COVID-19 Daily Update from Gov. Eric J. Holcomb

Governor Holcomb provides updates in the fight against #COVID19.

Posted by Governor Eric Holcomb on Monday, April 6, 2020

Governor Holcomb opened today discussing the extension of Indiana’s “stay-at-home” order for 2 weeks (until 11:59 p.m. on Monday, April 20).  Additionally, the new Order (20-18) brings some new rules, particularly for retail businesses.

  • No changes for retailers offering “necessities of life” (groceries, pharmaceuticals, office supplies for those working from home, etc.).
  • Other retailers (craft, beauty supply, books, etc.) can continue to operate but under new restrictions making them similar to bars and restaurants. They can operate online/call-in with curbside pick-up and delivery. No “foot traffic” in the business. The Governor noted that he is aware it is very difficult to convert how you’ve always done business, but it is also difficult to report more Hoosiers sick and dying each day.

In addition to the retail changes, state park campgrounds will be closed (people living in RV’s at the campground with no where else to go are exempted). State parks remain open for hiking and recreation as long as Hoosiers continue to use them practicing safe social distancing. All Executive Orders can be found here.

Several questions were asked about church services and the upcoming Easter Holiday. Governor Holcomb clarified that churches are not essential operations. “The virus does not care about holidays and doesn’t discriminate about where a person is. It preys on large gatherings and on the vulnerable. It is our job to prevent large gatherings and to protect the vulnerable among us.” When asked, Dr. Box of the IN State Department of Health noted that her family will not be doing a usual family gathering on Easter. While they want to spend the day with loved ones, it’s important to protect the older family members and those with underlying conditions.

Commissioner Fred Payne (Department of Workforce Development [DWD]) gave an update on Unemployment benefits.

  • The Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) benefit provides an additional $600 to those eligible to receive benefits. It applies to unemployment benefits for March 29 through July 20. They are updating their current system now and anticipate those benefits will begin being paid out before the end of the month (approximately April 20th). Those benefits will be paid retroactively to March 29th for those that are eligible.
  • The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides temporary employment benefits for those who would not normally qualify (contractors/self-employed/freelance/limited work history) but who would otherwise be working if not for Covid-19. This requires an entirely new system to cover this eligible class of workers and brings in multiple agencies to confirm earnings in the same way their current system does for traditionally employed individuals. It will take a bit longer to establish and will not be ready until very late April/early May at the earliest. These individuals will also receive the $600 additional PUC benefit once their benefits are being paid.
  • To accommodate the surge in applications and questions, the DWD has hired an additional 77 people (some have started work today) and are working with a 3rd party to have 100 additional people to accept calls into the system beginning tomorrow.
  • The Unemployment Insurance system is still running at delivering the first benefit check approximately 21 days after the initial claim is made.
  • Good resources are available without calling on the Unemployment Insurance website where there is up-to-date information including a regularly updated FAQ. Additionally, there is an Unemployment Facebook Live event next Wednesday, April 8th at 10:30 a.m. Eastern Time. Learn more about it here.

Employee Information & Reminders:

  • PPE is still going to be in short supply. If your business can make or donate PPE, contact: COVIDResponse@iedc.in.gov. Or if your business can offer a service  or other product (housing for national guard, cooking facilities for mass production of food, etc.), you can also contact: COVIDResponse@iedc.in.gov.
  • The SWIN Chamber has put many resources on their website at: www.swinchamber.com
  • If you wish to participate in the #INThisTogether social media campaign, search for that hashtag on any social media outlet or visit the website at: www.INThisTogetherCampaign.com.
  • If an employer has a question about whether they are essential, they can call the hotline at 877-820-0890 between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time each day. Good answers also available at: www.in.gov/criticalindustries
  • For those needing assistance with mental health issues, there are several helpful resources available on The Bowen Center Coronavirus site

General Covid-19 Response Update

  • 4944 confirmed cases and 139 deaths with 26,191 tests reported as of this morning at www.coronavirus.in.gov.
  • We believe we have received all of the supplies that we will get from the Strategic National Reserve. Under conservative use practices, it has provided approximately 12 days-worth of supplies on top of what hospitals, EMS providers, etc. already have in stock and procure on their own. It is still important that businesses who are able to make or donate PPE do so to the greatest extent possible.
  • Dr. Box and the Governor both noted that these next 2 weeks are critical. Hoosiers should stay “hunkered down” to help keep as many out of the hospital and ambulances as possible.
  • Currently testing about 336 people for every 100,000 Hoosiers. This is lower than our neighboring states and lower than the US average. The state continues to look for more ways to secure timely test results and for supplies to conduct more testing. They hope to ramp up from the 3000 tests/day right now to more than 6000 tests/day in 2 weeks.
  • While reports had indicated we would receive 15 test kits from Abbot, we understand we will now get 5. Each kit comes with a cassette for 100 tests. The State has placed an order for additional cassettes, but these are on back order.
  • When asked about the public wearing masks, Dr. Box responded that first of all, we should not be in the public very long other than for essential errands and for exercise – all the while exercising social distancing. If the public wants to use the homemade masks, that is OK, but N95 and surgical masks should be preserved for healthcare providers.