Governor Holcomb opened today’s briefing by thanking all the peaceful protestors and demonstrators who have “been speaking up for an important cause; those who seek to strengthen the fabric of our state – a multi-colored fabric – who we owe not just our attention, but our action.” He encouraged everyone to listen – or listen again – to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech believing it will help guide us through this moment of history. Holcomb quoted Dr. King several times throughout the briefing noting that “the bank of justice is not in fact bankrupt,” that the same “fierce urgency of now” exists today, and that there can be “no rest or tranquility until we see progress.” These ideas are spurring him to ask each Agency to review all programs to ensure there are no barriers to programs designed to assist and to establish goals for making change. He is also working to establish a statewide group of stakeholders to work with his administration on these issues.
As a follow-up to last night’s Primary Election Report, the only race that wasn’t complete at that point was the Republican race in District 75 (Rep. Bacon’s seat). Cindy Ledbetter won that race with 52% of the vote and will face John Hurley in the fall. In other Legislative races, it appears that all challenged incumbents have won, except for Dollyne Sherman, elected in a caucus vote last year to fill a seat opened when Rep. Kevin Mahan retired mid-term. Sherman trails by 159 votes with mail-in ballots still to be counted. We also just received results for the Democrat primary to replace retiring State Senator Mark Stoops (district is in and around Bloomington) where former County Councilman Shelli Yoder won 81% of the vote over current State Democrat Party Chair John Zody. Again, you can see results from across Indiana at the Secretary of State’s website. One other interesting bit of information is that unofficial results this morning showed that 16 or 18 tax referendums to support schools passed (according to IN Tax Rockstars), which is an impressive passing rate in these economic times.
The Lt. Governor joined the briefing today to share some updates from agencies she oversees. Specifically:
- An additional $17M available through the IN Housing and Community Development Agency for the low income home energy assistance program. Benefits of up to $350 will be available to anyone who has lost their job or decreased hours to assist with utility bills. Applications available at www.eap.ihcda.in.gov or by calling 211.
- Local Governments can apply for up to $250,000 each in funds from the Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to be used to provide loans or grants to small businesses (up to 100 employees) to continue operations and keep employees working.
- The state has approved another round of Rural Broadband grants – funding 14 projects in 18 Counties with $28M in funding. Spencer and Perry Counties are the closest counties to our region to receive funds. There will be another round of grants announced in July.
Finally, Dr. Jen Sullivan, Director of the Family and Social Services Agency (FSSA) shared some updates on benefits to help the most at-risk Hoosiers.
- The first-of-its-kind Workforce Bridge program to assist Healthy Indiana Plan (HIP) members to use up to $1000 from their POWER accounts (similar to an HSA) to help pay premiums, copays, etc. as they transition off this medicare-based plan and onto an employer-based or other insurance plan.
- SNAP EBT benefits can now be used to purchase groceries online for pickup and/or delivery through Amazon and Walmart (working with other providers to get them added) to allow homebound or other vulnerable populations to receive groceries. This is a permanent change and while delivery fees can’t be paid for with SNAP benefits, FSSA is working to change that in the future.
- FSSA has also received waivers to increase the flexibility of services for those with intellectual or developmental disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, physical disabilities, and older adults to adapt programs to ensure these clients are supported in their homes and communities.
- FSSA has received a $1M grant from FEMA to support a crisis counseling program that will be available through calls to 211.
New Information and Updates:
- There were 511 new positive cases (35,712 total), 10 new deaths (2,032 total), and 5,960 new tests administered 277,815 total) reported on the state’s dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov as of midnight last night. There are an additional 175 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).
- According to Fort Wayne Journal Gazette Reporter Niki Kelly, there were 113 Covid-19 deaths in March, 1036 in April, and 863 in May in Indiana.
- The 2nd round of testing for the study in conjunction with the IU Fairbanks School of Public Health began today. If you are asked to participate, please do – even if you’ve already had a Covid-19 test. This helps understand the spread in Indiana and helps the Governor “refine or plan for opening the economy.”
- The IN State Department of Health (ISDH) has distributed 1.8M pieces of PPE and 9000+ vials of Remdisivir to health care providers across the state. As PPE supply lines open up, the state is beginning to rebuild their inventory to be prepared for any future resurgence.
- The state is preparing to issue new guidelines to skilled nursing facilities/long-term care facilities (LTCF) to allow for outdoor visitation with residents under certain rules and requirements. This is not a final solution as it will still mean that some residents can’t receive visitors, but it is one step along the way to increasing visitation and decreasing isolation among the residents.
- The state is also launching a testing program to ensure that all staff members at LTCF’s are tested by the end of June and this will also guide future plans for testing and operations.
- Testing has continued to increase, but there is still capacity at many of the 200+ Covid-19 testing sites across the state. Nearly anyone who wants a test can get one regardless of symptoms, though testing is encouraged for anyone with symptoms and those without symptoms who are in the high risk categories or are an essential worker who needs to return to work. Use the map to find a site near you; you can register for one of the ISDH/Optum operated sites at https://lhi.care/covidtesting or by calling 888-634-1123.
Resources & Reminders:
- All of the Governor’s Executive Orders can be found here. In addition to the language in the EO’s, there is helpful industry-specific information in the Industry Guidelines on the “Back On Track Indiana” webpage.
- Those needing assistance with Unemployment Insurance are strongly encouraged to check the Unemployment Insurance website where there is up-to-date information including a regularly updated FAQ before calling. You can find webinars, Facebook live events, etc. (for employers and individuals) posted here and available jobs can always be found at www.indianacareerconnect.com with frequently planned virtual job fairs.
- Supplemental PPE for small businesses and non-profits is available from the state’s PPE Marketplace.
- Review hospitalization rates and other Covid-19 tracking data at: www.regenstrief.org/covid-dashboard
- Businesses able to make or donate PPE, services, or other products, contact: COVIDResponse@iedc.in.gov.
- Those needing mortgage or rent assistance should call 1-877-GET-HOPE or go to: www.877GetHope.org.
- Check the Wi-Fi Hotspot Map if you need internet access for work or school.
- Up-to-date SWIN regional information is available at www.ourvchd.org (Vanderburgh County Health Dept.)
- The American Red Cross needs blood donors. Find a donations site at: donation/collection in communities.
- Guidelines for how Long Term Care (LTC) Facilities address the collection and communication of Covid-19 information. Those working at or those with family members at an LTC Facility should review the guidelines.
- If you have questions about tax deadlines for yourself or your business, check www.in.gov/dor.
- If you haven’t done so already, complete your 2020 Census at www.my2020census.gov.
- If you or someone you know is contemplating Suicide: call 800-273-TALK, text HOME to 741741, or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Anyone experiencing Domestic Violence can get immediate help at 800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 866-331-9474, or visit www.thehotline.org/help
- To find a resource for Addiction Recovery, go to: www.in.gov/recovery/