The Indiana State Department of Health reported 63 additional confirmed deaths on Wednesday, bringing the state’s total to 964. The state announced more than 17,100 total confirmed cases, with more than 91,500 Hoosiers tested.
Indiana will launch a privately-run call center to take the lead on contact tracing for COVID-19 – interviewing positive patients and finding out who they’ve been around to track the spread of the virus.
State Health Commissioner Kris Box calls contact tracing a critical part of fighting the ongoing pandemic.
“We must be able to test individuals quickly and isolate them if they are positive,” Box says. “And then, contact individuals who have been in close contact with them and let them know that they must quarantine themselves for 14 days.”
All Hoosiers who test positive for COVID-19 will get an email and text, asking them to contact the call center. If they don’t do so within four hours, a call center employee will call them to develop that contact history.
Indiana Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers says it’s too soon for Gov. Eric Holcomb to begin loosening COVID-19 restrictions on Hoosier businesses.
Dr. Myers, a former state health commissioner, says he thinks the state needs to increase its testing capacity to 10,000 tests a day before some businesses are allowed to reopen.
Holcomb has indicated some businesses might be allowed to reopen in the coming days, if data shows health care systems aren’t being overwhelmed.
But Myers says the state needs more time.
“We haven’t seen a sustained decrease in the number of cases. We certainly know that there are pockets that are being found every day of clusters that have not been adequately addressed," Myer says. "So, that worries me deeply.”
Myers also announced proposals Wednesday to provide more state-level support for Hoosier small businesses suffering from the COVID-19 crisis – but it was short on specifics.
The former state health commissioner says the federal government’s stimulus programs aimed at small businesses have fallen far short of the need. And that’s why he wants Indiana to create a state-run program to support those businesses.
Myers, a health care executive, suggests creating a task force – made up of small business owners – to help set up the program and develop ways to ensure the money gets to those who need it most.
Gov. Eric Holcomb says that he’ll detail the future of the “Stay-At-Home” order Friday and may give safety guidelines to allow some businesses to reopen. But workplaces will likely need to operate differently to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In a webinar hosted by the Indiana Chamber, employers were advised to take steps like providing handwashing stations, conducting daily temperature checks, and limiting access to communal areas.
David Krause is chairman of the American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Indoor Environmental Quality Committee. He says the most effective measure would be to let employees work from home if possible, with masks and gloves being the least effective.
President Donald Trump declared meat processing plants “critical infrastructure” to keep facilities operating through the COVID-19 crisis. Indiana is home to two pork production facilities that have closed temporarily due to increased cases among workers.
The National Pork Producers Council says the disruption has already hurt farmers with nowhere to sell their hogs. The organization says producers will need help as they face rapidly-dropping prices and expect millions of hogs will have to be euthanized.
Cass County, which confirmed more than 700 new coronavirus infections last weekend, is expected to see case numbers continue to increase into next week, according to Logansport Memorial Hospital CEO Perry Gay.
Logansport Memorial participated in a study last month that estimated when different regions might hit their coronavirus peaks.
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“Our peak at that point [a month ago] was looking at about May 3,” Gay says. “So at that point, we were thinking we’re doing pretty good because [we didn’t] think we’re ever going to reach our peak. Now, it seems like we’re actually going to pretty much hit that number. If I had to guess I would say that the beginning of next week is when we would hit our peak.”
The largely rural county has 1,125 confirmed cases of COVID-19, third-most in the state. It has reported three deaths so far.
Tippecanoe County’s confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 102 Wednesday. Tippecanoe County Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler says five of those cases are employees of a Tyson Foods facility in Logansport, which shut down temporarily after workers there tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“The situation in Cass County is affecting our community, and will most likely continue to affect it for some time, and we cannot lose sight of that as we make decisions here locally about what we need to do and how we stay the course, in an effort to ensure we keep our numbers here as low as possible,” says Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski.
Adler says Tippecanoe County’s case surge is still expected to hit in the first or second week of May. Indiana’s stay-at-home order is currently set to end on Friday, May 1.
Local musicians are taking a major hit without live audiences and regular gigs. How has the pandemic affected their daily life, their income, and their creativity?
All IN talks to Hoosier musicians about what relief is available to them, and how they're holding up. And while they’ve got the talent with them, they hear some music too.
The Amish community in Elkhart County has been hard at work over the last month sewing and donating face masks. The group collectively donated roughly 4,500 masks to Goshen Health.
The Amish community worked together from all different church districts in Middlebury to create the masks. Some sewed, others gathered fabric and supplies, and some delivered masks.
Paul Schlabach is part of many families who pitched in. He says the Amish felt inspired by scripture, the need for masks, and the desire to do meaningful work during quarantine.
“Jesus is not down here to make face masks, but he’ll make people available that can make face masks," he says. "We’re all called to be the hands and feet of Jesus and this is our small way of helping out.”
This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.