Coronavirus: State To Launch PPE Marketplace, Schools Still Wait For Answers In Reopen Plan

May 6, 2020

 

Barringer's Tavern, on the near southside of Indianapolis, has remained open for carryout since the beginning of the "Stay-At-Home" order.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 62 additional confirmed deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,213. The state announced more than 21,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 115,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Schools Still Wait For Answers As Holcomb Begins Reopening Businesses

Many Indiana schools are waiting for answers even after Gov. Eric Holcomb rolled out his plan for reopening the state.

School buildings are still closed through June 30, and that hasn't changed even with the governor's state reopening plan. Schools can and have been using buildings for some essential things like preparing and distributing meals and learning materials, as well as offering child care as directed through previous executive orders. 

READ MORE: Governor Holcomb Outlines How – And Why – The State Will Reopen

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But the governor's new order to ease pandemic prevention restrictions that were put in place weeks ago is allowing some schools to still make some plans. School corporations around the state have shared ideas and tentative dates for adapted graduation ceremonies and celebrations, and for students to pick up their belongings from school. 

BMV Opens Up Some Branches For In-Person Customers

Bureau of Motor Vehicle locations across the state are starting to reopen to more in-person customers this week, with a goal to open all branches by Memorial Day.

The BMV has only been open during the pandemic for truckers who needed their commercial driver’s licenses.

Fifty-five BMV branches are open statewide for in-person business, with the goal of having one open branch within an hour of every Hoosier.

Commissioner Peter Lacy says visits are by appointment only.

“We are going to have a 30-minute barrier between each customer so we can make sure that we wipe down all hard surfaces between customers coming into our branch,” Lacy says.

State To Launch PPE Marketplace For Hoosier Small Businesses

Indiana will launch a PPE marketplace Wednesday for Hoosier small businesses – many of which must use the safety gear under the state’s reopening guidelines.

The portal – run by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation – will connect businesses of no more than 150 employees with Indiana companies that are producing the critical supplies.

IEDC Chief of Staff Luke Bosso says businesses will receive bundles through the marketplace – free of charge, at the beginning – based on the size of their company.

Bosso says Hoosier businesses should view the marketplace as a backup, not a primary source for PPE.

How Will St. Joseph County Mask Order Be Enforced?

The St. Joseph County health order requiring residents wear face masks in public started Tuesday. But there’s been some confusion about how and if the order can be enforced.

The order requires people to wear a face mask when entering a closed public space or when social distancing can’t be maintained. It also requires businesses to provide hand sanitizer to customers. 

Andrew Jones is a lawyer in St. Joseph and surrounding counties. He says health departments are given the power to create these orders to keep people safe during a health crisis.

“When you have a situation where my personal health is put at risk by the actions of other people, that’s where the government has the responsibility and the right to get involved to protect me,” Jones says.

Jones says someone could be unknowingly putting another person at risk by not wearing a mask.

University Labs Help States Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

As states move toward reopening their economies, officials are emphasizing the need to expand their capacity to test for COVID-19.

But many say their efforts to ramp up testing are still being hampered by a shortage of supplies. To help fill the gaps, some state public health labs looked to state universities for help. 

Labs at Purdue University in Indiana and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, for example, are providing materials and expertise to their states’ public health labs. 

And at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, dozens of lab technicians are working to produce viral transport medium. It’s one of several critical components for COVID-19 testing, and the technicians are producing enough for tens of thousands of tests to be performed weekly at state public health labs.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to have a job amidst this pandemic when a lot of people don’t, and to contribute to helping our public health and medical systems get through it,” says Justin Lange, a research technician working on the project. 

Coronavirus Testing Underway in Vanderburgh County

Researchers in Evansville are conducting extensive testing this week for both current coronavirus infections and previous exposure. 

Clinicians are at Vanderburgh County businesses getting both nasal swab and blood samples from up to a thousand test subjects through this Friday.

The study's principal investigator, Dr. Majed Koleilat of Deaconess Clinic in Evansville, says once the results are returned, they’ll have a much more accurate picture of how deeply the coronavirus has infected the community.

Indianapolis Nurse Responds To New York Governor's Call For Help

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked healthcare workers nationwide to come help his state battle the COVID-19 pandemic. An Indianapolis nurse answered the call for help.

Carolyn Scott returned home to Indianapolis to work at Eskenazi Health as a registered nurse in October after spending time as a traveling nurse in California.

Fast forward five months — and a global pandemic was overwhelming hospitals and health care workers. New York, one of the earliest states to issue an emergency order, starting canvassing the country for medical staff who could come help. 

Scott was licensed in New York. The governor’s mission and leadership struck a chord with her. After some time debating and weighing the needs of her own hospital in Indianapolis she decided to go. 

"I was really proud of how they were handling the situation and I felt they were adequately staffed," Scott says. "So I felt I should come out here and try to do my little part."

Notre Dame's Athletic Director Weighs In On What The Fall Sports Season May Look Like

College sports are likely to look completely different when and if schools and seasons resume in the fall.

With each state making different decisions about reopening, teams are concerned about keeping collegiate athletics fair if teams have to start their seasons at different times.

Jack Swarbrick is the athletic director at the University of Notre Dame. 

“You’re still going to have circumstances where schools aren’t open, and others are. Or states haven’t reopened and some have,” he says. “I think the bigger challenge for us is the consequence that will have on competing in the fall.”

Swarbrick says Notre Dame is looking to the NCAA to figure out how to regulate and keep competitions and records as fair as possible. 

He says the university is also still looking at what practices, tailgating, facilities and game day traditions might look like.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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.