COVID-19 Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Update – “Stay home. Essential Travel Only. Take Care of Others.”

Governor Holcomb did the first of what he has said will be a daily update at 2:30 p.m. each day.  Hoosiers can watch the livestream on various outlets – check social media for the Governor’s and media outlets’ accounts to find options for watching. Today, the key message was: “Stay home. Essential Travel Only. Take Care of Others.”

In addition to the Governor’s address, I participated in a call with the Indiana Manufacturers Association today focused on the “essential industries” declaration. These are highlights of what I heard and learned from both opportunities.

First and foremost, there is some confusion about whether the state order supersedes local ordinances/orders. The state order does supersede local action, unless the locals have addressed an issue not addressed by the state. In that case, the local ordinance applies.

For businesses with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to donate or if your operations can be repurposed for supporting the Covid-19 response, you can reach out to PPEAPER@Gov.in.gov to coordinate the work/donation.

Employers and Essential Industries Determination

  • The Governor’s Executive Order directing Hoosiers to Stay-At-Home goes into effect at midnight tonight
  • Direction from the Governor’s office indicates that employers are responsible for determining if they are essential
  • If an employer has a question about this, they can call the hotline at 877-820-0890 between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Eastern time each day
  • Also good answers at: www.in.gov/criticalindustries
  • This is a line for businesses, not employees. Employees who believe their work is not essential should take that up first with their employer and if there is still a disagreement, then they can direct that to the state.
  • Employers should provide a letter to their employees to carry with them traveling to/from work.
  • Law enforcement does not anticipate pulling people over for random checks, but if a person is pulled over for a moving violation or other infraction, they may check the driver’s reason for being out.
  • If you are in a business that is considered essential, you should still be complying with the 6-foot social distance rules to the greatest extent possible
  • Even if the business is not deemed essential, the business is allowed to maintain basic business functions, such as security, payroll/benefits, IT work that supports those who work from home, etc.

Unemployment Insurance (UI)

  • Claims reaching record levels with 100,000+ applications for new benefits expected this week; just yesterday more than 38,000 Hoosiers contacted the Department of Workforce Development re: eligibility and process to apply
  • If an employer is planning a temp layoff or other activity, you can speed up the process for your impacted employees by reaching out to the Unemployment offices to provide pertinent information up front
  • Usually the first week after application is a waiting period – that will likely change in the coming days to allow for payments for the first week of unemployment
  • Through Federal action already passed or likely to pass soon, independent contractors, self-insured and others who have not paid into the system will likely be eligible for some level of assistance
  • UI payments will be $300/week above the usual payments and an additional 13 weeks of benefits will be provided on top of the cap (26 weeks)
  • Some federal changes also anticipated to provide paid FMLA
  • Anyone with questions about eligibility and application can go to: www.unemployment.in.gov for tools to guide you through the process
  • There are webinars (details on the website) planned for this week and next for businesses and individuals to help educate Hoosiers

Tax Updates

  • The Department of Revenue extended the deadline for payments and filings to July 15th for Corporate and Individual filers
  • Property Taxes are still due on May 11, but there will be no penalties for 60 days
  • Clarified that there are no Use Tax or other tax consequences for any business supplying/producing health care equipment for the Covid-19 response

IDEM

  • Like all state agencies it is closed through April 7th
  • Businesses are expected to continue to comply with rules and regulations, and use common sense an discretion to meet certain reporting requirements
  • IDEM officials are generally still working remotely, available to take questions and talk through issues
  • Any business experiencing an unusual situation should be prepared to document all actions as a vital part of the response

General Health update

  • Because the homeless are particularly vulnerable with no place to quarantine and often have underlying conditions, an outbreak in a shelter would be particularly harmful. With a grant from the Lilly Foundation, the state has secured a location (not sharing the location details) for quarantine and shelter. Eskenazi health will staff it, National Guard will provide security. This is something they plan to replicate as possible across the state
  • As confirmed cases grow, it is not sustainable for health departments to track down all those who had contact with confirmed cases. Emphasizing that it is the responsibility of any individual confirmed to have Covid-19 to tell their employer and any others you have had contact with.
  • If a person calls 911 for any sort of emergency response, it is incredibly important that they tell the dispatcher if they or anyone in the household is sick. That helps EMS ensure they are prepared to respond appropriately and take the necessary precautions to reduce spreading.

The Governor remarked that yesterday’s Executive Order was an important action, but more important than what he did is why he did it. “Being successful against Covid-19 will take everything we’ve got. We must get through this storm as fast as possible. And, for us to use this time to see the true character of Hoosiers as we not just come through this, but we watch fellow Hoosiers go above and beyond to take care of others.”