Governor Eric Holcomb answers questions during Friday’s COVID-19 update.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials updated the public on the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic during a news conference Friday afternoon.
As of 10 a.m., Indiana reported 6,907 positive cases of the novel coronavirus and 300 related deaths, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s dashboard on Thursday. More than 35,040 tests had been administered, ISDH said. Ninety of 92 counties have individuals who have tested positive.
- Holcomb: “Just like the city of Indianapolis, the state of Indiana lost a member of our family yesterday when officer Breann Leath was senselessly taken from us in the line of duty. She was special by any definition of the word. She was a role model. She was someone who her juniors looked up to. We will miss her. This is the best among us. We are saddened by this tragic event.” Leath worked in the Indiana Department of Corrections and served in the Indiana National Guard.
- Kristina Box, ISDH commissioner, confirmed that 24 residents of the Bethany Point longterm care facility have died. “This is a tragedy for the families and the healthcare staff grew close to them. This is a tragedy for our entire state.”
- Box said 50% of positive cases have been of white individuals and 18.5% have been African-American. Box said 19.2% of deaths have been African-Americans.
- Box said 41% of ICU beds are available. 69% of the state’s ventilators are available.
- Dashboard updates will move from 10 a.m. to noon next week.
- Box: “This test is a pretty tedious test. We’ve been very fortunate that IU has stepped up, Lilly has stepped up, our labs have continued to do it.” Box said LabCorps turnaround time is down to 48 hours. She said it continues to be a struggle to get test swabs.
- 12,000 Hoosiers have joined the volunteer health care registry. More than 1/3 of IU Health’s graduating class is already paired with hospitals from the volunteer registry.
- Regarding reasons for optimism, Box credited Indiana’s preparedness. “It’s hard when we see this many people dying to be real positive.”
- Holcomb: “Our goal is to be one of the first in this storm and one of the first out.”
- Christopher Johnston, Indiana Director of Management and Budget: “Most months through February exceeded estimate. That would total $100 million. But in March, we had our first significant difference, an erosion of 6% and $70 million. Our revenues missed our estimate by all categories.”
- Johnston said the state is considering a new model if necessary, to reflect missing the initial forecast.
- Johnston said April and June tend to be the largest months in terms of revenue. “What will show up in April’s numbers are all the steps we have to do to fight this public health emergency. We know the descent will be steep and rapid. What we don’t know is what the pace of the recovery will be.”
- Johnston said the first of three federal packages was targeted to public health. Indiana received $10.6 million and was targeted for purchasing PPE. The second package was targeted to food and nutrition aid, as well as unemployment insurance.
- The third package (CARES Act) is anticipated to fund Indiana with $3 billion. $250 million is for existing programs that the state already administers — Health and Human Services like FSSA child care development and DCS child welfare, labor, emergency food and WIC services, housing and urban development and grants to criminal justice.
- $500 million from the CARES Act will be allocated to K-12 and higher education programs. Johnston said K-12 distribution will be based on Title I share. Higher education funding will be based on the share of students who have Pell grants vs. those who do not.
- $2.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury Coronavirus Relief Fund will be used towards costs the state incurred from March-December 2020
- Johnston said the state is setting up its own team to manage these funds
- Johnston: “While it is a sizeable amount of money, we cannot build expectations beyond this funding that we cannot fulfill.”
- Jim Schellinger, Indiana Secretary of Commerce, says the Indiana Economic Relief and Recovery Team will plan, administer and account for relief funds for state and local government, businesses and individuals.
- Schellinger said a transition to economic recovery includes building a return to economic activity in a safe way, adapting government and business operations post-COVID-19 and using what was learned from coronavirus.
- Schellinger: “When we get through this to the new norm, we will take economic development to a new level.”
- Holcomb on Indiana’s eventual recovery: “We will rise again.”
- Holcomb reiterates that all health care workers have been directed to postpone any elective and non-urgent procedures, including abortions.
- Regarding domestic violence increasing in Indianapolis, Holcomb said “We’ll continue to work with local law enforcement as we have, but by no means if you’re in an unsafe environment right now should you remain there. There are people who are willing and wanting to help you get out of that situation.” People feeling unsafe can call 1-800-799-7233.
- Jen Sullivan, FSSA secretary, said “we must and will continue to work with communities to make sure individuals are safe. We all need to survive this together. Not only is our physical health at stake, but our mental health is too.”
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