The Governor opened his briefing today with an announcement that he will be issuing a statewide mask mandate effective Monday, July 27th. He will sign an Executive Order later this week with the details that will include:
- Applies to anyone 8 years or older while in indoor public spaces, commercial entities or transportation services, or in outside public spaces when you cannot socially distance
- Mask use in schools required for grades 3 and up, faculty and staff, volunteers and anyone else in schools.
- Masks are also required for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, with exceptions for strenuous physical activities
- Exceptions will be made for medical purposes, strenuous activity, eating and drinking
- Masks are strongly recommended for ages 2-7
In announcing the Order, Holcomb reminded Hoosiers that “we’re able to do many things we couldn’t do. If we want businesses to stay open and for children to be able to return to school, we need to take these actions to keep us from going backwards. Face coverings have reduced the spread in other parts of the country and other parts of the world.” The ‘mask police’ will not be patrolling the streets. “When we hunkered down before, we helped hospitals prepare and managed supply chains. We knew that cases would increase as we opened up. We have fared better than many other states, and now is the time to hunker down in a different way by making the fashion of the day to help us prevent the transmission of the virus.”
Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Secretary of the Family & Social Services Administration (pediatrician by training) and Dr. Weaver, Chief Medical Officer of the IN State Department of Health, spent considerable time walking through additional guidelines being shared for K-12 schools. Some advice for schools to minimize the spread and exposure include:
- Space desks as far as possible facing in the same direction
- Cohort younger students into pods
- Hand washing & disinfection
- Plan schedules so that a minimum number of students are close contacts
- Do not conduct birthday parties or other events that put students in close contact
- Isolate and send home any person who develops symptoms
The guidelines are in response to many of the recurring questions that have come in during their conversations with educators, including what to do when a student or teacher tests positive (there are specific guidance with scenarios for this situation). The information is being shared directly with school leaders and will be available on the state’s Back On Track website.
In other political/government news, the deadline to be on the ballot for state legislative seats has passed. We know now that 40% of the 125 legislative races on the ballot this year (only 25 of the 50 State Senators are up for re-election) are uncontested. This includes:
- 3 Republican State Senators (including local State Senator Vaneta Becker)
- 5 Democrat State Senators plus 1 Democrat in an open Senate Seat (incumbent did not run for re-election)
- 18 Republican State Representatives (including Dist. #74 Steve Bartels with parts of Spencer and Dubois Counties in his district)
- 11 Democrat State Representatives plus 2 Democrats in Open House seats (incumbents did not run for re-election)
And, tomorrow, the Legislative study committee designated to develop recommendations for how the Legislature will operate under the pandemic or other conditions that require distance/remote options will meet for the first time. We are all interested to watch (remotely) the discussion and the ideas they develop over the next few months.
New Information and Updates:
- Since last Wednesday’s report, the state has reported 9,610 new positive cases (58,673 total; ~2X as many as the previous week) and 74 new deaths (2,666 total ~50% more than the previous week). There were 67,824 new tests administered (586,589 total [33% more than the previous week] with an overall 9.0% positive rate since the beginning of testing) according to the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov as of midnight last night. There are an additional 197 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).
- Hospitalizations have also been creeping up. For example, there are 66 more Hoosiers hospitalized today than yesterday (the most in a week) and 61 more Hoosiers in ICU (the first time over 300 since June 16th). There is still plenty of space in Indiana hospitals and they have definitely learned better treatments since the early phases of COVID-19, but it is still a valuable data point to watch. Anyone interested in looking at detailed data about hospitalizations (available in county and regional levels) and other COVID-19 related metrics should look at: www.regenstrief.org/covid-dashboard
- There are 200+ testing sites open across the state – each operator has their own requirements about whether an individual must be symptomatic or have underlying conditions and the locations move based on needs and building requirements. The state operated sites are free and open to anyone who wants it regardless of symptoms or risk; register in advance for those by calling 888-634-1123 or at https://lhi.care/covidtesting. If there are no spots available via advance registration, walk ins are available.
- When asked “why Hoosiers should care if death rates aren’t increasing as positive cases increase,” Dr. Weaver noted that “death is not the only thing we are trying to prevent. Mortality is the tip of the iceberg. We are seeing many individuals who have already seen long lasting effects; reducing the members of the general public who are exposed to these severe issues is another goal.”
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.
- YourNextStepIN.org is a one-stop shop for those seeking unemployment insurance, childcare, healthcare, food assistance, career coaching, etc.
- The Unemployment Insurance website has up-to-date information including a regularly updated FAQ; dates for webinars posted here and a listing of thousands of available jobs at www.indianacareerconnect.com with frequently planned virtual job fairs.
- Increased funds are available for individuals seeking training through the Workforce Ready Grant program and for employers using the Employer Training Grant program.
- Small businesses and non-profits can order PPE from the state’s PPE Directory. Anyone able to make or donate PPE can contact: PPEDirectory@iedc.in.gov.
- Blood supplies continue to run dangerously low in many Indiana communities. Anyone interested in donating or scheduling a donation drive can learn more at: donation/collection in communities.
- Those needing mortgage or rent assistance should call 1-877-GET-HOPE or go to: www.877GetHope.org. Applications for the Covid-19 Rental Assistance Program open July 13th at www.indianahousingnow.org. The program will provide up to $500 per month for up to 4 months to renters.
- Check the Wi-Fi Hotspot Map if you need internet access for work or school.
- 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/
- The IN Department of Education guidance for K-12 schools is available to the public.