COVID-19 Update from Gov. Eric J. Holcomb

Governor Holcomb provides updates in the fight against #COVID19

Governor Holcomb provides updates in the fight against #COVID19

Posted by Governor Eric Holcomb on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Today was Governor Holcomb’s likely only briefing of the week focused on Coronavirus updates. On the health front, we heard the results of the 2nd wave of testing conducted by the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health. In the first wave (testing in March), more than 4600 individuals were tested (viral swab and antibody tests); 2nd wave of tests (June 3-8) had more than 3600 tested. The lower participation makes it challenging, but the random sampling still allows for some conclusions. Some highlights include:

  • The study estimates that .6% of Hoosiers were actively infected in June and 1.5% are positive for antibodies
  • Spread within households (close contacts) was still high. More than 21% of those who tested positive had someone in their household who had also tested positive.
  • Infection rates continue to be higher in nonwhite and Hispanic populations, but even so, the vast majority of those groups are not actively infected and do not have antibodies – there is still tremendous opportunity for viral spread
  • 43% of those who tested positive had no symptoms (at that time). The health professionals all pointed to this data as they encouraged continued social distancing and wearing of masks as a way to minimize the spread of infection
  • The next wave of tests will be conducted in the fall

Several times throughout the briefing, Dr. Box pointed to studies and information that show the wearing of masks – even handmade cloth masks – greatly reduce the likely spread of infection. She clearly believes that the data shows wearing masks is a key to continuing to slow the rate of infection and protect others from those who may be asymptomatic carriers. She frequently reminds listeners: “I wear a mask for you. You wear a mask for me.”

Earlier today, the State Budget Agency had a regularly scheduled meeting. While they did cover regular budget topics, they focused on the impact to the state budget from coronavirus and also reviewed the federal assistance coming to the state. Two reporters did some live tweeting during the meeting – check these Twitter threads for more details: Brandon J. Smith and Niki Kelly.  Key updates include:

  • State estimates they will end the current fiscal year (June 30) with $1.8 B less in revenue than forecast. The state will use the more than $2B that was in surplus to ensure the general fund doesn’t run out of money
  • Some of that miss – estimating $800M will be made up in July when taxes normally due in April are now due
  • Early estimates are a $2B revenue miss in the next fiscal year (starting July 1)
  • CARES Act dollars can’t be used to supplant state budget spending or lost revenue – they are used for unanticipated expenses required to address Coronavirus impacts
  • As previously reported, all state agencies have been asked to find 15% funding cuts. Recently state unviersities were told to find 7% of their budgets for cuts.
  • For Universities (and other agencies) CARES Act funding does come with some limitations and is used as reimbursement for qualified expenditures to address Coronavirus, such as PPE, sanitizer, physical barriers, etc. to prepare for reopening in the fall.
  • Indiana has received $5B in CARES Act funding with $1.6B of that going directly to recipients (Hospitals, community health programs, airports, farmers, etc.). The remaining money is passing through state government to local entities such as transit, education, public health, etc. Specifically, some of these state agency grants include: $232M to State Dept. of Health, $103M to Family & Social Services Agency, $31M to Dept. of Workforce Development; $238M to Dept. of Transportation, $378M to Dept. of Education.
  • During the afternoon briefing, the Governor shared much anticipated news that K-12 funding will NOT be cut. The most recent budget called for an increase of $171M in the current fiscal year and another $183M in the next year (starting July 1, 2020). These funds are going to remain, including the investment of $150M into Teacher Retirement Funds to offset local contributions allowing for increased salaries.
  • In addition to ensuring those budgeted funds continue, schools are receiving $192M from the CARES Act, which can be spent to offset increased Coronavirus costs. They also have access to some FEMA funds for PPE, sanitizer, etc.

New Information and Updates:

  • Since last Wednesday’s report, the state has reported 2676 new positive cases (41,013 total), 116 new deaths (2,289 total), and 51,088 new tests administered (371,182 total – an overall 11% positive rate) on the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov as of midnight last night. There are an additional 186 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received). Detailed data about hospitalization rates and comorbidity analysis is available at: www.regenstrief.org/covid-dashboard
  • The state remains in Stage 4 – anticipated to be in effect until July 3rd. The details of how to operate are in Executive Order 20-32.
  • Indiana’s coronavirus website is getting several updates overnight. New information available tomorrow will include:
    • Daily positive test rate that can be filtered by county and district – this will fluctuate somewhat as negative test results often take longer to report than positive test results
    • Hospital bed and ventilator use by region and statewide
    • Additional testing demographics available by region and county
  • Any Hoosier who wants to be tested, can be tested at any of the ISDH/OptumServe sites. You can register at: https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123. There are more than 200+ Covid-19 testing sites across the state – all with available capacity (some of those do have some requirements for testing – the map shows options near you).

Resources & Reminders: