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Wednesday, April 1, 2020
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Gov. Holcomb and Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody announce the May primary has been rescheduled for June 2 due to the pandemic.
Gov. Holcomb and Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody announce the May primary has been rescheduled for June 2 due to the pandemic.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 10:02 AM

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS – For more than two centuries, Hoosiers have participated in democracy by going to their local polling place to vote. In normal times they chat with their neighbors as they wait in line.

These are not normal times.

Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody combined in a letter earlier this month calling for expanded absentee balloting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that signaled what Gov. Eric Holcomb announced last Friday: A delayed primary until June 2. 

“The coronavirus pandemic is causing all of us to consider precautionary measures related to group gatherings and general interaction with other people, and Election Day is no exception,” Hupfer and Zody wrote. “For their safety, the safety of poll workers, absentee voter board members, and election administrators, and the safety of all Hoosiers, allowing maximum flexibility, while preserving a citizen’s right to vote, is paramount.”

Last Wednesday, the Indiana Election Commission voted unanimously to move the primary to June 2. At its April 22 meeting, the discussion will likely turn to how the Nov. 3 election will be conducted. On Monday, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause and the advocacy group Indiana Vote By Mail urged the commission to expand vote by mail for the general election. Specifically, the groups urged the commission to: Extend access to “no-excuse” absentee voting to all voters in the general election, as well as the primary; Send all registered voters an absentee ballot by mail, with the state covering those costs (as opposed to requiring all voters to apply for an absentee ballot); Clarify how the signature match process to verify voter identity will be done; Provide rules for the efficient counting of a significantly larger number of mail-in ballots.

It came as media reports revealed that Porter and Hamilton county election officials were seeking to entire high school students to serve as primary poll workers because many poll personnel are self-quarantining. “I’m struggling” to fill positions, Democratic Party Chairman Jeff Chidester said. Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Williams said, “If you’re out of school and would like to help us we’d love to have you. A lot of the seniors who typically fill these roles just can’t do it this year, so we’re hoping the younger generation will step forward and fulfill their civic duty."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, on Wednesday warned that the coronavirus could keep returning as a “seasonal, cyclic thing,” like the flu. "We need to be prepared that we'll get a cycle around the second time.”
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  • By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — It is becoming apparent that Indiana and the U.S. will not duplicate South Korea’s coronavirus response with widespread testing to determine and isolate vectors and victims, which would then reopen society for business and pleasure. Health experts ranging from the now famous Dr. Tony Fauci to Indiana University’s Prof. Aaron Carroll had been telling us for weeks that testing was the key. Dr. Carroll, writing in The Atlantic with Harvard Unversity’s Dr. Ashish Jha, said, “We can create a third path. We can decide to meet this challenge head-on. It is absolutely within our capacity to do so. We could develop tests that are fast, reliable, and ubiquitous. If we screen everyone, and do so regularly, we can let most people return to a more normal life. We can reopen schools and places where people gather. If we can be assured that the people who congregate aren’t infectious, they can socialize.” While the World Health Organization and epidemiologists from around the globe say that widespread testing is the key to defeating COVID-19 and reopening commerce, Hoosier leaders seem to be saying that’s not going to happen. Of 6.85 million Hoosiers, only 3,356 Hoosiers had been tested by midnight Tuesday, while the death toll rose to 14 and the number of cases spiked to 477.  Now as the U.S. and Indiana populations steeply head up the pandemic curve, Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box said Tuesday, “I want to emphasize we’re still in the early parts of this outbreak. We will continue to see more cases. Every state is having to adapt daily as the situation changes. That includes how we investigate cases. Across the country states are finding the traditional approach to investigating cases and tracking every single contact of every person who tests positive is not sustainable." With the state’s capital city poised to join the ranks of American cities under siege from the coronavirus, as supplies from the federal government are coming in at just a fraction of our needs, the Holcomb administration acknowledged Tuesday afternoon it is relying on “homegrown” solutions.

  • By MICHAEL HICKS
    MUNCIE — No individual human life is possessed of infinite value. At least, none of us actually behave as if it does. No matter how fully each of us wish to live, we inevitably take risks. We ride in automobiles, eat food prepared by unknown hands, trust in medicines and home appliances tested by scientists. At some point, nearly all of us take some risks to save another, care for or comfort a loved one, or volunteer for some public service that risks injury or death.  Economists have long worked to place a dollar value on individual human life. We do this so that we can better understand how rational people value their own lives and those of others. Some of that calculation is readily tractable. It is straightforward to estimate lifetime earnings or the contributions someone can make to their care of their family. Estimating the value that others place upon a life is harder. We acknowledge that companionship has value but is much harder to calculate than lifetime earnings. Of course, people don’t do mental mathematics this way anymore than a teenage gymnast on the uneven parallel bars solves differential equations in her head. Instead, we have social norms that help guide us. 
  • By PETE SEAT
    INDIANAPOLIS  — Do we live to support the economy or does the economy live to support us? Do we learn new skills to keep the economic engine humming? Or do we learn new skills to advance ourselves and our careers to the betterment of our families and futures? The answers to these questions, being debated in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, are beginning to fracture the Republican Party. On one side sits Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican in the high-risk age demographic, who lamented that he was not consulted before states imposed stay-at-home orders. “No one reached out to me and said, as a senior citizen, are you willing to take a chance on your survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for your children and grandchildren? And if that’s the exchange, I’m all in.”  He, like other Republicans, believes the economy is paramount. Public health is no reason to grind to a halt the wheels of economic growth, mobility and vitality. When given the choice, as we are seeing right now, Patrick’s preference would be to allow the market to operate unhindered and for businesses, and Americans, to choose their own adventure.  President Donald J. Trump, according to media reports, is similarly concerned about the stability of the markets and the ability of the economy to weather this storm. 
  • By MORTON J. MARCUS
    INDIANAPOLIS  —  The virus pandemic has disrupted our lives and, in many cases, done serious harm to our livelihoods. Working from home helps some, but not all workers can benefit. Without such serious disruption, we take commuting for granted. Most Hoosiers work and live in the same county, but there are many who cross county and state lines for work. In doing so, they move a lot of money. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2018, workers in Indiana earned $220.6 billion. But not all of that appeared in their paychecks. They, and their employers, contributed $24.7 billion (11.2%) to federal government insurance programs (Social Security, Disability Insurance, Medicare, etc.) that provide our economic safety net. Thus, working for Hoosier businesses and governments netted $195.9 billion. Yet, as we know, “foreigners” from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Kentucky come into our state and take home money earned here. Fortunately, Hoosiers also cross state lines and bring back money they earn in those “alien” lands.
  • By JACK COLWELL
    SOUTH BEND  — Bernie Sanders still could win the presidential election. For Donald Trump. He did it before. He could do it again. Perhaps by the time you read this, Sanders will have suspended his campaign and endorsed Joe Biden. He should have if he is concerned about Democratic unity to defeat President Trump. Or is it all about Bernie? With the pandemic, it’s also an ethical imperative for Sanders to put ego aside and admit his race for the Democratic nomination has failed, thus allowing more people to stay away from the polls in remaining presidential primaries and reduce risk of coronavirus spread.
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  • Holcomb, health leaders reveal plans for the
coming coronavirus surge

    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - Indiana unveiled its coronavirus “surge plan” Monday afternoon, with Gov. Eric Holcomb signing several executive orders while health officials said they are doubling the number of Intensive Care Unit beds and ventilators. “Just as the world turns, coronavirus knows no geography,” Holcomb said during a virtual press conference. “There will be a beginning, a middle and an end.” Clearly, Hoosier leaders believe the beginning surge is at hand and the governor indicated he is likely to extend the stay at home order past the original April 7 date. Health Commissioner Kristina Box said the “best modeling” suggests Indiana will see its peak will arrive in mid- to late-April. She added that it could be a lower, more prolonged peak, stretching into mid-May.”

  • Study of Indiana COVID-19 cases predicts mid-April peak, 2,400 deaths by August
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - While Indiana officials have been tight lipped on the number of intensive care unit beds and ventilators it has, a University of Washington state-by-state projections study of COVID-19 impacts says there are 706 ICU beds and the state will need 854 ventilators. By Aug. 4, it projects 2,400 Hoosiers will die, reaching a peak of 320 deaths per day by mid-April. Indiana is projected to reach its peak of just over 30,000 cases around April 17. It says the state has 8,485 available beds, and will need 10,458, for a bed shortage of 1,973. It projects there are 706 Intensive Care Unit beds available, while the demand will be 1,582 beds, for an ICU bed shortage of 876 beds. It projects Indiana will need 854 invasive ventilators, though it does not specify how many ventilators the state has. 
  • HPI Analysis: Primary election delayed, but what about November?
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS  – For more than two centuries, Hoosiers have participated in democracy by going to their local polling place to vote. In normal times they chat with their neighbors as they wait in line. These are not normal times. Republican Chairman Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Chairman John Zody combined in a letter earlier this month calling for expanded absentee balloting in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that signalled what Gov. Eric Holcomb announced last Friday: A delayed primary until June 2.  In announcing the rescheduling of the primary, Holcomb reiterated his view stated on Thursday that the May 5 primary “needed to be pushed back to ensure the safety of county employees, poll workers and voters.” He added that he wanted to give Lawson, Hupfer and Zody “time to build a consensus.” On Wednesday, the Indiana Election Commission voted unanimously to move the primary to June 2. At its April 22 meeting, the discussion will likely turn to how the Nov. 3 election will be conducted.

  • Indiana descends from its economic peak in February into the coronavirus valley
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS - While there’s Mount Baldy in Michigan City, Fort Wayne is known as the “Summit City” and Brown County features Browning Mountain a few miles past the Story Inn, Indiana is essentially sans prominent elevation. But February 2020 will become known as Indiana’s peak when it comes to employment. It was that month that a record number 3.29 million of us went to work. There was an estimated 105,177 unemployed and seeking jobs. On Feb. 29, the United States also recorded a fateful milestone: It’s first coronavirus death. It wouldn’t be until March 6 that the first Hoosier was reported with the virus, with just a dozen reported cases on March 12, and with an ominous pause, no new cases on Friday, March 13. Since then the cases have exploded, to 76 reported on March 22 and then 170 on Wednesday, and 338 on Thursday.
  • Horse Race: Trump gets modest pandemic poll bump
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY

    INDIANAPOLIS — In the midst of this pandemic crisis, President Trump has received a polling bump. The latest came Tuesday in a POLITICO/Morning Consult poll, 25% of voters surveyed said Trump is doing an “excellent” job handling the virus, and another 17% said he is doing a “good” job. But almost as many, 39%, said he’s doing a “poor” job, and 13% rate his handling of the crisis as “just fair.” A week ago, an ABC/Ipsos Poll showed that 55% of Americans approve of the president’s management of the crisis, compared to 43% who disapprove. That was up from 43% approval the week before. It probably reflected the shift in tone during Trump’s March 16 White House pandemic briefing, when he said, “It’s bad. It’s bad. We’re going to hopefully be a best case and not a worst case. We have an invisible enemy, we have a problem that a month ago nobody ever thought about.”
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  • Club For Growth endorses Spartz in 5th CD GOP primary
    “Growing up in Soviet Ukraine and witnessing the devastation of socialism has made Victoria Spartz a principled, free market conservative who understands the importance of a strong and free economy to Indiana families. Spartz has proven herself in business and in government as a state senator, and we are looking forward to supporting her campaign.” - Club For Growth President David McIntosh, endorsing 5th CD Republican candidate Victoria Spartz. It is the first major endorsement for State Sen. Spartz in the crowded GOP primary field. McIntosh, a former Indiana congressman and 2000 GOP gubernatorial nominee, lost the 5th CD primary to U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, who is retiring.
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  • Pence, Holcomb, Buttigieg head 2020 HPI Power 50
    By BRIAN A. HOWEY in Indianapolis
    and MARK SCHOEFF JR., 
    in Washington

    As we unveil the 2020 version of the Howey Politics Indiana Power 50 List, Hoosiers appear to be relatively satisfied with their state government, unsure about the federals and specifically President Trump, and are most concerned about health care and the economy.

    These are the latest survey numbers from the We Ask America Poll conducted in early December for the Indiana Manufacturers Association. They accentuate the formulation of our annual Power 50 list headed by Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Eric Holcomb, former South Bend mayor and Democratic presidential contender Pete Buttigieg, and the state’s two Republican senators who will likely sit in judgment (and acquittal) of President Trump in an impeachment trial later this month. 

    As Pence appears to be heading off thinly veiled attempts by Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump to get him off the 2020 ticket, Hoosiers by 47.4% approve to 47.7% disapprove of President Trump’s job performance. This is consistent with 2019 polling by Ball State University and Morning Consult. On the national right/wrong track, just 37% of registered voters in Indiana feel that the country is headed in the right direction, while a majority, 52%, say that things have gotten off on the wrong track, including 51% of independents and 26% of Republicans. Among female voters, the right/wrong track split is 29%/58%.

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