, at the Cathedral Kitchen parking lot, on Georgia Street outside St. John’s Catholic Church and at University Park.

Beginning Monday, Horizon House Center will also be providing COVID-19 screenings and providing walk-thru services.

8:24 p.m., March 2o

BMO Plaza worker has COVID-19, landlord says

The 28-story BMO Plaza office tower downtown informed tenants on Friday that an employee of one of the companies in the building has a confirmed case of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

In an email to tenants, the building manager did not identify the tenant but said it was below the 18th floor. It said the employee has not been in the building since March 12.

The building manager who sent the email referred questions to Jacqueline Trost, a vice president of Detroit-based REDICO, which is part of a group that bought the 444,644-square-foot tower in 2018. In an emailed statement, Trost said: “The safety of our tenants, visitors and guests is very important to us,” noting that the company is following prevention guidelines recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has shared those with tenants.

BMO Plaza, 135 N. Pennsylvania St., was built in 1986. It has dozens of tenants, including BMO Harris, the U.S. Department of Defense, Aprimo, Quarles & Brady, Rubin & Levin and HWC Engineering.

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4:55 p.m., March 20

Indiana has third coronavirus death

An Indianapolis resident on Friday become the third Hoosier to be killed after contracting COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus.

The Indiana State Department of Health patient was an adult over age 60 who had been hospitalized.

It’s the second Marion County resident who has died from the illness. A Johnson County resident has also died.

“Losing a loved one is devastating, and it’s troubling to see the toll that COVID-19 is taking on elderly residents here in Indiana and across the country,” said Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, in a statement. “I implore Hoosiers to continue to stay home if they’re sick and practice social distancing so that we can halt the spread of this virus and protect the most vulnerable among us.”

The state reported 23 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing to 79 the number of Hoosiers diagnosed through the health department, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and private laboratories. All but one are adults.

The health department reported Friday morning that 554 people have been tested, up from 380 the previous day. Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

4:50 p.m., March 20

Cummins temporarily shutters Bartholomew County plant

Columbus-based engine maker Cummins Inc. has suspended production at its Walesboro engine plant in Bartholomew County for the next two weeks, the company announced Friday afternoon. Employees will continue to receive full pay during the shutdown, the company said.

Cummins said the production suspension, which took effect Friday, was in response to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ decision to shut down its pickup truck assembly until at least the end of March. Fiat Chrysler is a Cummins customer.

“While the company is not announcing any other production suspensions or plant shutdowns at this time, the company cannot predict if and when further suspensions or shutdowns may arise,” Cummins said in a prepared statement.

The company cited changes in customer demand, shortfalls in supplier deliveries and government regulations or mandates as possible factors that could lead to additional shutdowns.

Cummins also said it was withdrawing its previously issued 2020 financial guidance because of “growing uncertainty about demand for the remainder of 2020.”

When Cummins issued its 2020 guidance Feb. 4, it said it expected its full-year revenue to decline between 8% and 12%. That guidance “did not factor in the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” the company said.

Cummins Chairman and CEO Tom Linebarger said in a prepared statement that the company is in a strong financial position and has experienced leadership, “and we will successfully navigate through this difficult period.”

4:45 p.m, March 20

KAR suspends auto auctions

KAR Global is suspending its physical automobile auctions across North America for two weeks, according to a disclosure filed Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Carmel-based auction company announced it is halting all physical and simulcast-only sales at its 73 ADESA locations in the U.S. and Canada. The company is maintaining “minimal” operations for security purposes and to receive and release vehicles under certain circumstances.

The company’s digital marketplaces will remain operational during that time, with support from a remote workforce.

“We believe this is a temporary safety measure, and that our balance sheet, including our cash position, is strong and we are well positioned to sustain our business and navigate the uncertainty for the foreseeable future,” the filing reads.

Gene Rodriguez, a spokesperson for KAR Global, declined to answer questions about what will happen to employees.

4:40 p.m., March 20

Illinois governor orders residents to stay in their homes

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Friday ordered all state residents to remain in their homes except for essentials, joining similar dramatic efforts in California and New York to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Pritzker’s order, which takes effect Saturday, still allows the state’s 12.6 million residents to seek essentials including groceries and medicine.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday is not ready to order Hoosiers to stay home.

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4:20 p.m., March 20

Dow drops more than 900 points

The Dow Jones industrial average dropped more than 900 points Friday, extending its weekly loss to 17%.

The S&P 500 dropped 4.3% and the NASDAQ slid 3.8%.

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4:12 p.m., March 20

Walmart to hire 2,000 employees in Indiana to meet growing demand

Walmart said Friday it will hire 150,000 workers nationwide—including 2,000 in Indiana—to meet increasing demand in its stores.

The new employees will work in stores, clubs, distribution centers and fulfillment centers.

The announcement comes one day after Walmart said it would more more than $365 million in case bonuses to hourly workers on April 2. To be eligible, employees must have been on staff on March 1. The company said it will also acclerate a second quarter bonus, with plans to pay an additional $180 million to employees.

4 p.m., March 20

Local fund raises money Broad Ripple businesses, service employees

Thousands of dollars have poured in to Broad Ripple in recent days through a new fund aimed at helping retail shops and restaurants—and their employees—that had to alter their business strategies because of COVID-19.

The ‘Rona Relief Fund (a shorthand nod to the coronavirus) has raised at least $9,450 since its launch Friday morning. The Broad Ripple Village Association-managed fund allows individuals and businesses to nominate themselves or others as recipients.

The pool of money will be split evenly, between $100 checks for service employees in need and gift cards bought from the area’s restaurants and retailers. The purchase of gift cards has been recommended nationwide as a means to support small businesses, because it provides revenue for businesses immediately, while allowing customers to cash in later on.

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3:28 p.m., March 20

Sahm’s turns downtown cafeteria into temporary meal delivery space

Fishers-based Sahm’s Restaurant Group has teamed with OneAmerica Financial Partners Inc. and the not-for-profit food relief organization Second Helpings to launch a meal-preparation operation at OneAmerica’s downtown Indianapolis headquarters.

Sahm’s, which operates 15 local restaurants and brewpubs, has converted its Sahm’s Cafeteria inside OneAmerica Tower into a space to prepare and deliver meals to local seniors and families in need. The first deliveries happened on Friday.

OneAmerica said it has provided a grant to help fund the effort and Sahm’s is using the food it already had on hand at its restaurants. OneAmerica declined to disclose how much it has donated to the cause.

Organizers are also seeking outside contributions, including donations of food-packaging materials.

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2:59 p.m., March 20

IU joins other colleges in canceling commencement

Indiana University on Friday announced it was calling off its spring commencement ceremonies in May because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

President Michael McRobbie said all IU graduates will be able to participate in a future IU commencement ceremony when the public health situation allows.

“Commencement is a seminal moment for our graduates and their families,” he said in a letter. “Today’s announcement is truly only a postponement of the moment that has been so richly earned.”

The change of plans does not affect the timing and awarding of IU degrees. All IU degrees will continue to be awarded when earned, IU said.

IU joins Purdue, Butler and Indiana State University in canceling spring ceremonies.

11:45 a.m., March 20

Indiana postpones primary election to June 2

Indiana’s primary election is being postponed from May 5 to June 2 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials announced Friday morning.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, Secretary of State Connie Lawson, Republican Party Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Party Chairman John Zody announced the agreement.

Holcomb, a Republican, said he believes it is the first time in the state’s history that an election day has been rescheduled. He signed the executive order changing the date Friday.

“My plea and my hope is that we all understand the gravity of what is surrounding us,” Holcomb said. “The more people who are practicing what we’re preaching, the faster we’ll get through this.”

All dates corresponding with the primary election will be moved by 28 days to reflect the shift. For example, military and overseas ballots were required to be mailed 45 days prior to the primary election, so that deadline, which is already passed, is being moved 45 days prior to June 2.

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11:06 a.m., March 20

Noblesville latest city to beef up restrictions

Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen has joined mayors in Fishers and Carmel in issuing an executive order to enforce restrictions and reduce the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Jensen announced Friday that residents are being asked to avoid unnecessary travel, self-quarantine when appropriate and work from home when possible. Similar restrictions were implemented in Carmel and Fishers earlier this week.

“Issuing an executive order allows us to communicate clear parameters and enforce restrictions on door-to-door solicitations as well as close city buildings including public safety buildings, except in the case of emergencies in an effort to mitigate person-to-person contact,” Jensen said in a written statement.

In addition to those restrictions, Noblesville City Court has been suspended until May 2020.

10:52 a.m., March 20

Cake Bake Shop lays off 170 employees

The Cake Bake Shop, which has locations in Broad Ripple and Carmel, has laid off most of its employees, but the business itself remains open.

In Facebook posts, owner Gwendolyn Rogers said she was forced to lay off 170 of her 188 employees because of the current pandemic-related prohibition on in-house dining. The business is still operating on a carry-out and delivery basis.

“I am working with my banks, my insurance company, my accountant and the government to try and create some sort of relief support for my team,” Rogers wrote in a post Thursday. Rogers also said the restaurant’s two locations are accepting tips that will be distributed among the affected employees.

The Cake Bake Shop offers cakes, pies and other desserts as well as a menu that includes soups, salads and sandwiches. Rogers’ first shop opened in Broad Ripple in 2014. The Carmel location opened last year. The business has developed a national following, helped by major celebrity endorsements.

10:28 a.m., March 20

Number of confirmed cases in state rises to 79

The Indiana State Department of Health on Friday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 79 after the emergence of 23 more cases.

The department now reports that 554 people have been tested, up from 380 the previous day.

The death toll in the state remained at two.

Six more cases were diagnosed in Marion County, bringing the total to 25.

Other area counties with cases are Hendricks (4), Johnson (4), Hamilton (5), Boone (2), Madison (1) and Shelby (1).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in 27 Indiana counties so far.

As of Friday morning, 14,250 cases had been reported in the United States with 205 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 246,400 cases have been reported globally with 10,038 deaths. More than 86,000 people have recovered.

7 p.m., March 19

Cambria lays off workers in Noblesville, Westfield

Ceres Enterprises, the Ohio-based operator of Cambria hotels in Noblesville and Westfield, is laying off 65 employees in Indiana due to the spread of the new coronavirus.

The hotel management company issued a notice to the state Wednesday saying it had already started the process of laying off much of its staff at both hotels—which remain open and operating. Affected positions include sales, front desk, kitchen, maintenance and housekeeping.

The hotels are operating on a skeleton crew of about 15-20 people across both hotels.

“We anticipate to return our staff to employment as soon as possible,” Deborah Nigro, human resources manager for Ceres Enterprises, said in a written statement.

When contacted by phone, representatives from Ceres Enterprises declined to comment and would not provide the total number of staff at each hotel.

Westfield’s Cambria Hotel was built in 2017 as part of Grand Park Village, across from the city’s Grand Park sports campus. For the past two years, the Indianapolis Colts have used the 152-room hotel at 18592 Carousel Lane during training camp at Grand Park.

In Noblesville, the 130-room Cambria Suites at 13500 Tegler Drive, just Interstate 65 at Exit 210, opened in 2009.

4:30 p.m., March 19

Dow pulls itself back above 20,000, rises 1% in choppy trading

U.S. markets remain testy as the Dow Jones industrial average Thursday extended its streak of 1,000-point swings to nine sessions. The blue chips clawed into the plus column—rising nearly 1% on the day—as investors digested various government formulas aimed at limiting the economic damage from the coronavirus.

The Dow rose 188 points, or 0.95%, to close at 20,087. Other major indexes also advanced, with the S&P 500 climbing 11 points, or 0.47%, to close at 2,409, and the Nasdaq Composite jumping 160 points, or 2.3%, to close at 7,151.

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4 p.m., March 19

Holcomb supports delaying primary

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Thursday he supports delaying the state’s May 5 primary as part of Indiana’s larger response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he said the decision will be up to Secretary of State Connie Lawson.

Holcomb, a Republican, said he’s concerned about the safety of poll workers, voters and all the people involved in making an election run smoothly. And he said he’s talking about the possibility with Lawson, a Republican whose office includes the Indiana Election Division, which works with counties to administer elections.

Lawson’s office did not immediately respond to messages from IBJ.

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3:55 p.m., March 19

Remainder of Indiana high school basketball tournament called off

The Indiana High School Athletic Association announced Thursday that the remainder of this year’s boys basketball state tournament has been canceled.

The IHSAA said it made the decision after Gov. Eric Holcomb directed all state public schools to remain closed during the pandemic until May 1.

On March 13, the IHSAA announced the remaining games of the state tournament would be postponed. It also considered a plan to play the games with only participants, officials and direct family members in attendance.

1:20 p.m., March 19

Schools to stay closed statewide until at least May 1

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed executive orders Thursday that extend the closure of schools and take other steps to deal with the pandemic.

All K-12 public schools will remain closed until May 1, the governor said. And non-public schools were also ordered closed. He said the date might be extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school year if circumstances warrant.

The governor also extended the current state of emergency an additional 30 days when it expires on April 5.

In addition, the state will align with the federal government to delay state income tax payments from April 15 to July 15. The U.S. Treasury extended the deadline to pay federal income tax by 90 days.

And penalties will be waived for 60 days for property tax paid after May 11. The state said it will work with counties that may experience cash flow stress because of the delay.

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12:41 p.m., March 19

Subaru to suspend Indiana operations for one week

Subaru of Indiana Automotive will suspend production at its Lafayette plant next week “to further ensure the health and safety of associates and to adjust volume for market demand as a result of COVID-19,” the company announced Thursday.

Employees will receive full pay during the March 23-29 shutdown, the company said.

More than 6,000 people work at the facility, which produces about 410,000 vehicles each year.

11 a.m., March 19

Treasury chief: Family of 4 could get $3K under virus relief plan

The first federal checks to families could be $3,000 for a family of four under the White House proposal to unleash $1 trillion to shore up households and the U.S. economy amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the “checks in the mail” would be direct deposited into people’s accounts under the plan the Trump administration has proposed to Congress.

The payments would be $1,000 per adult and $500 per child so that a family of two parents and two children would receive $3,000, Mnuchin told Fox Business Network. The goal is to get that money out in three weeks, he said.

He said such families would receive another $3,000 six weeks later if the national emergency still exists. Officials have previously said the money is expected to be allocated by income level, to exclude the super-wealthy.

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10:25 a.m., March 19

Number of confirmed cases in state rises to 56

The Indiana State Department of Health on Thursday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 56 after the emergence of 17 more cases.

Testing rose dramatically in the past day, from 193 to 380.

The death toll in the state remained at two.

Ten more cases were diagnosed in Marion County, bringing the total to 19.

Other area counties with cases are Hendricks (4), Johnson (3), Hamilton (2), Boone (1) and Madison (1).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in 22 Indiana counties so far.

As of Thursday morning, 9,415 cases had been reported in the United States with 150 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 222,600 cases have been reported globally with 9,115 deaths. More than 84,500 people have recovered.

9:04 a.m., March 19

SBA makes emergency loans available statewide to help businesses survive outbreak

The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved low-interest federal disaster loans in Indiana to provide working capital for businesses struggling during the coronavirus outbreak.

The assistance will be available statewide and in numerous border counties in surrounding states. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act signed by President Trump authorized the SBA to offer an additional $50 billion in loans nationally to help small businesses during the pandemic.

Indiana became eligible for the SBA assistance after Gov. Eric Holcomb requested a disaster declaration for the state on Tuesday.

The loans are available to small businesses, private not-for-profit organizations of any size, small agricultural cooperatives and small aquaculture enterprises “that have been financially impacted as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) since Jan. 31, 2020,” the SBA said.

The interest rate for the loans is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for private not-for-profit organizations, with terms up to 30 years. Applicants may apply or learn more online.

In anticipation of the loans being offered, the Indy Chamber launched a Rapid Response Hub on Monday to direct small business owners to various resources.

8:05 a.m., March 19

State’s largest hotels consider closing

The owners of the 1,005-room JW Marriott Indianapolis and the 650-room Indianapolis Marriott Downtown are considering closing their doors temporarily as occupancy falls at hotels across the country into the single digits.

Bruce White, chairman of White Lodging, which owns the JW Marriott, told IBJ no final decision has been made. But he said “when you have occupancies of less than 5%, [closing] is certainly something that any owner would need to consider.”

Mike Wells, president of REI Investments, which co-owns the Indianapolis Marriott Downtown with White Lodging, said the  situation is unlikely to change until the government again encourages citizens to move freely. He said he thinks other hotels also are considering closing.

The decisions by local hoteliers comes as the French Lick Resort announced it would close and at least two downtown Chicago hotels said they would close in response to the pandemic.

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7:50 a.m., March 19

Hospitality group asks Holcomb to defer restaurant, hotel taxes

The Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association on Wednesday sent a letter to Gov. Eric Holcomb and state legislative leaders asking them to consider deferring taxes on the restaurant and lodging industries for the next year.

Businesses still would be on the hook for taxes they owe they year but would be able to pay them one calendar year later interest-free. They would apply to personal and real property taxes, state and local sales taxes, and innkeeper’s and food and beverage taxes.

The proposed real and personal property deferral would go into effect April 1, while the sales-related tax deferral would apply immediately. 

The measures are among several the group said might help soften the blow to tourism- and dining-focused businesses across the state—particularly in larger cities like Indianapolis.

Total spending nationally on transportation, retail, lodging and restaurants is expected to drop by $355 billion this year, or 31 percent, leading to the loss of 4.6 million jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

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2 a.m., March 19

Trump signs $100B rescue bill while proposing $1 trillion plan to stabilize economy

By a sweeping bipartisan tally, the Senate approved a $100 billion-plus bill to boost testing for the coronavirus and guarantee paid sick leave for millions of workers hit by it — and President Donald Trump quickly signed it.

By the time the measure became law Wednesday, the White House and lawmakers had already turned their focus to the administration’s far bigger $1 trillion plan to stabilize the economy as the pandemic threatens financial ruin for individuals and businesses.

Details on Trump’s economic rescue plan remain sparse—and it’s sure to grow with lawmaker add-ons—but its centerpiece is to dedicate $500 billion to start issuing direct payments to Americans by early next month. It would also funnel cash to businesses to help keep workers on payroll as widespread sectors of the $21 trillion U.S. economy all but shut down.

In a memorandum, the Treasury Department proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: a first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.

The Treasury plan, which requires approval by Congress, also recommends $50 billion to stabilize the airlines, $150 billion to issue loan guarantees to other struggling sectors, and $300 billion for small businesses. The plan appears to anticipate that many of the loans would not be repaid.

Taken together, the administration plan promises half of the $1 trillion to families and individuals, with the other half used to prop up businesses and keep employees on payroll.

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Hogsett, Osili pledge steps to increase absentee voting in primary

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and City-County Council President Vop Osili announced Wednesday that the city intends to mail all registered voters in Marion County an absentee ballot application well before the planned May 5 primary election.

Because in-person voting during the primary could be hindered by public health restrictions, Hogsett said he felt it was important to provide citizens an alternative way to vote.

“Our top priority as public officials continues to be the protection of our residents from the threat associated with the COVID-19 outbreak,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a written statement. “We are also mindful of our obligation to ensure that voters are able to freely and safely exercise their rights, and we are committed to pursuing changes that will allow all registered voters to cast a ballot this year.”

Osili said supports the measure and said he will work with the Democrat-controlled City-County Council to secure sufficient funding to cover the cost of postage for all registered voters who choose to vote by mail.

The mailings will also include instruction on how to vote by mail.

Guidance will be issued in coming weeks as to when voters can expect absentee ballot applications to arrive. Voters are encouraged to update their voter registrations as soon as possible in order to ensure they receive an application at their current residence.

7:59 p.m., March 18

All Indiana public schools now closed to on-site classes

All public schools across Indiana are now closed to students, and at least one district will not to resume in-person classes this academic year in an attempt to slow the coronavirus spread, officials said Wednesday.

Most of Indiana’s public school districts had shut down or switched to online classwork by Monday, but the governor’s office said Wednesday that all have now done so.

The South Dearborn Community Schools in southeastern Indiana said Wednesday it would conduct all classes online for rest of this school year. That decision was made “in the best interest for the health and safety of our students, staff, and community,” district Superintendent Eric Lows said in a message posted to its website.

7:45 p.m., March 18

Simon Property shuts down all its shopping malls

Simon Property Group, the world’s largest shopping mall owner, closed its retail properties Wednesday night and plans to leave them closed until March 29.

The Indianapolis-based company said Wednesday that it made the decision “after after extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19.”

Simon owns or has a stake in more than 200 retail properties in the United States, including local centers Castleton Square, Greenwood Park, Fashion Mall at Keystone, Hamilton Town Center and Circle Centre.

Simon shares slid 23.7% on Wednesday afternoon, to $45.90 each, amid another tough day for the stock market, but we’re up 5.7% in after-hours trading.

3:06 p.m., March 18

Pharma giant Lilly to help Indiana health officials with COVID-19 testing

Indianapolis-based pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Co. announced Wednesday that its scientists are working with the Indiana State Department of Health to speed up analysis of COVID-19 tests collected in the state.

State officials have taken sharp criticism in the last week for the slow pace of testing. Through Tuesday, the department of health had conducted 193 tests, out of which 39 were presumed positive.

In the state of New York, about 10,000 people had been tested as of Tuesday morning.

Lilly officials said its scientists will use company research laboratories to analyze samples taken in Indiana health care facilities, including nursing homes and emergency rooms.

Lilly said it expected to ramp up capacity quickly, making about 1,000 tests a day available here within a week, and eventually up to a peak of 2,000 tests a day, depending on the availability of chemicals, called reagents, which are used in the testing process.

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12:54 p.m., March 18

HUD to pause evictions

President Donald Trump said the Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April as a growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.

The HUD news came as the president announced a larger group of initiatives to try to help the country address and cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

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12:24 p.m., March 18

Chamber, mayor urge small firms to be ready for relief requests

The Indy Chamber and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett are urging small businesses to start to prepare now for anticipated federal disaster relief.

Hogsett and Indy Chamber President and CEO Michael Huber told reporters Wednesday morning that they’re expecting the state to be approved for federal aid through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, and they want businesses to be ready to apply for it as soon as possible.

“My message to all of our suffering small businesses is simple: Use this time to prepare all documentation you’ll need to quickly apply for this federal relief,” Hogsett said.

The Indy Chamber launched the Rapid Response Hub on Monday to direct small business owners to various resources and answer questions they may have. Huber said many questions involve whether or not a business can remain open. The hub is also connecting businesses to various online coaches from the IU Kelley School of Business who can help with the loan application process.

“We are making more and more resources available for business coaching, potential small business loan coaching and resourcing,” Huber said.

10:27 p.m., March 18

Number of confirmed cases in state rises to 39

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 39 after the emergence of nine more cases.

The death toll in the state remained at two.

Two more cases were diagnosed in Marion County, bringing the total to nine.

Two cases were reported in Hamilton County. The city of Noblesville issued a written statement Wednesday morning announcing the city’s first case, but then retracted it a short time later.

Other area counties with cases are Hendricks (4), Johnson (3), Boone (1) and Madison (1).

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

The department said it had tested 193 Hoosiers for the virus, up from 159 the previous day.

Health officials say Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the limited number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in 19 Indiana counties so far.

As of Wednesday morning, 6,519 cases had been reported in the United States with 115 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 204,200 cases have been reported globally with 8,246 deaths.

11:55 p.m., March 17

Grocers go on hiring spree to meet demand during outbreak

While many businesses will be forced to make cutbacks to survive the COVID-19 outbreak, major players in the grocery industry are ramping up hiring to keep up with a period of major demand on the food-supply chain.

Kroger Co., the nation’s largest grocer, on Tuesday said it had immediate openings in a number of areas, including in stores as cashiers and pickup members or in manufacturing plants and distribution centers.

“The positions may be perfect for people whose current jobs have been suspended by the coronavirus crisis,” Kroger said. “Every role will help us keep our stores stocked with fresh, affordable food and other essentials.”

Regional grocer Meijer on Tuesday also said it was hiring seasonal workers to meet demand. Walmart and Costco also are among those hiring.

5:52 p.m., March 17

Purdue joins other schools in calling off commencement

Purdue University on Tuesday announced it was calling off its spring commencement ceremonies in May because of the COVID-19 outbreak. Purdue said it was organizing a virtual graduation ceremony or it would try to offer graduates opportunities to participate in future ceremonies.

Purdue joins Butler University and Indiana State University as Indiana colleges who have canceled spring ceremonies. Others are considering it.

5:34 p.m., March 17

Gleaners raises enough to meet Irsay’s $1M challenge

In less than 24 hours, Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana has raised more than $200,000, the amount needed to receive a matching donation of $1 million from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay.

Irsay announced Monday that he would give the organization $1 million to help provide food to the hungry during the pandemic if the community first donated $200,000.

On Tuesday afternoon, Gleaners announced it had already exceeded that goal.

“This overwhelming response exceeded our expectations,” Gleaners President and CEO John Elliott said in a written statement. “We were confident we would achieve the goal, but did not expect to do so in less than 24 hours.”

4:07 p.m., March 17

ISO calls off performances for two more months

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, which already canceled this month’s performances, now plans to call off all events through May 27 because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it announced Tuesday.

In addition to three concerts in March on six dates, the ISO is canceling eight concerts in April and May covering 16 dates.

Those with tickets can donate the money spent on them to the ISO by not seeking a refund. Or they can exchange tickets for any concert remaining in the current ISO subscription season (ending June 13) or the summer Bank of America Film Series. Tickets also can be exchanged for gift certificates to be used for any ISO ticket purchase in the next 5 years

Exchanges can be made through June 13.

1:50 p.m., March 17

City to designate parking spots for takeout food

Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indianapolis Department of Public Works announced Tuesday special parking meter accommodations that aim to make it easier for residents to get takeout food from restaurants affected by COVID-19 restrictions. The city will temporarily designate up to two parking meter spaces in front of any local restaurant that requests “Carry-Out Parking Only” signage.

Restaurant owners looking to request signage should email their business name, owner name, contact information, parking zone, and restaurant location to [email protected]. Signage will be placed as soon as possible, given the volume of requests.

The move comes after the Marion County Public Health Department on Monday ordered restaurants to stop serving food to dine-in customers. The order stands through April 5.

“As a community, we are implementing measures that prioritize the health of our residents,” Mayor Joe Hogsett said in written comments. “It is my hope that this initiative will not only make it easier for residents to stop into a local establishment to pick up lunch or dinner but save them a few dollars that can be spent helping those working in the service industry.”

12:48 p.m., March 17

Archdiocese of Indianapolis cancels masses

Effective Wednesday, the five Catholic bishops of Indiana have suspended Sunday and weekday masses until further notice for the dioceses of Indianapolis, Gary, Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend and Lafayette, according to an announcement on the website for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The decision was made “in light of new information and recommendations from health officials concerning the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgency to stem the spread of the virus,” the brief statement said.

12:28 p.m., March 17

Funeral businesses put limits on services, visitations

One of the city’s largest funeral service providers in Indiana is implementing restrictions to lessen the size of groups attending services during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Flanner Buchanan, along with associated companies Legacy Cremation & Funeral Services and Lavenia & Summers, said they are limiting visitation and funeral services to immediate family and invited friends only.

The businesses said they are following guidelines from government and health authorities to limit the size of gatherings.

Flanner Buchanan, founded in 1881, has 13 locations in central Indiana. The company said it is offering streaming services at no extra charge so services can be viewed at home.

10:55 a.m., March 17

Indiana reports second death from COVID-19

A Johnson County patient who had been hospitalized has died from COVID-19.

It is the second death in Indiana. On Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the state’s first death.

Both patients were over 60 years old. The state said no additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws.

The health department also reported six new positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 30. There are two new cases in Lake County, two in Franklin County and two in Marion County.

The health department’s report includes results from tests performed at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through a private laboratory. Only 159 tests have been administered so far. Health officials say the Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly thousands more—than those indicated by the limited number of tests.

Cases have been confirmed in 15 Indiana counties so far. Marion County has the most cases, with nine.

As of Tuesday morning, 4,661 cases had been reported in the United States with 85 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine. Washington state has seen 48 deaths.
More than 185,000 cases have been reported globally with 7,330 deaths. John Hopkins said more than 80,200 people have recovered from the virus.

12:35 a.m., March 17

Irsay announces $1M challenge to raise funds for food bank

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay on Monday announced he would donate $1 million to Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana to help provide food to the hungry during the pandemic if the community first donates $200,000.

Irsay said he was issuing the challenge in response to COVID-19 and its impact on children and families. Donations are being accepted at givergy.us/gleaners.

10:35 p.m., March 16

FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic closes until April 20

FACE Low-Cost Animal Clinic announced Monday it is closing and temporarily suspending services immediately. The state’s largest low-cost, high-volume provider of basic veterinary care said it intends to reopen with limited services on April 20.

“After reviewing the recommendations put forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Veterinary Medical Association, as well as the actions of school systems, public health departments, and our local, state and federal officials, we are taking these measures to ensure the well-being and safety of our clients, employees, volunteers, and community,” said Jen Hancock, executive director of FACE, in a written statement. “Furthermore, we want to support our partners in human health care by ensuring they have access to the critical medical supplies they need.”

FACE performed 10,461 spay-neuter surgeries in 2019.

6:23 p.m., March 16

The Dow take another nosedive

The Dow Jones industrial average took a 2,997-point nosedive on Monday as fears deepened that the coronavirus outbreak will throw the global economy into recession.

Even for a market beset by volatility in recent weeks, the losses were staggering. The 12.9% drop in the Dow was its worst since 1987. The S&P 500 and the NASDAQ also dropped 12%.

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6:15 p.m., March 16

Purdue extends online classes through end of semester

Purdue University is extending remote learning through the end of the year, meaning students won’t be returning to campus for in-person classes.

On March 10, Purdue University announced that it would temporarily move its classes online, with the goal of having students eventually return to the university before the end of the school year.

But Purdue, like Indiana University earlier Monday, has opted to finish the Spring 2020 semester using online classes.

“We had wanted to preserve the slim hope of a return to in-person instruction, but evolving circumstances and scientific guidance make it clear that no such resumption would be responsible,” President Mitch Daniels said in a letter posted on university’s website. “Our own faculty experts in public health and virology are strongly supportive of this move. And, our faculty and staff will now be better able to plan the remainder of the semester with this decision made.”

Purdue’s residence halls will remain open, although the school urged students who have another place to go to leave.

6:12 p.m., March 16

Fadness tells Fishers residents to limit travel, asks gyms, churches, other venues to close

Fishers Mayor Scott Fadness has declared a local emergency and issued a travel advisory watch for the next seven days that urges residents to eliminate any unnecessary trips around the city—and he’s encouraging fitness centers, entertainment venues, gyms and places of worship to close.

Fadness acknowledged that he has no authority to shut down those locations, but he said “it is our civic responsibility for all of us to make the right choices and make sacrifices to ensure the long-term safety and sustainability of our community.”

But he said that, by declaring a disaster emergency, he does have the ability to limit travel. He said people in Fishers should only travel for medical attention, to care for others for whom a person is the primary caregiver, to and from mandatory work, and to pick up food, medication, essential household goods and hygiene products.

The restrictions are to begin at 8 a.m. Tuesday and last for one week.

The mayor said the Fishers Police Department and Fishers Fire and Emergency Services will be enforcing Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order requiring restaurants and bars to operate on a carry-out or delivery-only basis.

In addition, he said all Fishers Parks and Recreation facilities and playgrounds will be closed.

2:31 p.m., March 16

Indianapolis Zoo closing with no set reopening date

The Indianapolis Zoo said Monday it will close to the public indefinitely, starting Tuesday.

The decision follows new recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention restricting gatherings to fewer than 50 people.

The zoo said it will continue providing its animals the “same extraordinary level of care during the closure as they do every day.”

Indiana’s state-owned attractions, including the Indiana State Museum, will also be closed starting Tuesday.

2:31 p.m., March 16

Indiana loses first patient to COVID-19

An Indiana COVID-19 patient who was treated at Community Health died on Monday, Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced.

“Sadly, we knew it would happen,” Holcomb said. “We anticipate it will again.”

Dr. Ram Yeleti, chief physician executive at Community Health Network, said the individual was over 60 years old and had health issues. But, he said, the individual “would not have died if not for COVID-19.”

He said the individual’s significant other is also infected, and therefore, the two could not be together. Instead, a Community Health nurse stayed in the room with the individual.

“This is the beginning,” Yeleti said. “This is real.”

Indiana has 24 positive COVID-19 tests. However, state officials have acknowledged there are likely many more cases.

2:15 p.m., March 16

5th District forums postponed

Two candidate forums for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District have been postponed.

The Westfield GOP Club announced Monday morning that it is postponing its forum, which had been expected to take place March 25 at the Westfield High School auditorium, following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s restrictions on large gatherings and Westfield schools closing.

“My goal is to reschedule this in April once social distancing is no longer required and am hoping I will have a clearer picture in the next few weeks,” Westfield GOP President Scott Willis said in an email.

The forum scheduled tonight by Indiana Town Halls has also been called off.

The event was initially scheduled to be at a 350-seat auditorium in Noblesville. Last week, organizers changed the format to be without an audience and livestreamed from WFYI-TV Channel 20’s studio in downtown Indianapolis. Former “Indiana Week in Review” host Jim Shella was expected to moderate, but Shella posted online Monday afternoon that the event had been postponed.

Shella’s announcement came after 5th District GOP candidate Kelly Mitchell said she would not be attending the forum as originally planned due to coronavirus concerns. She called on Indiana Town Halls to reschedule it. It was not immediately clear whether her request impacted the decision.

2:01 p.m., March 16

IndyCar searches for solutions in case Indy 500 must be canceled or postponed

Officials at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the IndyCar racing series are searching for alternatives in case coronavirus restrictions extend into late May.

Sources close to the series said Mark Miles, CEO of Penske Entertainment Group—which owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar Series—and his lieutenants are looking at contingency plans for holding the race this summer or fall.

The Centers for Disease Control has recommended that no gatherings with more than 50 people take place for the next eight weeks. The Indy 500 falls two weeks outside of that time frame. And the first practices fall just outside of it, too. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday directed the state to follow those recommendations.

The GMR Grand Prix is set to run on the Speedway’s road course May 9, which is inside that eight-week period.

“We are aware of the CDC’s interim guidance suggesting the postponement of events involving more than 50 people over the next eight weeks,” IMS and the IndyCar Series said in a statement issued Monday. “Our priority is to do our part in protecting the public health while still conducting the 104th Indianapolis 500 … as scheduled on May 24. This continues to be a dynamic situation which we are monitoring constantly in coordination with federal, state, local and public health officials. We are planning for all contingencies and will be prepared to run the GMR Grand Prix and Indy 500 as the COVID-19 situation permits.”

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1:30 p.m., March 16

Hogsett orders gyms, theaters and more to close; issues travel warning

Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Marion County Public Health Department on Monday issued a series of orders prohibiting all gatherings of 50 or more people and extending closures in Marion County to entertainment venues, gyms and fitness facilities, as well as restaurants and bars.

Hogsett also issued an executive order declaring a local disaster emergency in Marion County and issuing a watch-level travel advisory, which advises against travel except when essential, such as travel to and from work, in emergency situations or to pick up groceries or prescriptions. The order will be in effect for at least seven days, and Hogsett plans to seek permission from the Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday night to extend the order to April 5.

Grocery stores and cafeterias within hospitals and nursing homes will remain open. The Marion County restrictions are stricter than those of the state.

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12:06 p.m., March 16

State agencies ramp up work-from-home options, limits meetings to 10 people or less

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Monday that state government’s 30,000 employees will “maximize the use of remote work” wherever possible and meet virtually when possible while maintaining operations.

State agencies are limiting non-essential, in-person meetings to 10 people or less and employees have been directed to meet virtually whenever possible. High-risk individual should not attend meetings in person.

Employees who work outdoors have been encouraged to practice social distancing, Holcomb said in a statement.

State employees over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions have been advised to work from home.

11:54 a.m., March 16

State museum to close; state parks and inns remain open

The Indiana State Museum and Historic sites, which are closed on Mondays, will close to the public indefinitely beginning Tuesday.

The visitors center at White River State Park will also close.

However, Indiana state parks and recreation centers, including state park inns, will remain open, and their restaurants will covert to take-out and delivery.

11:31 a.m., March 16

Holcomb directs restaurants, bars, nightclubs to close

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday morning announced tighter restrictions on everyday life in the state in hopes of stemming the spread of COVID-19, including the closure of bars, restaurants and nightclubs through the end of March.

He also directed hospitals and other health care facilities to cancel elective and non-urgent surgical procedures immediately. IBJ reported on Sunday night that three major central Indiana hospital systems already were taking steps to do so.

Holcomb said the state would adhere to the latest guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit mass gatherings to no more than 50 people.

The directive on food and entertainment venues came with the caveat that eateries still could provide takeout and delivery service.

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11:10 a.m., March 16

State reports 24 virus cases, with 7 in Marion County

The Indiana State Department of Health on Monday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 in the state has risen to 24, an increase of five cases from Sunday’s report.

No deaths from the virus have been reported.

The health department’s report includes results from tests performed at ISDH, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and through a private laboratory. Only 139 tests have been administered so far. Health officials say the Indiana has far more coronavirus cases—possibly hundreds more—than those indicated by the limited number of tests.

The department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

Thirteen counties have reported cases, with four experiencing multiple cases: Marion (7), Hendricks (3), Johnson (3) and Howard (2).

Indianapolis-area counties with single cases are Boone and Hamilton.

The first positive case of COVID-19 in the state, reported March 6, involved a Marion County resident who traveled to Boston in late February to attend the BioGen conference.

As of 10:53 a.m. Monday, 3,813 cases had been reported in the United States with 69 deaths, according to a running tally maintained by health researchers at Johns Hopkins University & Medicine.

More than 174,786 cases have been reported globally with 6,705 deaths. John Hopkins said more than 77,650 people have recovered from the virus.

9:15 p.m., March 15

Hospitals cancel, restrict non-urgent surgeries

As the threat of the coronavirus sweeps across Indiana, hospitals are beginning to cancel or restrict elective, non-urgent surgeries to make room for a possible influx of patients.

Ascension St. Vincent announced Sunday evening it will be canceling elective surgeries effective Tuesday at its flagship hospital on West 86th Street—the city’s largest hospital, with more than 1,600 beds.

Community Health Network hospitals also are postponing elective procedures unless the physician, in consultation with the hospital’s medical director, determines the patient will face a “life-threatening or life-altering risk” in the next 30 days.

A spokesman for Franciscan Health Indianapolis said on Sunday it is restricting the number of elective cases, but has not yet banned surgeons altogether from performing them.

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9 p.m., March 15

IU extends virtual classes through end of semester; students won’t return to campuses

Indiana University will extend its spring break for one week and then finish the semester with all its classes online, rather than bringing students back in April for in-person instruction as it originally planned.

The change means students will begin virtual instruction on March 30 through the end of the semester.

IU President Michael McRobbie said Sunday night that the rapidly changing coronavirus outbreak makes it “now clear we need to go beyond the actions we have already taken.”

“At this time, we continue to have no confirmed cases on Indiana University campuses,” he said. “But with the anticipated greater availability of test kits in the near future, this could change very quickly.”

The school originally told students and faculty that it planned to suspend in-person classes at all of its campuses for the two weeks following spring break, which was scheduled from March 15 to March 22. Students were to receive instruction remotely from March 23 to April 5 and return to their campuses on April 6.

IU will also close most of its residence halls and on-campus housing on March 20.

8:55 p.m., March 15

CDC recommends gatherings don’t exceed 50 people

In the most extreme effort yet to slow the march of coronavirus in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended late Sunday that events of 50 people or more not be held for about two months.

In addition, the Trump administration announced Sunday that some of the most vulnerable Americans will be able to get tested for the novel coronavirus from their cars starting this week—a significantly less ambitious program than the swift nationwide testing campaign President Donald Trump promised Friday.

In its announcement, the CDC said that for the next eight weeks, organizers should cancel or postpone in-person events of that size throughout the U.S. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.

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7:30 p.m., March 15

Indiana has 20th case, this one in Floyd County

A resident of Floyd County has tested positive for COVID-19 and is being treated at Baptist Health Floyd hospital, Floyd County health officials said Sunday.

Health officials said he attended church, several sporting events and was at Caesars Southern Indiana casino over the past two weeks.

5:25 p.m., March 15

Fed cuts interest rates to nearly zero to combat outbreak

The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook.

The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

The actions are the most drastic steps since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

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4:41 p.m., March 15

Ohio, Illinois close bars, restaurants

Officials in Ohio and Illinois have ordered restaurants and bars to close in the state in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced Sunday that all bars and restaurants around Ohio must close Sunday night at 9 p.m.

In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker has also ordered bars and restaurants shut—starting Monday night and lasting through March 30—although they also will be allowed to remain open for deliveries and pickup orders.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has not ordered any retail closures, although he has restricted gatherings to no more than 250 people.

His spokeswoman, Rachel Hoffmeyer, said that Holcomb “continues to evaluate the situation. We will send out notice of any decisions that are made.”

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2:38 p.m., March 15

Fed’s expert says he’s open to a ‘national shutdown’ to stem virus

The government’s top infectious disease expert said Sunday he would like to see aggressive measures such as a 14-day national shutdown that would require Americans to hunker down even more to help slow spread of the coronavirus.

Still, Dr. Anthony Fauci said travel restrictions within the United States, such as to and from hard-hit Washington state and California, probably will not be needed anytime soon.

Fauci, the public face of the administration’s messaging during a round of morning TV interviews, said the country should do as much as “we possibly could,” even if officials are criticized for “overreacting.” He said he raised the issue of measures such as a shutdown with the Trump administration, and said it has been open to his ideas.

“I think Americans should be prepared that they are going to have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing,” said Fauci, a member of the White House task force on combating the spread of the coronavirus. He heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health

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2:10 p.m., March 15

Kroger latest retailer to restrict hours

Kroger announced that stores in Indiana and four other states in its central division will restrict hours to 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The new hours will apply to Kroger and Pay Less stores.

Kroger is the latest grocery chain to announce restricted hours. Market District and Walmart have similarly restricted hours in an effort to let employees restock shelves and sanitize their stores.

“Our supply chain teams are working tirelessly to ensure that food, medicine and cleaning supplies reach our customers as quickly as possible,” said a Kroger statement. “This schedule change will allow our store teams to focus on stocking the fresh, affordable food and essentials that our customers are looking for when they walk in our stores.  The change will also allow even greater attention to cleaning our stores.”

11:17 a.m., March 15

Simon closes suburban Philadelphia mall

Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group is closing one of the nation’s largest malls, located in suburban Philadelphia, days after Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf said all non-essential retail outlets should close to try to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Simon had initially posted a statement saying that the King of Prussia mall would let individual stores decide whether to stay open. The Philadelphia Enquirer reported that the statement said, “With respect to Gov. Wolf’s statement, the governor did not mandate store closures and did not define what nonessential retail is.”

But on Sunday, the security office of the King of Prussia mall said the mall was closed until further notice. A notice from Simon said nonessential mall tenants were expected to comply “effective immediately” with the governor’s recommendation.

11:00 a.m., March 15

State confirms 4 more cases of COVID-19, including one in Hamilton County

State health officials say 19 people in Indiana have now tested positive for COVID-19—an increase of four cases in the past 24 hours, including the first in Hamilton County.

Three additional cases have also been diagnosed in Marion County. No deaths have been reported.

The following counties have confirmed cases:

Adams: 1

Boone: 1

Hamilton: 1

Hendricks: 2

Howard: 1

Johnson: 3

LaPorte: 1

Marion: 6

Noble: 1

St Joseph: 1

Wells: 1

10:17 p.m. March 14

Walmart to reduce hours starting Sunday

Walmart announced Saturday that it will reduce hours at thousands of its stores—Walmart locations and Neighborhood Market stores—to 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. until further notice.

“This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing,” the store said in a statement posted on its website.

Stores that were already operating on more reduced hours will maintain those hours of operations.

“I don’t think any of us have been through an experience like this,” Walmart U.S.’ chief operating officer, Dacona Smith, said in the statement. “And we continue to be amazed at what our people, whether in the stores or in the supply chain, are doing to make sure customers have what they need.”

7:48 p.m., March 14

Georgia becomes second state to delay primary

Georgia’s March 24 presidential primaries will be postponed to May 19, election officials announced Saturday as cases of coronavirus in the state jumped and Gov. Brian Kemp activated the National Guard and signed an emergency declaration unlocking sweeping powers to fight the disease threat.

In-person early voting, which began statewide March 2, will be halted and the election will be moved to May 19, when Georgia’s other 2020 primary elections are being held, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.

The move comes a day after Louisiana pushed back its primaries. Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed an executive order on Friday delaying the April 4 primary in Louisiana until June 20.

In Indiana, the leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties are calling for more flexibility in how voters can cast ballots on the May 5 primary election but not a date change.

In a joint letter sent Friday to the Indiana Election Commission from Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody, they suggest allowing any registered voter to vote absentee by mail.

Ohio, Florida, Illinois and Arizona are planning to hold primaries on Tuesday, with election officials in those states saying they are taking extra precautions to protect voters.

7:35 p.m., March 14

President Trump’s coronavirus test was negative

Donald Trump’s doctor says the president has tested negative for novel coronavirus.

Trump had held out on testing for days, despite his interactions with at least three people who have since tested positive. Trump had said Friday that he would probably take the test at some point, but the White House doctor said as recently as Friday night that no test was called for because Trump wasn’t exhibiting symptoms.

But on Saturday, the president acknowledged having had a test.

6 p.m., March 14

Indiana casinos to close starting Monday

Indiana’s casinos will be closed for two weeks beginning at 6 a.m. Monday, the state’s racing and gambling regulators announced Saturday.

The closings follow Gov. Eric Holcomb’s directive on Thursday that non-essential gatherings should be limited to no more than 250 people. That has led to a rash of closings or cancellations at theaters, event venues and museums.

The Indiana Gaming Commission and Indiana Horse Racing Commission said they will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation and will provide updates.

1:45 p.m., March 14

IPL, Duke, Citizens defer disconnections for unpaid bills

Indianapolis Power & Light, Duke Energy and Citizens said they are suspending service shutoffs for people with unpaid bills.

IPL said it “recognizes the impact and stress COVID-19 is causing in people’s daily lives.” IPL and Citizens are delaying disconnections until April 15. Duke has not announced a time period.

However, the utilties said customers will ultimately be responsible for paying all charges accrued during the time that shutoffs are deferred.

1:31 p.m., March 14

Trump tested, waiting for results

After days of resistance, President Donald Trump said Saturday that he was tested for the coronavirus as the White House stepped up precautions after his direct and indirect exposures to COVID-19.

Trump also told reporters at a White House briefing that he had his temperature taken before stepping into the room and it was “totally normal.”

Trump had held out on testing for days, despite his interactions with at least three people who have since tested positive. Trump had said Friday that he would probably take the test at some point, but the White House doctor said as recently as Friday night that no test was called for because he wasn’t exhibiting symptoms.

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1:03 p.m., March 14

Market District restricts hours to allow restocking, sanitization

The Market District grocery store in Carmel said Saturday it will begin limiting its hours to give workers time to restock shelves and sanitize the store.

The store will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week. The adjacent GetGo store will mirror the supermarket hours.

Standalone GetGo stores will operate with normal business hours.

“We continue to be amazed by the relentless dedication of our Team Members, and the calmness of so many guests as they visit our busy stores,” said Giant Eagle spokesperson Dan Donovan. “By standardizing opening and closing hours for the time being across our supermarkets, we are putting our store teams in the best position to ensure optimal shopping conditions for our guests each day.”

11 a.m., March 14

Three more people in Indiana test positive, raising total to 15

Three additional people in Indiana have tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Saturday reported a total of 15 cases, up from 12 on Friday. The agency is updating its coronavirus dashboard at 10 a.m. each morning.

The new cases are in Marion, Wells and LaPorte counties. There have now been three positive tests in Marion County.

There have been 2,177 positive tests in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins, which is tracking the virus. There have been 47 deaths and 12 recoveries, according to the dashboard.

State health officials have acknowledged there are more cases in Indiana than have been detected because of limited testing. But Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner, said the problem has not grown to the point that the health care system has seen significant impacts.

“I suspect there’s definitely more cases than we’ve recognized here, but again it’s not a Washington state thing because we don’t have that kind of burden on our health care hospital system right now,” Box said.

7:48 p.m., March 13

Holcomb suspends commercial driver rule to try to stock shelves

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Friday his administration is taking steps to suspend or modify state rules to help individuals and business that are adversely affected by efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Holcomb signed an executive order meant to speed up deliveries to retailers, which are running short of supplies, by lifting regulations on the number of hours that commercial drivers can work.

The exemption will last through April 5.

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6:30 p.m., March 13

White House, House Democrats reach deal on coronavirus economic relief package

The White House and House Democrats reached agreement Friday on a coronavirus relief package to spend tens of billions of dollars on sick leave, unemployment insurance, food stamps and other measures to address the unfolding crisis.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., announced the agreement in a letter to fellow House Democrats. “We are proud to have reached an agreement with the Administration to resolve outstanding challenges, and now will soon pass the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.”

A vote to pass the legislation was expected later Friday in the House, and in the Senate next week.

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6 p.m., March 13

Center for Performing Arts suspends events through April 12

Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts has suspended all performances and events on its campus through mid-April.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a ban on large public gatherings Thursday as a way to control the spread of the coronavirus. In response, the center announced on Friday that it would suspend activities at all of its venues—the Palladium, the Tarkington and the Studio Theater—until April 12.

Performances include those by the Carmel Symphony Orchestra, Central Indiana Dance Ensemble, Civic Theatre, Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and Indiana Wind Symphony.

Educational and rental events at the Center have also been canceled.

A written statement indicated the Center is working to rescheduled events, if possible.

In the meantime, officials with the Center are contacting ticketholders to offer refunds. Ticketholders will also be given the option to donate the balance of their purchase to the presenting organization as a way to help defray costs associated with the cancellation.

16:45 p.m., March 13

Conner Prairie to close through March 30

Conner Prairie in Fishers has announced it will be closed beginning Saturday through March 30.

The living history museum joins The Children’s Museum and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in closing to the public to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. The closure affects all exhibits and scheduled special events.

“While the museum has not had any presumptive or confirmed cases of coronavirus on our grounds, this decision was made with an abundance of caution to protect its members, visitors, staff, volunteers and community,” the museum said in a news release.

Conner Prairie will continue to monitor and re-evaluate the situation during the next two weeks and plans to issue an update on or before March 30 about whether it will reopen at that time.

4:45 p.m., March 13

Democratic, Republican chairmen call for more flexibility in primary voting

The leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties in the state are calling for more flexibility in how voters can cast ballots on the May 5 primary election.

In a joint letter sent Friday to the Indiana Election Commission from Indiana GOP Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody, they suggest allowing any registered voter to vote absentee by mail.

Currently, Indiana voters can vote absentee by mail if they have a disability, are at least 65 years old, are a member of the military or are public safety official, are a “serious sex offender” or have a specific reason they can’t vote on Election Day, such as unavailability of transportation, have to work the entire 12 hours polls are open or are confined due to illness or injury,

Zody and Hupfer say they think the Election Commission should suspend that rule so voters do not need a reason to vote by mail.

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3:04 p.m., March 13

United Way launches $16.5M virus relief fund

A coalition of community organizations led by the United Way of Central Indiana announced Friday the creation of a $16.5 million fund for community economic relief for those affected by COVID-19.

The fund will support human service needs during economic distress associated with the novel coronavirus, which has caused temporary closures of schools, businesses and organizations in Indiana.

The fund was announced Friday afternoon during a press conference.

The fund, called the Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund, received a $15 million donation from Lilly Endowment Inc. and a $500,000 contribution from each of the following: Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana.

The grants will be distributed to human service organizations in Boone, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Marion and Morgan counties.

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2:14 p.m., March 13

Indiana officials say virus cases undercounted due to test shortage

Indiana officials say the state has more coronavirus cases than reported and the number is likely to increase as more testing becomes available.

Through Thursday, Indiana has 12 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including two in Marion County, two in Hendricks County and three in Johnson County. None of the cases have been fatal.

But across the state, people are regularly being denied testing because the Indiana State Department of Health has a limited number of test kits available, which is likely affecting the number of positive cases. The department had tested only 73 people through Thursday.

In Ohio, for example, state officials estimate that more than 100,000 individuals likely have the virus, even though the state has only reported five confirmed cases.

“We’d probably be close to that,” State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said Friday morning when asked about the Ohio figure.

But she said she doesn’t believe the virus has become a widespread problem yet because hospital systems would already be overwhelmed.

“I suspect there’s definitely more cases than we’ve recognized here, but again it’s not a Washington state thing because we don’t have that kind of burden on our health care hospital system right now,” Box said, referencing how the high number of cases in Washington are already causing delays in patient care.

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1:30 p.m., March 13

Marian University, Franklin College cancel in-person classes

Two independent colleges announced Friday they would join the state’s public universities in suspending in-person classes.

Marian University announced on Twitter Friday that from Monday through March 27, it would move to an “alternative instructional delivery model” for most classes. Students were informed that faculty would contact students by 5 p.m. Friday to let them know how their classes would be taught for the next two weeks.

Franklin College in Franklin announced classes would be suspended and that resident halls will close to students Sunday. Distance learning is expected to begin Wednesday through March 27 when spring break begins.

1:30 p.m., March 13

500 Festival cancels events through April 11

The 500 Festival is canceling its events through April 11, including a 10-mile race, a private corporate event and 500 Festival Princess Program outreach.

The not-for-profit organization that plans community events around the Indianapolis 500 race said it is continuing to plan for events after April 11, including the One America Mini Marathon, scheduled for May 2.

“This is an evolving situation and we will continue to monitor it closely while also working in close partnership with local and state officials,” the 500 Festival said in a statement. “At this time, we are proceeding with plans to produce our month of May events.”

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12:59, March 13

Indianapolis Public Library to close over coronavirus concerns

The Indianapolis Public Library will close all of its locations and bookmobile services as of 5 p.m. Saturday, the organization has announced.

The closure also includes cancellation of all library programs inside and outside of library buildings.

Nytes said the library plans to resume normal operating hours on April 6, but it will “continue to assess the situation to determine if a longer closure is warranted.”

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12:37 p.m., March 13

IHSAA boys basketball tournament postponed with no rescheduled date

The Indiana High School Athletic Association has opted to postpone the state’s boys basketball tournament, after first deciding that it could be completed with games played without fans.

The group announced Friday that due to the number of schools closing for several weeks to stem the spread of COVID-19, it would be impossible to complete the tournament as scheduled.

The boys basketball regional games were scheduled for Saturday at 16 sites around the state. Four semistates were scheduled for the following weekend, and the state finals were March 28.

No date has been announced for rescheduling the tournament.

“The association will continue to evaluate the utility of continuing the boys basketball tournament at a later date and will inform our member schools and the public as soon as a definitive decision can be reached,” ISHAA Commissioner Bobby Cox said.

12:11 p.m., March 13

IndyCar series canceling all races before Month of May in Indy

The IndyCar open-wheel racing series is canceling the first four events of its 17-race 2020 season, beginning with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that was set to run Sunday.

The next three events were to be the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, set for April 5; the Acura Grand Prix at Long Beach, set for April 19; and the AutoNation IndyCar Challenge, set for April 26.

“Although we are disappointed to delay the start of this IndyCar season and will miss our incredible fans … the safety of our fans, participants, staff, partners and media will always be our top priority,” a media release from the series said Friday.

The next two events are considered part of the Month of May festivities at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The GMR Grand Prix is set for May 9, and the Indianapolis 500 is set for May 24.

IndyCar is just the latest major sports league or series to cancel or postpone events due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus. The list includes the NBA, NHL, XFL, PGA and the NCAA’s men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.

The decision represents a huge setback for racing mogul Roger Penske, who purchased the struggling series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in January with plans to reinvigorate interest in the series.

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11 a.m., March 13

Children’s Museum, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra close temporarily over virus

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis are joining hundreds of other orchestras, performing arts groups and cultural institutions across the country by suspending operations temporarily during the coronavirus outbreak.

The ISO on Thursday announced it would suspend performances and public events through the end of March. The decision means the cancellation of three concerts scheduled for six dates: The Passion of Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (March 13-14); Ruth Reinhardt Leads the ISO: March 19, 20, 21); and Mendelssohn’s Elijah (March 27).

The Children’s Museum announced plans Friday to close from Saturday, March 14 through March 28.

The museum will postpone the re-opening of Sports Legends Experience. It’s preschool will also close temporarily, and all programs and events that were scheduled to take place through March 28 will be postponed.

The Indiana State Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and the Indiana Museum of Art at Newfields say they are open but closely monitoring the situation.

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8:30 a.m., March 13

Hackers pounce as coronavirus spread triggers work-at-home movement

As businesses increasingly—and in rapid fashion—urge their employees to stay at home to work amid the coronavirus pandemic, another risk to companies is emerging.

Cybersecurity experts warn that cybercriminals are moving in to target people not used to working from home and companies without work-at-home policies or cyber-safety nets.

Tech companies including Facebook, Amazon, LinkedIn, Microsoft, and Google have asked at least some of their employees to work from home amid the outbreak. San Francisco-based Salesforce, which has a major presence in Indianapolis, has asked its California employees to work remotely through March.

“When you have a situation like we’re in now, creating a lot of questions and confusion—and in this case triggering changes in work habits and the way we use technology, hackers are going to find a way to try to exploit the situation, and that’s what’s happening,” said Aaron Pritz, co-founder and CEO of RevealRisk, a Carmel-based firm specializing in cybersecurity. “We’re not saying you should keep coming to the office because of cybersecurity risks. We’re just saying if you make a transition, you have to do your diligence.”

Eli Lilly and Co. this week asked all those employees who could do so to work from home for an indefinite period. And many schools too are moving to a remote educational system.

The trend is likely to become more pronounced locally and nationally in the coming weeks.

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7 a.m., March 13

Thousands of Hoosiers ask about COVID-19 testing, but most get turned away

Across Indiana, people are growing increasingly upset they can’t get tested for COVID-19 to learn whether they are infected.

The main reason: the Indiana State Department of Health has a limited number of test kits and has imposed strict conditions on who is eligible for testing.

As of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, only 64 Hoosiers had been tested—or about 0.00009% of the Indiana population. The tests have resulted in 12 positive cases.

Many local hospitals say they have no test kits on hand and must go along with the state’s guidelines. But that puts them in a difficult position when patients call and insist on being tested.

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1:05 a.m., March 13

Lilly teams with Canadian biotech in race to find treatment for COVID-19

Eli Lilly and Co. is teaming with a Canadian biotech to develop a treatment for COVID-19, the illness spread by novel coronavirus, with a goal of getting an antibody therapy into clinics for human testing within four months.

The Indianapolis-based drugmaker said Thursday that it had entered into a agreement with AbCellera, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, to co-develop antibody products for the treatment and prevent of the disease, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives worldwide.

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9:15 p.m., March 12

Hamilton County schools to close

Districts in Hamilton County announced late Thursday they will close schools into April, with the dates of the closings dependent on the district.

School officials said the decisions were based on Gov. Eric Holcomb’s directive banning events, meetings or other gatherings of more than 250 people.

“We recognize how challenging this situation is for some of our families, students and staff,” said an announcement from Hamilton Southeastern Schools. “This decision was made after consultation with Hamilton County health officials and other Hamilton County schools.”

Hamilton Southeastern will close for students starting Monday and will stay closed through April 2. HSE will use a combination of eLearning and waiver days that Holcomb said Thursday would be available to all schools.

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5:49 p.m., March 12

Hogsett tells police to use summonses—not arrests—for some non-violent crimes

Indianapolis police will issue summonses for defendants to appear in court—rather than arresting them—for crimes that will be charged as non-violent misdemeanors, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday.

The move is mean tot keep inmates out of jail at a time when local officials are seeking to stop the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The city said officers will be allowed to make arrests if they believe they are necessary to protect the public.

Hogsett also said Thursday that:

  • City-County government will begin implementing operational changes designed to protect employees and the public while maintaining basic service. The changes include a ban on non-essential travel by city employees, the transition to work-from-home for employees able to take advantage of city technology, and a push for residents to use online services when possible.
  • The Parks Department has suspended all senior programming and is evaluating other parks programming.
  • The City-County Council will be developing new tools for online engagement to ensure continued access and engagement for public meetings.

Ivy Tech delays semester, postpones in-person teaching

5:36 p.m., March 12

Ivy Tech Community College announced Thursday afternoon that it will be delaying the start of the second eight-week semester of classes until March 23 and will be teaching them virtually or through other alternative methods for their first two weeks.

The semester had been scheduled to start Monday.

The community college is the latest in a long line of Indiana higher education institutions to back away from in-person classes because of concern about the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, Butler University, Ball State University and UIndy all announced they would suspend in-person classes for at least several weeks.

5:20 p.m., March 12

All Marion County public schools to close through April 5

Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Thursday that all of Marion County’s public school districts and charter schools sponsored by the Mayor’s Office will close their doors starting Friday.

Combined with already-planned spring breaks, the schools will remain closed through April 5.

“This decision is made in conversation with all public schools within Marion County, who agree it’s time to take this step out of an abundance of caution,” said Virginia Caine, the director of the Marion County Health Department.

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4:25 p.m., March 12

Dow suffers biggest percentage drop in 33 years

The stock market on Thursday had its biggest drop since the Black Monday crash of 1987 as fears of economic fallout from the coronavirus crisis deepened.

The Dow industrials plunged more than 2,300 points, or 10%. The sell-of came despite action from the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank. The steep drops over the last month have wiped out most of the big run-up on Wall Street since President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Markets have turned turbulent amid a cascade of shutdowns across the globe and rising worries that the White House and other authorities around the world can’t or won’t help the weakening economy any time soon.

The S&P 500 shed nearly 261 points, or 9.5%, while the Nasdaq Composite dropped 750, or 9.4%.

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4:21 p.m., March 12

Gov. Holcomb puts limits on social gatherings, makes it easier for schools to close

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Thursday he is limiting social gatherings, including events at churches, stadiums and offices, to less than 250 people in response to the coronavirus.

The announcement says this policy applies to “non-essential gatherings” of people who are in one room or single space at a time and includes professional, social and community gatherings. More guidance is expected to be posted on the Indiana State Department of Health website by the end of the day.

Holcomb is also making it easier for schools to shut down temporarily by giving school corporations a 20-day waiver of the required 180 instructional days, and he has suggested that schools prepare for broad closures and the need for e-learning and remote classroom lessons.

The Department of Education will release more guidance for how schools can obtain the waivers as early as Friday.

Holcomb’s announcement also included guidelines for nursing facilities and child care centers.

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4:20 p.m.. March 12

No March Madness: NCAA calls off basketball tournaments, other sports championships

The National Collegiate Athletic Association on Thursday called off all winter and spring sports championships, including the men’s and women’s Division I basketball tournaments.

“This decision is based on the evolving COVID-19 public health threat, our ability to ensure the events do not contribute to spread of the pandemic, and the impracticality of hosting such events at any time during this academic year given ongoing decisions by other entities,” the Indianapolis-based organization said in a written statement.

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4:19 p.m., March 12

Firefighters postpone massive Indy convention due to COVID-19

The FDIC International convention—which with 35,000 participants is one of the biggest annual tourism events for Indianapolis—has been postponed with no date yet for rescheduling.

The convention for firefighters and other rescue personnel was scheduled to run April 19-25. It typically has an economic impact of nearly $35 million for the city.

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4:06 p.m., March 12

Concert promoter Live Nation, Broadway, Hollywood shutting down over virus

The entertainment industry prepared Thursday for an unprecedented shutdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus, canceling upcoming concerts, movies, suspending all Broadway performances and eliminating live audiences from television shows until it’s safe to welcome crowds back.

Huge national concert promoter Live Nation is instructing its touring shows to prepare to return home, Billboard magazine reported Thursday. The company told employees it will be postponing current touring arena shows through the end of the month.

To accommodate calls for social distancing, Hollywood moved to pause the normal hum of TV productions and the bustle of red-carpet movie premieres. After New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned gatherings of more than 500 people, Broadway theaters announced that they would close immediately and remain dark through April 12.

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4:06 p.m., March 12

Schools in Boone County shut down through at least April 6

Zionsville Community Schools and Lebanon Community Schools on Thursday announced they are closing their schools until at least April 6 because of COVID-19 concerns.

The districts said they will be closed beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday. Classes are canceled for Friday, and students will begin e-learning Monday.

Students will continue with online learning through March 27, when spring break for both districts begins.

The closures includes all activities, rentals, special events and performances.

12:38 p.m., March 12

Fiat Chrysler says a Kokomo worker has tested positive for COVID-19

A Fiat Chrysler Automobiles worker in Kokomo has tested positive for COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus, and is receiving medical care, the company announced.

The Indiana State Health Department confirmed a Howard County case on Thursday morning.

Fiat Chrysler said the employee works at the Kokomo Transmission Plant is currently receiving medical care.

The plant remains open. But the company said in a statement that has “placed into home quarantine [the worker’s] immediate co-workers and others in the facility he may have come into direct contact with.”

“Additionally, the company has deep cleaned and disinfected his working area and is deploying additional sanitation measures across the entire facility, retiming break times to avoid crowding and deploying social spacing,” the company said.

A dozen people in Indiana have now tested positive for the coronavirus.

11:57 a.m., March 12

Big Ten cancels remainder of men’s basketball tournament

The Big Ten Conference announced at midday Thursday that it is canceling the remainder of its men’s basketball tournament, effective immediately, because of concerns about the spread of COVID-19.

The tournament started Wednesday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Fans were present for Wednesday’s games, but the conference that evening announced it would be barring them from the remaining days of the tournament, which was supposed to run through Sunday.

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11:45 a.m., March 12

Statewide student music competition cancels some events

An organization that planned to sponsor student music festivals across Indiana over the next few weeks involving more than 35,000 participants has decided to cancel them.

The Indiana State School Music Association said Thursday that it made the decision in hopes of protecting the young musicians from the spread of COVID-19. Students from more than 300 schools were set to perform at more than 30 school facilities.

The canceled competitions involve junior, middle and elementary school concert groups and the ISSMA State Show Choir and Jazz Finals. The events were set to take place through April 11.

The ISSMA has not yet decided what will happen with some high school events scheduled to take place after April 11, said Executive Director Michael Bridgewater.

A process is being developed to allow participants whose events have been canceled to submit recordings for evaluation, Bridgewater said.

10:55 a.m., March 12

St. Patrick’s Day Parade, canal greening called off

The annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Indianapolis and two other St. Patrick’s Day-related events have been called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The downtown parade had been scheduled to take place for the 40th time on Friday before being called off by the Athletic Club Foundation.

“After consulting with public safety officials and reviewing a great deal of public information, the Foundation determined that it would be in the best interest of the general public and the fans that attend this event to cancel,” the group said Thursday in a statement.

Additionally, the Greening of the Canal event scheduled for Thursday and the Annual Shamrock Run Walk were also canceled.

A tent party sponsored by the Public Safety Foundation that was scheduled to take place during the parade also was nixed.

1 a.m., March 12

Huge volleyball event canceled due to coronavirus scare

Plainfield-based Capitol Sports Center has canceled the Nike Mideast Volleyball Qualifier, which was expected to draw upwards of 38,000 people—including young athletes and their families—to the Indiana Convention Center, Lucas Oil Stadium and the Incrediplex sports center northeast of Lawerence. The event was scheduled for March 20 to 22.

The event was canceled “due to the current health scare throughout the nation,” following discussions between Capitol Sports, governing body USA Volleyball, local and state health departments and the Indiana Convention Center, according to a brief statement on the group’s website.

The event helps determine the national championship bracket for USA Volleyball (age groups 15 Open, 15 Select and 16-18s), while also drawing college scouts from across the country. About 105 courts were expected to be set up throughout the convention center’s exhibit halls and inside Lucas Oil Stadium, while 17 courts would have been used at the Incrediplex.

The Mideast Qualifier was expected to bring $24.8 million into the local economy, as the city hosted hundreds of girls volleyball games. St. Louis was slated to host games this weekend, for separate age brackets, however those competitions were also canceled.

11:10 p.m., March 11

Butler, BSU, UIndy suspending in-person classes

Butler University, Ball State University and UIndy all announced Wednesday that they would suspend in-person classes for at least several weeks in hopes of stemming the spread of COVID-19 among their school communities.

The Indiana schools noted that no cases of the respiratory illness had been reported on their campuses, and they plan to switch instruction from classrooms to online venues. All three schools are incorporating spring break into their plans.

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9:41 p.m., March 11

NBA suspends season after player comes down with virus

The National Basketball Association has suspended its season “until further notice” after a Utah Jazz player tested positive Wednesday for the coronavirus, a move that came only hours after the majority of the league’s owners were leaning toward playing games without fans in arenas.

Now there will be no games at all, at least for the time being. A person with knowledge of the situation said the Jazz player who tested positive was center Rudy Gobert. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither the league nor the team confirmed the presumptive positive test.

A person who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity said the league expects the shutdown to last a minimum of two weeks, but cautioned that time frame is very fluid.

If the season is suspended at least through March, the Indiana Pacers will miss eight games, including five home games. The Pacers were next scheduled to play on the road Saturday in Philadelphia. The team’s next scheduled home game was next Wednesday against Golden State.

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7:14 p.m., March 11

NCAA says it might move regional basketball games out of Lucas Oil

NCAA President Mark Emmert said the NCAA wants to move the men’s Final Four from Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium to a smaller arena in the area.

And it will also will consider using smaller venues for regional sites currently set to be played at the Toyota Center in Houston, Madison Square Garden in New York, Staples Center in Los Angeles and Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“We have to determine the availability of the sites, obviously, but it doesn’t make good sense to have a football stadium be empty,” Emmert said.

All sites for next week’s men’s games will remain the same unless conditions in those areas force relocation, Emmert said.

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7:02 p.m., March 11

Big Ten to ban fans starting Thursday

The Big Ten Conference announced late Wednesday that it will ban fans from its men’s basketball tournament starting Thursday, the second day of action at the Indianapolis event.

The decision came less than two hours after the NCAA said it would play its March Madness games in empty stadiums.

The Big Ten said it will only admit student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams.

In addition, the Big Ten said all winter and spring sport competitions, including championship and tournament events will be limited to the same group of people.

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4:54 p.m., March 11

NCAA to play basketball tourney games without fans

The Indianapolis-based NCAA said Wednesday afternoon it is banning fans from its March Madness men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, explaining that it wants to limit the spread of the COVID-19 illness.

NCAA President Mark Emmert announced the games will be open only to “essential staff and limited family attendance.”

“While I understand how disappointing this is for all fans of our sport, my decision is based on the current understanding of how COVID-19 is progressing in the United States,” he said in written remarks. “This decision is in the best interest of public health, including that of coaches, administrators, fans and mostly importantly, our student-athletes.”

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3:42 p.m., March 11

Park Tudor closing through April 13

Park Tudor School in Indianapolis on Wednesday announced it will be closed through April 13 out of “an abundance of caution” as the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana increases.

The private school posted the update on its website and emailed parents Wednesday afternoon.

The school said there are no known cases of COVID-19 within “the Park Tudor community,” but the school was notified Wednesday that at least three members of its “community” may have been in contact with individuals who have tested positive for the virus.

The school will be closed following dismissal Wednesday until at least April 13. The closure includes an already-scheduled two-week spring break from March 30 to April 10. Beginning March 16, the school will implement e-learning.

“We understand that this is quite disruptive for all of you, as well as for our students,” the notice states. “Please know that we have not made this decision lightly, and it is based on our desire to protect the heath and safety of our entire community from COVID-19, particularly the more vulnerable members of our community.”

2:30 p.m., March 11

Carson cancels Youth Opportunities Fair

Rep. Andre Carson, D-Indianapolis, announced Wednesday that he has decided to cancel his seventh annual Youth Opportunities Fair, which was scheduled for March 16 at the Indianapolis Central Library. Carson said he was doing it “out of an abundance of caution to protect my constituents.”

“This is one of my favorite events of the year, and my staff and I cherish this chance to connect young people with a variety of enrichment activities that can help change lives,” he said in a statement. “But as COVID-19 continues its rapid spread, it’s clear that the health and well-being of friends, neighbors, and colleagues takes precedence.”

1:20 p.m., March 11

Law firm reopens Indy office

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath reopened most of its offices Wednesday, the firm said in a statement, though its Washington, D.C., offices remained closed for monitoring.

The firm had closed all its offices on Tuesday and asked employees to work remotely after someone who visited the Washington office was later diagnosed with COVID-19, which is caused by the coronavirus. commonly known as coronavirus. The firm said it later learned a second person who visited the Washington office was also diagnosed with coronavirus.

“Because the scope of each guest’s contact with firm colleagues was not readily known, and because our attorneys, consultants and professionals have been traveling cross-office to support firm integration efforts, we chose to exercise caution while our leadership team evaluated the situation,” the firm said in announcing the reopening of most offices.

“The health and safety of Faegre Drinker’s colleagues, clients, visitors and their loved ones is a top priority. The firm’s executive leadership team acted quickly to protect those we care about, making time to gather key facts, assess risk and determine appropriate next steps,” the statement said. “We received helpful advice from a board-certified infectious disease expert with specialized knowledge in communicable diseases, including coronavirus, and consulted with internal specialists. Additionally, we took the precautionary measure of engaging a specialized service to clean and disinfect each office prior to our colleagues returning.”

12:40 p.m., March 11

Notre Dame becomes latest Indiana university to call off in-person classes

University of Notre Dame on Wednesday followed in the footsteps of Indiana University and Purdue University in temporarily suspending in-person classes and planning to move instruction online.

University officials said classes on its South Bend campus would be halted on March 16 through at least April 13.

President John Jenkins attributed the move to protecting students from the spread of coronavirus, although no cases have been identified on the university’s campus.

“The probability that it will spread to our region is high,” Jenkins said in a letter to the university community.

Notre Dame students and faculty currently are on spring break. In order to give them time to adjust to new circumstances, all in-person and online classes will be canceled March 16-20. Online instruction will begin on March 23.

Jenkins also said he was suspending all study-abroad programs and bringing students and U.S.-based faculty home as soon as possible.

10:32 a.m., March 11

Indy Hematology Review postpones conference until August

The Indy Hematology Review, which was expected to hold its annual meeting March 21 at the Westin downtown, has postponed its event to August. The group had been expected to draw up to 500 doctors from across the state, but several guest speakers were required to withdraw from the event because of the coronavirus outbreak.

“We decided, for the safety of all the physicians and professionals that will be there, to postpone it,” said Debbie Locklear, president of Meeting Services Unlimited, which helped organize the event.

The spread of COVID-19 means the event will now be held Aug. 14-15, also at the Westin.

10:14 a.m., March 11

State total of COVID-19 cases rises to 10

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 has risen to 10 in the state after the emergence of four more cases, including three cases in Johnson County.

The other newly identified patient resides in Howard County, the department said.

The health department is providing case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

On its statistical online dashboard, the department said it had tested 43 Hoosiers for the virus. No deaths have been reported.

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7:33 a.m., March 11

Indy Lilly employee tests positive for COVID-19

An Eli Lilly and Co. employee in Indianapolis has tested positive for COVID-19, multiple TV stations reported early Wednesday.

Lilly spokesman Scott MacGregor confirmed the case to WRTV-TV Channel 6 but said he could not elaborate on the circumstances, citing employee privacy.

“We continue to monitor the situation,” MacGregor said. “We’re evaluating this on a day-by-day basis.”

The station said it was not immediately clear whether the Lilly employee is included in the six cases confirmed by the Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday.

Lilly employs about 11,000 people in Indianapolis.

7:30 a.m., March 11

Medical group cancels plans to meet in Indy, takes conference online

The American Medical Women’s Association has canceled plans to meet in Indianapolis for a March 26-29 conference and has moved the events online out of concern about COVID-19.

The association had planned to hold its Leadership Development Conference for Women Physicians at the Hyatt Regency but said in a statement that “continuing on with the meeting would have caused undue hardships for many, if not most, attendees.”

“Our primary obligation as health care providers is to our patients and the communities in which we live,” the group said on its website. “In light of all of these factors, we decided not to convene the live annual meeting in favor of a virtual platform.”

AMWA’s members are physicians, residents, medical students, pre-medical students and health care professionals.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams—a former Indiana’s state health commissioner—was scheduled to be a keynote speaker for the event.

Last week, the American Coatings Show and Conference announced it would postpone its event, which had been scheduled for March 31-April 2 at the Indiana Convention Center.

This week, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Department of Indiana canceled its spring conference due to concern the coronavirus could affect some of its attendees. The event, which had been scheduled for March 13-15 at the Indianapolis Marriott East, was expected to draw more than 200 people, including elderly veterans and school-age children.

1:24 a.m., March 11

Coronavirus clusters swell on both coasts

Alarming clusters of the coronavirus swelled on both coasts of the U.S. on Tuesday, with more than 70 cases now tied to a biotech conference in Boston and infections turning up at 10 nursing homes in the hard-hit Seattle area.

New York’s governor announced he is sending the National Guard to scrub public places and deliver food in a New York City suburb that is at the center of the nation’s biggest known cluster of infections.

At least 24 people have died in Washington from COVID-19, most in the Seattle metro area. Nineteen of the deaths are linked to one suburban Seattle nursing home and authorities in King County said the virus has spread to at least 10 long-term care facilities

On Wednesday, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee will announce a ban on gatherings and events of more than 250 people in virtually the entire Seattle metro area to try to stop the spread of the outbreak, said a person involved in the planning of the decision.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency as cases statewide jumped by 51 from the day before, to 92. Of that number, 70 are now connected to a meeting held last month by biotech company Biogen at a hotel in downtown Boston.

Santa Clara County in California, home to San Jose and Silicon Valley, on Monday announced a ban on all gatherings of 1,000 people or more.

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10:50 p.m., March 10

Scrutiny on NCAA tournament coronavirus plan intensifies

The Indianapolis-based NCAA faced mounting pressure over how it will conduct its marquee event Tuesday, the same day the Ivy League canceled its conference basketball tournaments and two other Division I conferences announced that their tournaments would be played without spectators because of escalating concerns about the novel coronavirus.

The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments are scheduled to begin next week at more than two dozen sites across the country, including multiple venues in Ohio, where Gov. Mike DeWine, a Republican, issued a strong recommendation Tuesday to play indoor sporting events in nearly empty arenas. The NCAA remained noncommittal in how it will proceed.

“The NCAA continues to assess how covid-19 impacts the conduct of our tournaments and events,” the organization said in a statement, referring to the disease caused by the new coronavirus. “We are consulting with public health officials and our COVID-19 advisory panel, who are leading experts in epidemiology and public health, and will make decisions in the coming days.”

As coronavirus concerns have shut down college campuses, canceled political rallies and led to the National Guard entering New Rochelle, New York, scrutiny is intensifying on the NCAA, which is preparing to host large-scale gatherings across the country. The pace of the coronavirus’s spread and statements by public officials further raised the specter of one of America’s most popular sporting events unfolding in front of television audiences only, with squeaking sneakers and bouncing balls providing an echoing, eerie soundtrack.

The Mid-American Conference and the Big West announced minutes apart Tuesday evening they would hold their tournaments—in Cleveland and Anaheim, California, respectively—without spectators. The MAC followed the recommendation of DeWine, who asked for no spectators at indoor sporting events “other than the athletes, parents, and others essential to the game.”

“The safety of all is our greatest concern,” MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher said.

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8 p.m., March 10

IPS cancels all field trips through April 3

Indianapolis Public Schools said Tuesday it has canceled all school sponsored field trips through April 3 as a measure to protect students from contracting COVID-19, caused by a coronavirus.

No cases have been identified among IPS students and staff.

“We know and acknowledge the inconvenience and loss of opportunity for students, yet the risks of not acting now far outweigh the disruption,” the district said in a statement on its website.

“The health and safety of our students, families and staff is our primary concern in this fluid situation,” the statement said. “These decisions are being taken to help mitigate and slow the spread of COVID-19 and to help protect the IPS community.”

6:25 p.m., March 10

One of city’s largest law firms has closed its offices; attorneys working remotely

Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath closed all 22 of its global offices Tuesday due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak. Attorneys worked remotely after concerns that employees in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office had potentially been exposed a day prior.

No staff members or lawyers from the firm had tested positive for COVID-19, but a person who attended a firm event in Faegre Drinker’s Washington office had tested positive.

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6:22 p.m., March 10

Purdue, IU take on-campus classes online in bid to prevent virus spread

Indiana University and Purdue University announced Tuesday that they would suspend in-person classes after their upcoming spring breaks out of concern for the novel coronavirus spreading across the globe.

Neither school has identified any COVID-19 cases on campus.

IU told students and faculty that it planned to suspend in-person classes at all of its campuses for the two weeks following spring break, which runs from March 15 to March 22. Students will receive instruction remotely from March 23 to April 5, and then are expected to return to their campuses on April 6.

Purdue University told its professors to move their courses to online or alternative delivery before March 23. An email from Purdue President Mitch Daniels and Provost Jay Akridge said the change would “continue as long as in-person instruction seems inadvisable (potentially through the end of the semester).”

Purdue’s spring break begins March 16 and runs through March 21. “To be clear, the campus will remain open after spring break,” the email said. “However, starting March 23, students must take their courses online.”

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3:37 p.m., March 10

Hamilton County plans virus awareness session

Hamilton County officials are planning a Facebook Live discussion about the CORVID-19 virus to spread awareness without risking infection.

Three county agencies—the Hamilton County Commissioners, the Hamilton County Health Department and Hamilton County Emergency Management—will each host a live video discussing the coronavirus on their Facebook pages at 8:30 p.m. on March 18.

“We felt that a public meeting is contrary to current public health guidance and that this type of communication is one of the safest ways to educate our citizens,” County Commissioner Christine Altman said in a written statement. “Any business you can conduct remotely right now is a best practice and certainly helps reduce risk of exposure.” Though there are no known cases of the virus in Hamilton County, two of the state’s six confirmed cases as of Tuesday afternoon are in neighboring Marion and Boone counties.

1:35 p.m., March 10

Gleaner’s makes its Community Cupboard Food Pantry drive-thru only

Gleaner’s has changed the distribution of food from its Community Cupboard Food Pantry to a drive-thru option only and has closed its interior facility, including its restrooms, to the public, out of concern about COVID-19 and possible volunteer shortages.

Pantry will remain the same during the week, but distribution this Saturday due to a lower number of volunteers and staff available. The Senior Shopping Day scheduled for Monday from 10 a.m. to noon will go on as scheduled, again in the drive-through format.

Volunteers and staff will be available to guide clients when they arrive at the Gleaners warehouse. Due to parking and environmental issues, clients are asked to arrive no earlier than 9:30 a.m. and to not idle cars as they wait.

“It is important that we prepare appropriately for several possible scenarios, continue to modify procedures as needed, but also remain calm and focused on our current responsibilities to clients and others—not overreacting, but taking prudent steps to prepare for possibilities,” said Gleaners CEO John Elliott in a statement. “We feel modifying our distribution is a good step, eliminating the need for clients, staff, and volunteers to congregate in our waiting area.”

10:48 a.m., March 10

Two more reported cases of virus bring state total to six

The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said the number of presumptive positive cases for COVID-19 has risen to six after the emergence of two more cases.

The newly identified patients reside in Adams and Boone counties, the department said. Adams County is in northeastern Indiana along the Ohio state line, and its county seat is Decatur.

The health department said it would provide case updates daily at 10 a.m. based on results received through midnight.

On its statistical online dashboard, the department said it had tested 36 Hoosiers for the virus. No deaths have been reported.

The first positive case of COVID-19, reported Friday, involved a Marion County resident who traveled to Boston in late February to attend the BioGen conference.

A second case, reported Sunday, involved a Hendricks County patient who also attended the Biogen conference.

The third case in the state, reported Sunday night, involved a student at Hickory Elementary School in the Avon Community School Corp. The fourth was reported Monday in Noble County in northern Indiana.

9:42 a.m., March 10

Some state prison facilities halt visitation as precaution

The Indiana Department of Correction announced Tuesday that it has suspended visitation to some prison facilities indefinitely because of the coronavirus outbreak. The department said there are no known cases of COVID-19 among staff or offenders housed at IDOC facilities, but it was taking the step as a precaution.

The following facilities are affected:

  • Indiana State Prison – LaPorte County
  • Indiana Women’s Prison – Marion County
  • Heritage Trail Correctional Facility – Hendricks County
  • Plainfield Correctional Facility – Hendricks County
  • Reception Diagnostic Center – Hendricks County
  • Westville Correctional Facility – LaPorte County
  • LaPorte Juvenile Correctional Facility – LaPorte County
  • New Castle Correctional Facility – Henry County

“I know how important visitations are to offenders and to their family and friends, but the overriding concern is to limit the opportunity of COVID-19 being introduced into our facilities,” IDOC Commissioner Rob Carter said in written comments. “I’ve directed my staff to assess the need for continued visitation restrictions on a daily basis, and when responsible to do so, restrictions will be lifted, or if necessary, expanded to other facilities to protect staff and offenders.”

12:52 a.m., March 10

Trump to seek payroll tax cut as part of virus response

President Donald Trump said Monday that he is seeking major policy changes that White House officials hope will arrest the widening economic turmoil caused by the coronavirus outbreak by providing immediate federal aid to workers and a number of business groups. Trump said he will ask Congress to cut payroll taxes and provide relief to hourly workers suffering from the economic fallout of the coronavirus. He also said he was seeking to provide assistance to the airline, hotel and cruise industries, which are all suffering as Americans rapidly cancel travel plans.

4:45 p.m., March 9

Dow drops 7.8% as crashing oil prices, virus fears slam markets

The Dow Jones industrial average sank 7.8% on Monday, its steepest drop since the financial crisis of 2008, as a free-fall in oil prices and worsening fears of fallout from the spreading coronavirus outbreak seize markets.

The sharp drops triggered the first automatic halts in trading in two decades.

U.S. stocks are now down 19% from the peak they reached last month. Bond yields plumbed new lows as investors sought safety.

The price of oil plunged nearly 25% after Saudi Arabia indicated it would ramp up production after Russia refused to production cutbacks in response to falling demand.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 2,013 points, or 7.8%, to close at 23,851. The Standard & Poor’s 500 lost 225 points, or 7.6%, to end at 2,746. The Nasdaq dropped 624 points, or 7.3% closing at 7,950.

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4:32 p.m., March 9

VFW cancels spring conference

The Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Department of Indiana has canceled its spring conference due to concern the coronavirus could affect some of its attendees. The event, which had been scheduled for March 13-15 at the Indianapolis Marriott East, was expected to draw more than 200 people, including elderly veterans and school-age children.

The event draws veterans from across the state, including the heads of various VFW posts.

Deborah Ryan, adjutant for VFW Indiana, said the decision came after news broke today of COVID-19, the disease caused by a novel coronavirus, impacting the Avon school district and other parts of central Indiana.

“We are pretty close to where some of these cases have been reported,” she said. “We don’t want to put our attendees at any kind of risk, especially those veterans that may be older or immunocompromised.”

She said the group’s summer conference is still scheduled for June 11-14, also at the Marriott on the east side.

3:15 p.m., March 9

Avon schools will be closed through March 20

All Avon Community School Corp. schools will be closed through March 20 after a second student began displaying symptoms of COVID-19, the school system announced Monday afternoon.

The student has not tested positive for the disease.

Avon Schools Superintendent Maggie Hoernemann said closing all schools is a precautionary measure. Officials did not say what school the second student displaying symptoms attends.

With the district’s spring break scheduled for March 23-April 3, students won’t actually return to school until April 6.

On Sunday night, a student at Hickory Elementary School in Avon schools tested positive for COVID-19, which led the district to close that school through March 20.

The other schools had an e-learning day on Monday. But now, district officials are expanding the closure to the entire district.

District officials said the schools will utilize e-learning days as much as possible during the closure.

Students without internet can request paper packets. The district will also provide families who rely on the school system for meals for their children with paper bag meals.

Dr. Kristina Box, Indiana’s state health commissioner, warned that the next two weeks should not be viewed as a spring break, with families visiting museums, the movies or the mall. Families need to practice social distancing, she said.

12:20 p.m., March 9

Noble County in northern Indiana has coronavirus case

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-3rd District, said Monday that an individual at Parkview Noble Hospital has been diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by a novel coronavirus that was first discovered in China. The patient is the fourth in Indiana to test positive for the virus.

Banks said the patient does not have school-aged children, meaning the East Noble School Corp. has not been immediately affected.

“My office reached out to Parkview Health, the Noble County Health Department and East Noble School Corporation,” he said in a statement. “We’ve requested regular updates on the new coronavirus case and offered any assistance our office can provide.”

9:54 a.m., March 9

Virus fears, crashing oil prices take toll on stock market

Stocks fell sharply Monday on Wall Street on a combination of coronavirus fears and plunging oil prices, triggering a brief, automatic halt in trading to let investors catch their breath.

The price of oil sank nearly 20% after Russia refused to roll back production in response to falling prices and Saudi Arabia signaled that it will ramp up its output.

While low oil prices can eventually translate into cheaper gasoline, they are wreaking havoc on already struggling energy companies and countries that depend on oil, including the No. 1 producer, the United States.

The war between the giant oil producers came just as Italy heads for a huge hit to its economy as it enforces a lockdown on 16 million people in the northern part of the country, the heart of its manufacturing and financial industries. The turmoil is expected to push Italy into recession and weigh on the European economy.

The carnage in other markets was nearly as breathtaking as in oil. U.S. stocks careened closer to a bear market, signified by a drop of 20% from its record, while a measure of fear in the market touched its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis. European stock markets fell even more sharply, and Treasury yields plunged to more record lows in the latest vicious swings for a market that has rocked investors the last couple weeks.

The S&P 500 plunged as much as 7.4% in the first few minutes of trading, and losses were so sharp that trading was temporarily halted. Stocks trimmed their losses following the halt, and the index was down 4.8%, as of 11:44 a.m. Eastern time.

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7:30 a.m., March 9

Hendricks County elementary school student has positive COVID-19 test, school district says

A student at Hickory Elementary School in the Avon Community School Corp. has tested positive for COVID-19, the school district reported late Sunday night.

The district said on its website that it had been informed of the positive test by the Hendricks County Health Department. As a result of the positive test, all schools in the district will have an e-learning day on Monday. In addition, Hickory Elementary School will be closed for two weeks, which will be followed by the district’s regularly scheduled two-week spring break. School is set to resume April 6.

This is the third reported positive test for COVID-19 in Indiana, and the second in Hendricks County. Earlier on Sunday, Indiana health officials said a man from that county who had traveled to Boston in late February to attend the BioGen conference had tested positive. The man developed mild flu-like symptoms on March 2.

The patient is not hospitalized, officials said, but they did not disclose where or when the individual was tested. It was not immediately clear whether there is a connection between that man and the Hickory Elementary student.

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3:45 p.m., March 8

Anxiety grips companies around globe as virus spreads

Since breaking out of China, the coronavirus has breached the walls of the Vatican. It’s struck the Iranian holy city of Qom and contaminated a nursing home in Seattle.

And around the world, it’s carrying not just sickness and death but also the anxiety and paralysis that can smother economic growth.

From Florida, where the CEO of a toy maker who can’t get products from Chinese factories is preparing layoffs, to Hong Kong, where the palatial Jumbo Kingdom restaurant is closed, businesses are struggling. The virus has grounded a British airline, and it’s sunk a Japanese cruise-ship company.

The cumulative damage is mounting.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development this week slashed its forecast for global growth for this year to 2.4% from 2.9%. It warned that Japan and the 19 European countries that share the euro currency are in danger of recession. Italy may already be there.

Capital Economics expects the Chinese economy to shrink 2% in the January-March quarter and to grow as little as 2% for the year. That would be a disastrous and humiliating comedown for an economy that delivered a sizzling 9% average annual growth rate from 2000 through last year.

The bleak outlook and nagging uncertainties about how severe the damage will be have shaken financial markets. The Dow Jones industrial average, gyrating wildly from day to day, has plummeted nearly 12% over the past month.

“The virus is going to go on, and it’s going to impact a lot of countries and economies,” said Sondra Mansfield, who owners Chalk of the Town in New York City, which makes T-shirts and tote bags that children can write on with chalk.

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6 thoughts on “THE LATEST: PPE Marketplace hits 20,000-bundle mark; BMV to begin charging penalty fees again; no movie theaters, playgrounds in Stage 3

  1. How does this situation compare with a serious Flu pandemic like H1N1? There is no comparison so far as I can see. There does seem to be a great deal of concern but a little over 200,000 cases and about 9000 deaths out of a population of over 7.4 billion people makes me think a little bit.

    1. Many of those who are stricken but survive are left with permanent disabilities, even amputations, due to kidney, heart, and lung damage. Four weeks hospitalized and then sent to a rehab hospital and then left with permanent disabilities? No, thank you.

  2. Failure to disclose makes scrutiny of public policy impossible.
    Same for failure to disclose modeling assumptions.
    Back when we used to have a news media, this could never happen.

  3. I wonder how Indy’s numbers are affected by a greater availability of tests compared to many other cities, due to the development and administration of new tests by private organizations in the area. Perhaps the numbers right now are more about ability to test and confirm positive cases than to know how many people in an area actually have COVID-19.

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