As Indiana announces the first death from the novel coronavirus in the state, Governor Eric Holcomb has detailed additional efforts by the state to help slow the spread of the virus. Among the new directives, the governor is requiring all bars, nightclubs and restaurants to close to in-person patrons, though they may provide takeout and delivery services through the end of the month. Additionally, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has declared a local disaster emergency for Marion County in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Holcomb’s office adds the state will adhere to guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention limiting in-person events to no more than 50 people.
Currently, the state says 273 public school districts in Indiana are closed, using e-learning days, or on spring break and have announced a future closure. The Indiana Department of Education is working with the remaining 16 public school districts to determine their next steps.
Holcomb is encouraging hospitals and ambulatory surgical centers to cancel or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical procedures immediately. “This action will help the healthcare system conserve resources and personnel necessary to meet emerging health needs,” the state said in a news release.
The state has also postponed the inaugural Indiana Global Economic Summit, which was set to take place in late April. The summit, which was first announced in December, has been described as the “Business Super Bowl” and was meant to bring together CEOs from businesses throughout the world as well as government, academic and other business leaders.
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development is suspending rules requiring certain unemployment insurance claimants to physically appear at a WorkOne location to receive reemployment services for the next four weeks. “This will ensure that individuals who may be symptomatic do not have to physically appear to continue their unemployment insurance eligibility.”
The state says the DWD will also request flexibility under state and federal law to expand eligibility for those seeking unemployment assistance.
Additionally, Holcomb’s office says state employees will “maximize the use of remote work” and those over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions are being advised to work from home. The state is also closing the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites, as well as the White River State Park visitors center in downtown Indianapolis.
In response to the governor’s directives, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced it would also follow the 50-person limit for public gatherings. In addition to the closing of bars, nightclubs and restaurants, the mayor said the city would also require movie theaters, entertainment venues, gyms and fitness facilities to close.
“These new restrictions come at a heavy cost for our community, but guidance from public-health experts makes clear they are necessary to reduce the spread of the coronavirus,” said Mayor Hogsett. “As we work to put in place protections for affected businesses and employees at a local level, I urge our partners at the state and federal level to continue to move swiftly to enact unemployment policies and small-business-assistance programs that can provide immediate assistance to Indianapolis residents.”
Hogsett has also issued an executive order declaring a local disaster emergency in Marion County, as well as a watch-level local travel advisory. The advisory, the mayor’s office says, advises against travel except when essential, which includes traveling to and from work, in emergency situations, or to purchase groceries and pick-up prescriptions or food.
Additionally, the city has launched an online tool to connect those impacted by the pandemic with community resources.
You can learn more about the state’s response to the coronavirus by clicking here.