IU HEALTH WARNS OF COVID SPIKE AFTER INDY 500:  Indiana University Health fears the Indianapolis 500, even with a reduced crowd, “could lead to a spike in COVID-19 infections.” The health system is calling on the race organizers to consider an alternative to a race with fans (Inside Indiana Business). Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22 announced attendance for the 104th running of the race on August 23 will be approximately 25% of capacity. Face coverings will be required for all attendees. Ticket sales ended Friday. IMS also presented its nearly 100-page plan with its guidelines and protocols to address the need to control the spread of the coronavirus. IU Health, though, also notes the other places where gatherings could occur — restaurants, bars, accommodations and more — as being a concern beyond the track.

 

UNPRECEDENTED COLLAPSE OF U.S. ECONOMY: The coronavirus pandemic sent the U.S. economy plunging by a record-shattering 32.9% annual rate last quarter and is still inflicting damage across the country, squeezing already struggling businesses and forcing a wave of layoffs that shows no sign of abating (AP). The economy's collapse in the April-June quarter, stunning in its speed and depth, came as a resurgence of the viral outbreak has pushed businesses to close for a second time in many areas. The government's estimate of the second-quarter fall in the gross domestic product has no comparison since records began in 1947. The previous worst quarterly contraction – at 10%, less than a third of what was reported Thursday – occurred in 1958 during the Eisenhower administration. So steep was the economic fall last quarter that most analysts expect a sharp rebound for the current July-September period. But with coronavirus cases rising in the majority of states and the Republican Senate proposing to scale back aid to the unemployed, the pain is likely to continue and potentially worsen in the months ahead. The plunge in GDP “underscores the unprecedented hit to the economy from the pandemic,” said Andrew Hunter, senior US economist at Capital Economics. “We expect it will take years for that damage to be fully recovered.”

 

MUTZ, DAVIS TO ADVOCATE EXPANDED VOTE BY MAIL; HOLCOMB OPPOSED: Former Lt. Govs. John Mutz and Kathy Davis will advocate for expanded vote by mail at a Zoom press conference at 3 p.m. today (Howey Politics Indiana). It comes two days after Gov. Eric Holcomb resisted extending to the November election widespread mail-in balloting that 500,000 Hoosiers used in the delayed June 2 election. Asked why he is not going that route for November with COVID-19 increasing in the state and a potential lack of poll workers, Holcomb said, "When we delayed an election to June 2, a full month from the time we were contemplating, we didn't know how long we were sheltering in place, staying at home, hunkering down. Now Hoosiers can go out; now Hoosiers can vote almost a month in advance from that final in-person Election Day voting, and there are various options when you can't vote in person over a month-long period. You have those options as well."

 

TRUMP SUGGESTS DELAYING ELECTION: "With Universal Mail-In Voting (not Absentee Voting, which is good), 2020 will be the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history. It will be a great embarrassment to the USA. Delay the Election until people can properly, securely and safely vote???" - President Trump in a Thursday morning tweet (Howey Politics Indiana). It would take an act of Congress to delay a presidential election. The date for the presidential election has been set in law by Congress since 1845 as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The Constitution mandates that the new Congress must be sworn in on Jan. 3, and that the new president’s term must begin on Jan. 20. Those dates cannot be changed just by the passage of normal legislation.  “Mark my words, I think he is going to try to kick back the election somehow, come up with some rationale why it can’t be held,” Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said in April.

 

'STRONGMAN' TRUMP BECOMES A HECKLER AT HIS OWN GOVERNMENT: For several years, it has been the stuff of his opponents’ nightmares: that President Trump, facing the prospect of defeat in the 2020 election, would declare by presidential edict that the vote had been delayed or canceled. Never mind that no president has that power, that the timing of federal elections has been fixed since the 19th century and that the Constitution sets an immovable expiration date on the president’s term. Given Mr. Trump’s contempt for the legal limits on his office and his oft-expressed admiration for foreign dictators, it hardly seemed far-fetched to imagine he would at least attempt the gambit (Burns, New York Times). But when the moment came on Thursday, with Mr. Trump suggesting for the first time that the election could be delayed, his proposal appeared as impotent as it was predictable — less a stunning assertion of his authority than yet another lament that his political prospects have dimmed amid a global public-health crisis. Indeed, his comments on Twitter came shortly after the Commerce Department reported that American economic output contracted last quarter at the fastest rate in recorded history, underscoring one of Mr. Trump’s most severe vulnerabilities as he pursues a second term. Far from a strongman, Mr. Trump has lately become a heckler in his own government, promoting medical conspiracy theories on social media, playing no constructive role in either the management of the coronavirus pandemic or the negotiation of an economic rescue plan in Congress — and complaining endlessly about the unfairness of it all.

 

REPUBLICANS REBUKE TRUMP ON ELECTION DELAY: President Donald Trump repeatedly tests the Republican Party’s limits on issues including race, trade and immigration. Now he has struck a boundary (AP). GOP officials from New Hampshire to Mississippi to Iowa quickly pushed back against Trump’s suggestion on Thursday that it might be necessary to delay the November election — which he cannot do without congressional approval — because of the unfounded threat of voter fraud. They reassured voters that the election would proceed on the constitutionally mandated day as it has for more than two centuries. Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was especially blunt: “All I can say is, it doesn’t matter what one individual in this country says. We still are a country based on the rule of law, and we want to follow the law.” New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu vowed his state would hold its November elections as scheduled: “End of story.” Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who leads the House Republican Conference, said, “The resistance to this idea among Republicans is overwhelming.” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “I guarantee you the election will be Nov. 3 of 2020.”

 

U.S. POSTAL SERVICE EXPERIENCING BACKLOGS: The U.S. Postal Service is experiencing days-long backlogs of mail across the country after a top Trump donor running the agency put in place new procedures described as cost-cutting efforts, alarming postal workers who warn that the policies could undermine their ability to deliver ballots on time for the November election (Washington Post). As President Trump ramps up his unfounded attacks on mail balloting as being susceptible to widespread fraud, postal employees and union officials say the changes implemented by Trump fundraiser-turned-postmaster general Louis DeJoy are contributing to a growing perception that mail delays are the result of a political effort to undermine absentee voting. The backlog comes as the president, who is trailing presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the polls, has escalated his efforts to cast doubt about the integrity of the November vote, which is expected to yield record numbers of mail ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

30 MILLION AMERICANS LOSE RESCUE BENEFITS: Roughly 30 million Americans will see their incomes plunge dramatically, worsening a coronavirus-induced recession that has already led to the steepest drop in U.S. economic output on record (Washington Post). The Senate adjourned for the weekend on Thursday without reaching an agreement on a new aid bill, meaning that most out-of-work Americans will go from receiving $930 a week to $330 as emergency unemployment benefits expire. The Senate’s inaction comes as new jobless claims are once again rising, business closures are becoming permanent and tens of millions of Americans say they didn’t have enough to eat in the past week. Thursday marked the fourth consecutive day that the United States reported more than 1,000 coronavirus-related fatalities, bringing the nationwide death toll closer to 150,000. New infections have started to level off in some of the hardest-hit states, including Florida and California, but there were still nearly 70,000 new cases reported nationwide on Thursday.

 

INDY HEALTH OFFICIALS ALLOW SCHOOLS AT ONLY 50% CAPACITY: Indianapolis middle and high school buildings may operate at no more than 50% capacity in an effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, under a public health order announced Thursday by the Marion County Health Department (IBJ). Elementary schools, however, will be able to fully reopen for all students to return to classrooms five days a week. The public health order also calls for all students in third grade and above to wear masks, permanent seating charts, and staggered passing periods. Marion County Public Health Department Director Virginia Caine also recommended that high-risk teachers and students be allowed to opt out of in-person instruction. Many schools around the country are prioritizing bringing elementary school students back to classrooms because they appear to be less likely to become infected or spread the virus. Middle and high schools will likely have to use a hybrid model or offer virtual learning to meet the restrictions.

 

FORMER PRESIDENTS EULOGIZES REP. LEWIS: In a eulogy, former President Barack Obama praised the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis as an “American whose faith was tested again and again to produce a man of pure joy and unbreakable perseverance.” Mr. Obama said he “owed a great debt” to Mr. Lewis (New York Times). “We’re born with instructions to form a more perfect union,” the former president said. “Explicit in those words is the idea that we’re imperfect. That what gives each new generation purpose is to take up the unfinished work of the last and carry it further than any might have thought possible.” Mr. Obama asked those present to imagine the courage of a 20-year-old Mr. Lewis as he tried to “challenge an entire infrastructure of oppression” by riding up front on a segregated bus in the South. “America was built by John Lewises,” Mr. Obama said. “He as much as anyone in our history brought this country a little bit closer to our highest ideas. And someday when we do finish that long journey toward freedom, when we do form a more perfect union, whether it’s years from now or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries, John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.” “America was built by John Lewises,” he said. “When we do form a perfect union, whether it’s years from now or decades, or even if it takes another two centuries, John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.” GEORGE W. BUSH: “‘Listen, John and I had our disagreements of course. But in the America John Lewis fought for and the America I believe in, difference of opinion are inevitable elements and evidence of democracy in action,’ Bush said to applause. ‘We the people, including congressmen and presidents, can have different views on how to effect our union, while sharing the conviction that our nation, however flawed, is a good and noble one. We live in a better and nobler country today because of John Lewis.’” BILL CLINTON: “John always kept walking to reach the beloved community. He got into a lot of good trouble along the way but let’s not forget – he also developed along the way an uncanny ability to heal troubled waters. When he could have been angry, and cancel his adversaries, he tried to get converts instead. He thought his open hand was better than the clenched fist.”

 

USS INDIANAPOLIS LAYS WREATH FOR PREDECESSOR: The USS Indianapolis, commissioned at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor last year in the first commissioning of a U.S. Navy ship in Indiana history, laid a wreath at sea to commemorate the 75th anniversary of its predecessor, which was sunk in the Philippine Sea in the closing days of World War II (Pete, NWI Times). The U.S. Navy also placed a wreath at the USS Indianapolis Memorial on the canal in downtown Indianapolis. Its sinking is considered to be the deadliest naval disaster in American history. The Portland-class heavy cruiser, which completed a top-secret mission to deliver the first nuclear weapon ever used in combat, was struck by two torpedoes from a Japanese submarine a few minutes past midnight on July 30.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: For months President Trump and Vice President Pence have called into doubt the veracity of the coming election, suggesting widespread voting fraud surrounding mail-in ballots, when virtually none exist. President Trump's tweeted suggestion on Thursday that the November election be delayed was another pathetic assertion of this ruse, and it finally drew widespread rebuke from his Republican allies. This bizarre Trump suggestion came on the day of U.S. Rep. John Lewis's funeral, with eulogies from Presidents Bush43, Clinton and Obama, underscored this nation's legacy of a peaceful transfer of power. - Brian A. Howey



Campaigns

 

BUTTIGIEG ENDORSES INDIANA DEMOCRATS: Former Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg had endorsed Dr. Woody Myers for governor, Pat Hacket for 2nd CD, and Christina Hale for 5th CD (Howey Politics Indiana). "When we launched Win the Era, my goal was to continue addressing the issues I heard about from Americans every day on the trail, and do our part to meet this moment in keeping with the same values that motivated my campaign," Buttigieg said. "I am proud to announce that Win the Era is endorsing candidates running for statewide or federal office in Indiana. They are gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers and lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Linda Lawson, Attorney General candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel, and congressional candidates Christina Hale (IN-05) and Pat Hackett (IN-02).

 

ELKHART COUNCIL VACANCY CAUCUS SCHEDULED: Due to the resignation of Elkhart Councilman Gerry Roberts, a caucus has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday Aug. 12 to name a replacement to complete the term ending December 31, 2023 for the position of Elkhart City Council, 1st District. The caucus will take place at Beardsley Elementary School, 1027 McPherson Street, Elkhart.

 

Presidential 2020

 

GALLUP SHOWS TRUMP APPROVAL AT 41%; CONGRESS AT 18%: After hitting 20-year highs in April and May, Americans' Gallup approval of Congress continues its downward slide to 18%. The last time congressional approval was below 20% was in September 2019. The latest reading is from a Gallup poll conducted July 1-23 as coronavirus cases in the U.S. continued to spike, and Congress worked to negotiate another economic relief package. Congress' heightened approval ratings in the spring came on the heels of the first relief package, which was well-received by majorities of Americans across party lines. While partisans' approval ratings of the legislative branch have declined by double digits since May, Democrats' approval has fallen the most -- from 39% to 20%. At the same time, Republicans' approval has dropped from 24% to 14% and independents' from 32% to 21%. As Americans' approval of Congress drops, President Donald Trump's approval rating has been steady near 40% in June and July. Still, the current 41% remains well below the 49% earlier this year when the economy was in good shape, and Trump was enjoying a post-impeachment bounce.

 

TRUMP CAMPAIGN SUSPENDS TV ADVERTISING: President Trump’s campaign has temporarily paused its television advertising with less than 100 days to go before the election, a move that comes amid a broader shake-up in his faltering bid for a second term (Washington Post). Two weeks after Trump demoted former campaign manager Brad Parscale and replaced him with Bill Stepien, the reelection effort is reviewing its spending, messaging and strategy in an attempt to boost the president’s fortunes. Polls have shown Trump trailing presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden, as voters give the president low marks for his handling of the coronavirus. “With the leadership change in the campaign, there’s understandably a review and fine-tuning of the campaign’s strategy,” said a senior campaign official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “We’ll be back on the air shortly, even more forcefully exposing Joe Biden as a puppet of the radical left wing.”

 

PENCE AT COPS FOR TRUMP RALLY IN PA: Vowing to bring “peace and security to cities across America," Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday carried the Trump campaign's message of law and order to exurban Pennsylvania, a battleground state where Pence warned of a descent into chaos in big cities should presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden be elected (Huron Daily Tribune). At a “cops for Trump” rally outside in Greensburg, Pence warned of rising violence in cities, castigated Democrats' calls to defund police and framed November's election as being about safety and security. The theme is emerging as a key Trump campaign message that plays on the violence that has cropped up alongside demonstrations and unrest after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. “When Democrats call for defunding police, remember what’s at stake: law and order, safety and the peace of mind that you and your family and your children have every right to enjoy as citizens of the greatest nation on Earth,” Pence told the crowd in southwestern Pennsylvania, about 24 miles (15 km) southeast of Pittsburgh.

 

HERMAN CAIN DIES OF COVID: Herman Cain — the maverick American business czar and Republican presidential candidate who campaigned for a sweeping tax reform plan called 9-9-9 — died Thursday morning after a monthlong battle with the coronavirus. He was 74 (Newsmax). Cain, who recently joined Newsmax TV and was set to launch a weekly show, died in an Atlanta-area hospital where he had been critically ill for several weeks. He was admitted on July 1, two days after being diagnosed with COVID-19. Ten days before, Cain had attended a rally for President Donald Trump in Tulsa, Oklahoma. But it is not known for sure where Cain, co-chairman of Black Voices for Trump, was infected. He had been on a whirlwind travel schedule in June, stopping in multiple cities. "He was one of the most original thinkers in American politics," veteran political consultant Dick Morris told Newsmax, noting "he was creative, had strong convictions, an open mind, and a deep sense of patriotism."



Congress

 

CONGRESS HONORS USS INDIANAPOLIS WITH GOLD MEDAL: Congress has awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, its highest honor, to surviving crew members of the USS Indianapolis, the ship that delivered key components of the first nuclear bomb and was later sunk by Japan during World War II (AP). “In an instant, her crew went from fighting the battles without to fighting the battles within,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, one of a host of congressional and Navy leaders who spoke at Thursday’s virtual ceremony honoring the eight surviving crew members on the 75th anniversary of the sinking.

 

DEMS REJECT TRUMP SHORT TERM RESCUE FIX: With aid expiring, the White House offered a short-term extension Thursday of a $600 weekly unemployment benefit that has helped keep families and the economy afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Democrats rejected it, saying President Donald Trump’s team failed to grasp the severity of the crisis (AP). Democratic leaders panned the idea in late-night talks at the Capitol, opting to keep the pressure on for a much more expensive and sweeping bill that would deliver aid to state and local governments, help for the poor and funding for schools and colleges to address the pandemic. Without action, the benefit runs out Friday. “They want to do one small thing that won’t solve the problem,” said top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer after meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows. “We have to have a bill, but they just don’t realize how big it has to be,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

 

BRAUN OPPOSED TO ADDITIONAL SPENDING: Negotiations are still going on as House Democrats and Senate Republicans try to come to a consensus on another coronavirus relief package. “They want to give the American people another three-point-five trillion in debt for a bunch of extraneous stuff, unrelated,” said Indiana Sen. Mike Braun of the HEROES Act passed by House Democrats back in May (WIBC). Braun feels any relief package must include incentives for people to get back to work and for businesses to continue reopening. “We need people to get back,” Braun said. “You do not want to have perverse incentive of encouraging people to not come back to the jobs they had before. 90-percent of people are working. Four-percent is considered full employment. So, you’ve got six-percent out there that has still be dislocated by government.”

 

YOUNG SAYS KASSIG'S ISIS KILLERS NEED JUSTICE: During a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) addressed the murders of Peter Kassig and three other Americans who were kidnapped and lost their lives at the hands of ISIS terrorists. Senator Young pressed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on the need to bring the terrorists to justice (Howey Politics Indiana). In October 2013, Indiana native and former Army Ranger, Peter Kassig was on a mission of mercy, delivering humanitarian aid to the suffering people of Syria when he was taken hostage by ISIS.  After months of torture and hardship by ISIS terrorists, and in spite of his embrace of Islam, he was brutally beheaded. The three other Americans killed by ISIS included James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller. “Since that time, some of the murderers, known as ‘the Beatles’ have been killed in U.S.-led drone strikes, but others remain at large and must be brought to justice. I believe that the United States government should work tirelessly, independently and with the cooperation of allies, to hunt down the killers of these Americans and bring them to justice here in the United States of America,” said Senator Young in the hearing. “Mr. Secretary, do you agree with me?” “I do, and you should know that the President of the United States agrees as well,” said Secretary Pompeo in the hearing.

 

BANKS INTRODUCES TELEHEALTH EXPANSION ACT: Reps. Jim Banks (R-IN) and Susie Lee (D-NV) introduced bipartisan legislation, the VA Telehealth Expansion Act, to improve and expand telehealth services for veterans at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (Howey Politics Indiana). This bill seeks to expand access to VA telehealth, by authorizing the VA to give grants to outside partners to create and improve telehealth access points for veterans. Quality telehealth services have been vital for veterans to access quality health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially for veterans in rural or medically underserved communities. "The past few months have shown how an unexpected crisis can complicate the VA's mission,” said Rep. Banks. “Our bill is common-sense, bipartisan, and improves the VA's ability to provide veterans with high-quality care no matter the circumstance."

 

WALORSKI ANNOUNCES APP CHALLENGE: U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) today announced the 2020 Congressional App Challenge and invited middle and high school students throughout Indiana’s 2nd District to submit their original app by Monday, October 19th. (Howey Politics Indiana). “Our nation’s future will be driven by a creative and innovative workforce, and I know the next generation of Hoosiers will be leading the way,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “The Congressional App Challenge is an incredible opportunity for local students to showcase the STEM skills and programming talent that will keep America at the forefront of technological development. I encourage 2nd District middle and high school students of all coding levels to participate, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with!”

 

General Assembly

 

LANANE ACCUSES HOLCOMB OF MASK 'FLIP-FLOP': This week, the country's top medical officials pointed to Indiana as one of four states primed to experience a large COVID-19 outbreak if better outbreak control measures are not implemented soon. Both Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx warned that these Midwest states are seeing increasing positivity rates which cannot be blamed on increased testing (Howey Politics Indiana). Governor Holcomb implemented a statewide mask mandate but stopped short of actually enforcing it due to resistance from members of his own party. Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) had the following concerns about the governor's flip-flopping on his mask order: "My observation in the past week has been that the public doesn't take this mask mandate seriously since the governor immediately did away with his own enforcement directive. Yet, in his Wednesday press conference, the governor is saying that he thinks we can slow the virus spread with 'good enforcement on the ground with the guidelines that are there right now.' "What in the world is 'good enforcement'? Who is doing the enforcement of this mask mandate? Since he has explicitly removed any criminal penalty from the mandate, enforcement is virtually non-existent.

 

PORTER CALLS FOR STUDENT COVID RELIEF: State Rep. Gregory W. Porter (D-Indianapolis) introduced a bold proposal to help relieve forgotten student loan borrowers using money from a dormant state program. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has provided a temporary moratorium on federally-issued student loans set to expire on Sept. 30 (Howey Politics Indiana). "As the effects of COVID-19 continue to impact our state's physical and economic health, no Hoosier should have to choose between timely student loan payments, putting a roof over their families' heads, or safeguarding their health from the virus," Porter said. "Our state has two months to decide how we will help student loan borrowers when payments resume or Hoosiers will be forced to make those difficult choices."

 

HATCHER SUPPORTS OVERTURNED CONVICTION: State Rep. Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary), Ranking Minority Member on the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, expressed her support regarding Cleveland "Chris" Bynum's request for overturning his wrongful conviction in the killing of five people in Gary 20 years ago (Howey Politics Indiana). Bynum was convicted in 2000 and was sentenced to 300 years in prison the following year with little hope of true justice. However, attention has been brought back to his case, thanks to the efforts of Markael Watkins, a local activist, and the Indiana University McKinney School of Law Wrongful Conviction Clinic. According to Bynum, he was forced into signing a confession after hours of interrogation involving threats to his family and denied requests for an attorney or phone call. Since his confession, a video recording of another Gary resident confessing to Bynum's alleged crimes has surfaced and the witness has recanted his testimony. "I wholeheartedly support Bynum's release and my only qualm is that it took so long to bring the truth to light," Hatcher said. "I would like to say that injustices like these rarely happen, but unfortunately Bynum is not the only Hoosier who has suffered from a wrongful conviction in Northwest Indiana.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB EXTENDS STAGE 4.5 - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb Thursday announced the state will remain in Stage 4.5 of the Back On Track Indiana plan until Aug. 27 (Howey Politics Indiana). Local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines. “This virus will take what we give it, so it is incumbent upon us to be on our best behavior, practicing physical distancing, good hygiene, and masking up,” Gov. Holcomb said. Gov. Holcomb has used data to drive decisions since the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus in early March and he continues to do so. The state will continue to monitor and respond to these four guiding principles: The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days; The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators; The state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees; Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing. The executive order also extends the moratorium on evictions from rental properties and the prohibition on filing foreclosures through Aug. 14.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ORDERS FLAGS LOWERED FOR KERNAN - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb directed flags statewide to be flown at half-staff to honor former Gov. Joe Kernan. Flags should be flown at half-staff from now until sunset on Wednesday, August 5. Gov. Holcomb also asks businesses and residents across the state to lower their flags to half-staff to honor former Gov. Kernan and his service.

 

ISDH: COVID CASES RISE 54% IN A DAY - Almost 1,000 new COVID cases were reported today by the Indiana State Department of Health.  That number, 970, is a 54% increase from Wednesday ­– and an additional 13 deaths. These numbers bring statewide totals to 65,253 cases and 2,746 deaths (Indiana Public Media). Data indicate 735,848 Hoosiers have been tested for COVID-19 with an 8.9% positivity rate. New data provided by ISDH show 6.9% of tests conducted in the past 7 days have returned positive.

 

REVENUE: BACK ON TRACK INITIATIVES RESTARTING - The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) is restarting several previously delayed programs and initiatives that were temporarily modified due to COVID-19 (Howey Politics Indiana). In late March 2020, DOR announced its “Helping Hoosiers” initiative which provided taxpayer relief during the COVID-19 pandemic by extending selected deadlines, adjusting payment plans and modifying due dates. The DOR team also continued to operate all systems and services, while providing excellent customer service via phone, email and online, all while processing a high volume of individual income tax returns and refunds during the 2020 tax season. “Our team took quick action to support Hoosiers when the COVID challenges began. We also worked tirelessly throughout the last few months to ensure that our customers received the support they needed,” commented DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “We are now beginning the process of slowly restarting certain billing, collections and protest processes. This will help Hoosiers stay or become compliant with their Indiana tax obligations while providing much-needed funding to support public services.”

 

CORRECTIONS: WOMEN'S PRISON LOCKDOWN EASES - Under COVID-19 restrictions, inmates at the Indiana Women’s Prison have spent many hours a day locked in their cells, which do not have toilets or running water and can get hotter than outside. The conditions have prompted health and fire safety concerns from advocates, politicians — even employees — especially in recent weeks as temperatures climbed (Indiana Public Media). But the prison recently took one step to help with those concerns, at least temporarily. In a July 23 e-mail, prison officials ordered cell doors to remain unlocked and open “until further notice due to the Extreme Heat we are experiencing. It is not optional.” Under the lockdown, prisoners may have been stuck in their cells much of the day, except for recreation and work activities. The prison’s policy stated that doors were to be opened when the outdoor heat index rose above 91 degrees. An employee at the Indianapolis prison says it’s unclear when or if the facility will revert to a lockdown.

 

CORRECTIONS: NEW WARDEN FOR PUTNAMVILLE - Dushan Zatecky has been appointed warden at Putnamville Correctional Facility following the retirement of former warden Brian Smith in May (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Indiana Department of Correction Commissioner Rob Carter recently announced the appointment, which became effective July 13. Zatecky began his correctional career at the Plainfield Correctional Facility in 1991 where he served as a correctional officer. He advanced through the ranks  before being promoted to major and transferring to Pendleton Correctional Facility.

 

EDUCATION: IU TO HAVE STAGGERED MOVE-IN - IU Bloomington officials have announced what move-in day will look like for students this fall (CBS4). The university plans multiple days for move-in. It is staggering groups of students so that number of students moving in stays below 1,500 at any given time. The first group can drop off their things on August 9, and it will continue until August 20th. Students get to pick which day and time they want to move in, but they have to wear a mask and only two people can help them.

 

EDUCATION: VALPARAISO U NAMES INTERIM PRESIDENT - Valparaiso University's Board of Directors has named an interim President-elect. Valparaiso alum Colette Irwin-Knott, who has been a board member since 2009, will take over the role after Mark Heckler recommended last year that a search for a new president begin (Inside Indiana Business). Irwin-Knott will take over effective September 1, with Heckler working with her during the transition.  Heckler became the university's 18th president in 2008 and will become President Emeritus once Irwin-Knott assumes responsibilities. Irwin-Knott spent her career in public finance with HJ Umbaugh & Associates in Indianapolis, where she retired from as a partner in 2014.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SCHEDULE -  The president will meet with the National Association of Police Organizations leadership in the Cabinet Room at 11:30 a.m. He will leave the White House at 1 p.m. en route to Tampa, Fla. He’s due to participate in a campaign coalitions event with Florida sheriffs at 3:30 p.m. He then leaves for Belleair, Fla., at 3:50 p.m. and travels to the Pelican Golf Club. He will participate in a Covid-19 response and storm preparedness roundtable at 4:30 p.m. Afterward, he will participate in a roundtable with supporters at 5 p.m., followed by a fundraising committee dinner. Trump will depart at 7:05 p.m., arriving back at the White House at 10:05 p.m.

 

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - “Fox News Sunday”: Jason Miller, Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.). Panel: Ben Domenech, Donna Brazile and Lanhee Chen. ABC “This Week”: Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Panel: Mary Bruce, Rachel Scott, Perry Bacon and Jonathan Swan. CBS “Face the Nation”: Scott Gottlieb, Neel Kashkari, Anthony Salvanto. NBC “Meet the Press”: Panel: Robert Draper, Heather McGhee and Andrea Mitchell.

 

Local

 

MICHIGAN CITY: COUNCIL WANTS MORE BEACH CLOSURES — Mayor Duane Parry’s latest executive order closing Washington Park didn’t go far enough, City Council members said Thursday. Several council members said the rest of the city’s beachfront should have been closed as well (NWI Times). Without the council’s action, Parry’s emergency closure of the park would have expired at midnight Thursday night. State law requires the council’s consent for an executive order to remain in effect more than seven days. After a unanimous council vote, it now is extended through Aug. 13. But the mayor can rescind it sooner if he determines the spread of COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to residents. Councilman Don Przybylinski, D-At-Large, said Sheridan Beach, bus stops 2 through 13, should have been included. There are beach entrances at those stops. Thursday afternoon, he walked to the beach at stop 7 and saw lots of people. Then he drove through the Beachwalk resort there and counted close to 190 out-of-state license plates. On Tuesday, Park Superintendent Ed Shinn estimated that each car visiting the park has an average of 3.5 people. If you figure four per car, that’s 700-800 Beachwalk people on the beach if they all go at the same time, Przybylinski said Thursday.

 

MISHAWAKA: MORE SCHOOL DISTRICTS OPT FOR ON-LINE CLASSES - Career Academy joined a growing list of schools this week that have announced that students will not return to classrooms in the fall, after the local health department issued new reopening guidance based on COVID-19 case data (South Bend Tribune). School City of Mishawaka made the announcement Wednesday. And late Thursday afternoon, Penn-Harris-Madison announced its administration is recommending online-only instruction for the first two months of school. P-H-M’s board is set to vote on the change at a Monday meeting.

 

SOUTH BEND: GOP COUNCILMAN OPPOSES FACE MASK FINES — A proposed ordinance to allow fines for violations of the county’s face mask order hit a speed bump this week after a St. Joseph County Council member voiced objections (Spalding, South Bend Tribune). Republican council member Mark Root, District I, said Tuesday he had several concerns about the ordinance, including no provision for when it might expire and putting “too much power in the hands of one individual, the county health officer.” His concerns mean a vote on the ordinance won’t happen in August, but probably instead in September.

 

PERU: 2 SCHOOL STAFFERS TEST POSITIVE – Peru Community Schools officials say two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19 a week before students are set to return to school (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). Superintendent Sam Watkins said Thursday he requested that around 20 staff members get tested after a person, not employed by the school, reported being inside one of the district’s buildings and then later testing positive for COVID. Watkins said he requested all teachers and staff get tested who were in the same building as the person. Out of the around 20 staff who received the test, two came back positive.

 

CARMEL: NY SOFTWARE COMPANY TO MOVE HQ - A New York City-based medical-business software provider plans to move its headquarters to Carmel this October and build a local workforce of up to 75 highly-paid employees by the end of the year (IBJ). Simplifeye offers dentists, chiropractors, dermatologists and other medical offices software platforms for patient communications and scheduling, payments, telehealth conferencing and more. Dr. Ryan Hungate, a Kokomo native who founded the company in 2014, said Simplifeye has seen major recent growth and he wants it to continue in central Indiana. Hungate said he plans to spend up to $10 million to shift a majority of Simplifeye’s operations to Carmel. He said Simplifeye will retain its 5,000-square-foot office in New York even after it moves into the 9,600-square-foot space on the second floor of the 35,414-square-foot Monon & Main office building, which was built last year in the Carmel City Center neighborhood.

 

KOKOMO: AIRPORT GETS $2.8M - The Kokomo Municipal Airport this week was awarded nearly $2.8 million for a major runaway rehabilitation, marking the largest single grant the facility has received in at least 15 years (Kokomo Tribune). The funding comes from the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program, which awards money annually to airports around the country. Kokomo Municipal Airport Manager Shaun Baker said the funding will pay to completely repave the facility’s secondary runway, which measures 4,200 feet, and replace the airfield and runway lights.

 

GREENFIELD: STUDENT TESTS POSITIVE ON FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL — A Greenfield student has tested positive for COVID-19 on the day the district returned to class (WTHR-TV). Superintendent Dr. Harold Olin sent an email to parents of students at Greenfield-Central Junior High School Thursday, notifying them a student at the school had tested positive for the virus. Olin said the district was notified of the positive test by the Hancock County Health Department.

 

HAMILTON COUNTY: COVID CASES SPIKE - In a concerning sign for Hamilton County health leaders, more people are testing positive in Hamilton County for coronavirus on average than there were just after Gov. Eric Holcomb shut down the state in an effort to mitigate spread (IndyStar). By early April, Hamilton County had managed to seemingly flatten the coronavirus curve as cases started trending downward. But the trend has since reversed, as the state has reopened. On Friday of last week, Hamilton County announced 54 new coronavirus cases, surpassing the previous high of 51 daily cases. That's a trend seen in statewide numbers as well. And while nearby Marion County's numbers have remained higher than Hamilton County's, Marion County hasn't seen any record high daily numbers since early May.

 

MONROE COUNTY: PROSECUTOR OPTS FOR SPECIAL PROSECUTOR - Monroe County prosecutor Erika Oliphant announced she will appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case against two white men charged with assaulting a black man earlier this month. Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox are charged with criminal confinement, battery resulting in moderate bodily injury and intimidation (Indiana Public Media). Cox is also facing battery charges stemming from the July 4th incident, which was partially captured on cell phone video. Purdy and his girlfriend Caroline McCord both filed motions this week requesting a special prosecutor. Purdy’s request, much like McCord’s, says Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant is not fit to prosecute the case because she has a conflict of interest. They say she is more concerned with keeping her job as prosecutor than enforcing the laws of the state.

 

VIGO COUNTY: SCHOOL OPENING DELAYED A WEEK - The Vigo County School Corporation is announcing that the first day of school will now be Aug. 18, one week later than the original start date of Aug. 11 (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The delay is due to three factors: Chromebook delay. Last week, the district received word that its shipment of Chromebooks for high schoolers and grades 3-7, ordered in May, has been delayed. "We want to give our teachers more time to react to this delay," said Bill Riley, director of communications, in a news release. Response to alternative options. The district  has several alternative options to the traditional school model and the additional time will be used to react to each family’s choice, adjusting staffing to make sure every child has a quality education this year. Families who wanted an alternative selected their choice by Wednesday, and principals are contacting each child’s family to follow up. "We also continue to refine our secondary instructional model," Riley said. Building-level planning. The district has the safest possible in-school plan, and an extra week will allow the 27 schools time to define how each building will handle important parts of the plan like meals, passing periods, and recess, Riley said.