IU'S DR. CARROLL ON HOW WE BEAT CORONAVIRUS INCLUDES TESTING: Indiana University Dr. Aaron Carroll and Prf. Ashish Jha of Harvard University wrote this for The Atlantic: While many watched the coronavirus spread across the globe with disinterest for months, in the past week, most of us have finally realized it will disrupt our way of life. A recent analysis from Imperial College is now making some Americans, including many experts, panic. The report projects that 2.2 million people could die in the United States. But the analysis also provides reason for hope—suggesting a path forward to avoid the worst outcomes (Carroll & Jha, The Atlantic). We can make things better; it’s not too late. But we have to be willing to act. Asian countries have engaged in suppression; we are only engaging in mitigation. 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. We can build health-care facilities that do rapid screening and care for people who are infected, apart from those who are not. This will prevent transmission from one sick person to another in hospitals and other health-care facilities. We can even commit to housing infected people apart from their healthy family members, to prevent transmission in households. These steps alone still won’t be enough. We will need to massively strengthen our medical infrastructure. We will need to build ventilators and add hospital beds.

LOCKDOWNS WON'T BE ENOUGH TO DEFEAT COVID-19: Countries can’t simply lock down their societies to defeat coronavirus, the World Health Organization’s top emergency expert said on Sunday, adding that public health measures are needed to avoid a resurgence of the virus later on (Reuters). “What we really need to focus on is finding those who are sick, those who have the virus, and isolate them, find their contacts and isolate them,” Mike Ryan said in an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show. “The danger right now with the lockdowns ... if we don’t put in place the strong public health measures now, when those movement restrictions and lockdowns are lifted, the danger is the disease will jump back up.”

VIRUS COULD BE SEASONAL PROBLEM: As Covid-19 circles the globe, the most severe outbreaks so far clustered in areas of cool, dry seasonal weather, according to four independent research groups in the U.S., Australia and China that analyzed how temperature and humidity affect the coronavirus that causes the disease (Wall Street Journal). If their conclusions are borne out, sweltering summer months ahead might offer a lull in new cases across the heavily populated temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, they said. Even so, several of the scientists predicted that the disease would resurge in autumn, when cooler temperatures and low humidity again favor survival and transmission of the SARS-CoV2 coronavirus responsible for the illness.

LILLY TO OFFER DRIVE-THRU TESTING FOR MEDICAL PERSONNEL: Eli Lilly and Co. will begin offering drive-thru testing for COVID-19 on Monday at its Indianapolis headquarters, but the service will be limited for now to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals (IBJ). The drugmaker said Sunday afternoon that the general public will not be able to receive tests at this time, and it did not say whether it might broaden the drive-thru service in the future to include non-health care workers. The announcement came two days after Lilly said it was exploring setting up a drive-thru testing service for the public to take the crunch off hospitals, which are doing the bulk of the testing.

TRUMP, PENCE SIGNAL A SPLIT WITH DOCTORS: President Trump and some of his senior officials are losing patience with the doctors’ orders (Allen, Axios). The state of play: Amid dire predictions for jobs and the economy, the White House is beginning to send signals to business that there's light at the end of the tunnel — that the squeeze from nationwide social distancing won't be endless. Trump tweeted at 10 minutes to midnight: "WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF. AT THE END OF THE 15 DAY PERIOD [which began a week ago, March 16], WE WILL MAKE A DECISION AS TO WHICH WAY WE WANT TO GO!" Vice President Pence, who heads the White House's Coronavirus Task Force, had signaled the change in tone earlier when he said the CDC will issue guidance today allowing people exposed to the coronavirus to return to work sooner by wearing a mask for a certain length of time. Senior Trump officials, including the president himself, have only limited patience for keeping the economy shut down. They are watching stocks tumble and unemployment skyrocket. At the end of the 15-day period, there will likely be a serious clash between the public health experts — who will almost certainly favor a longer period of nationwide social distancing and quarantining — versus the president and his economic and political aides, who are anxious to restart the economy.

RESCUE FLOUNDERS IN CONGRESS; TRUMP SUGGESTS REMEDIES HARMFUL: Top-level negotiations between Congress and the White House churned late into the night over a now nearly $2 trillion economic rescue package, as the coronavirus crisis deepened, the nation shut down and the first U.S. senator tested positive for the disease (AP). As President Donald Trump took to the podium in the White House briefing room and promised to help Americans who feel afraid and isolated as the pandemic spreads, the Senate voted Sunday against advancing the rescue package. But talks continued on Capitol Hill. “I think you’ll get there. To me it’s not very complicated: We have to help the worker. We have to save the companies,” Trump said. Later, the Republican president suggested the remedies may be more harmful than the outbreak, vowing to reassess after the 15-day mark of the shutdown. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted. Inside the otherwise emptied out Capitol, the draft aid bill was declared insufficient by Democrats, who argued it was tilted toward corporations and did too little to help workers and health care providers. Republicans returned to the negotiating table.

FED'S BULLARD SAYS JOBLESS RATE BY SOAR TO 30%: Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis President James Bullard predicted the U.S. unemployment rate may hit 30% in the second quarter because of shutdowns to combat the coronavirus, with an unprecedented 50% drop in gross domestic product (Bloomberg News). Bullard called for a powerful fiscal response to replace the $2.5 trillion in lost income that quarter to ensure a strong eventual U.S. recovery, adding the Fed would be poised to do more to ensure markets function during a period of high volatility. “Everything is on the table” for the Fed as far as additional lending programs, Bullard said in a telephone interview Sunday from St. Louis. “There is more that we can do if necessary” with existing emergency authority. “There is probably much more in the months ahead depending on where Congress wants to go.”

TRUMP'S REFUSAL TO INVOKE MILITARY PRODUCTION ACT BASED ON A BET: President Trump’s refusal to invoke the Defense Production Act to commandeer resources for the federal government is based on a bet that he can cajole the nation’s biggest manufacturers and tech firms to come together in a market-driven, if chaotic, consortium that will deliver critical equipment — from masks to ventilators — in time to abate a national crisis (New York Times). Over the past five days, after weeks of minimizing the virus and dismissing calls to organize a national response, administration officials have been pulling executives into the White House Situation Room, and connecting them by phone, in a desperate effort to unlock existing supplies and ramp up new production. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk has been plucked from the staff of the Joint Chiefs, where he is a senior officer for military logistics, to run the effort to build a supply chain. And Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, is also playing a leading role. The government has essentially thrown out its existing playbook for dealing with pandemics, seizing the issue from the Department of Health and Human Services and moving it to the Federal Emergency Management Agency. But it is far from clear that the effort to enlist companies like General Motors, Apple and Hanes, just a few of the firms that have promised to free up existing supplies of masks or repurpose 3-D printers to produce ventilator parts, constitutes an effective strategy.

HUNT FOR MEDICAL SUPPLIES AS PANDEMIC BECOMES ALL-CONSUMING: The hunt for ventilators and other medical supplies consumed the U.S. and Europe on Monday, as new coronavirus infections soared and political paralysis stalled efforts for a quick aid package from Congress. Asian markets and U.S. futures sank as more governments tightened restrictions to fight the pandemic (AP). Fears grew that densely crowded New York could become one of the world’s biggest coronavirus hot spots, prompting cancelations of everything from play dates to picnics in the park to pickup basketball games. The city’s mayor said hospitals were 10 days away from shortages in “really basic supplies” that seriously endangered both health care workers and patients. “If we don’t get the equipment, we’re literally going to lose lives,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN. A surge in infections has caused a critical shortage of medical supplies in many places. Italy has already seen 18 doctors with coronavirus die and Spain says 12% of its nearly 29,000 cases are medical workers.

THE WEEK THAT CHANGED AMERICA: Change came to the United States of America during the third week of March in 2020. It did not come all at once, though it came quite rapidly. As had happened in other lands, there was no explosion, no invasion other than a microscopic one that nobody could see. There was no fire, no flood, no famine. There were no barbarians at the gates (Anthony, AP). Change came quietly in most towns and cities, because the change was one of withdrawal, a shutting of municipal and regional and national doors. The weather was the same weather. The streets were the same streets. The emptiness fell bit by bit, piece by piece, until the most crowded of places became some of the most ghostly. Some stopped going out in the evening. Then in the afternoon. Then all day. Some stopped getting haircuts, and some stopped cutting hair. Some stopped going out to eat, and some restaurants shut their doors except for takeout and delivery. Some, many, most stopped going to school. Home became the primary landscape. Those who worked outside the home became those who work in the home, or became those who did not work at all. Delivering a pizza became an act of bravery. Supermarket shopping became an activity of anxiety, both because of what people might not be able to get and because of what people might accidentally touch. Toilet paper became a source of stress and a recurring joke. Some people came to fear that anger was coming and others grew deeply angry that fear was coming.

STATE POLICE DENIES NATIONAL GUARD RUMORS: “We are trying to dispel rumors that are circulating. Our National Guard was activated on March 17 to assist with the Corona Virus outbreak. They are currently assisting with distribution of medical supplies to area hospitals. They are NOT shutting down highways or borders.” That was Indiana State Police Sgt. Todd Ringle, Evansville post, tweeting Sunday (Howey Politics Indiana). The Indiana National Guard is gathering at Stout Field on a logistics mission to deliver medical supplies from FEMA and the CDC to state hospitals. They will also be available if there would be the need to establish a field hospital. Gov. Eric Holcomb activated the guard on March 17. "The National Guard's mission is to aid our fellow Hoosiers and state agencies during this crisis," said Brig. Gen. R. Dale Lyles. "At Stout Field in Indianapolis, we are actively working with INDOT to assist with the distribution of critical medical equipment and supplies to those hospitals throughout the state with urgent needs. We are citizen soldiers and airmen and we are here to help during these trying times."

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: We are in for a tough, tough week. The coronavirus curve is now on a steep climb and we don't know how high it gets before it reaches an apex. Expect the number of cases to mushroom, and with Congress unable to get the emergency aid package resolved over the weekend, the wild Wall Street gyrations to continue. That only 1,494 Hoosiers have been tested means our policy leaders are still flying blind. Gov. Holcomb should convene a special General Assembly session to address this lack of testing, as IU's Dr. Aaron Caroll insists will be the key to ending lockdowns. If the federal government cannot provide the testing, it will be up to Hoosiers do make sure it happens. Whether our medical system becomes swamped is a frightening unknown President Trump and American governors only get one chance to get control of the situation by telling the people to stay home. That Trump hasn't invoked the National Defense Production Act to get masks and respirators up to speed is a huge mistake. Cracks are beginning to appear with a run on guns and ammo in South Bend and Terre Haute, the Evansville state police post denying rumors that the National Guard has been activated to secure borders and close down highways while people's retirement portfolios disappear.  - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

BIDEN'S LOW PROFILE CONCERNS SUPPORTERS: Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the likely Democratic nominee against President Trump in this year’s general election, was asked a question during a virtual fund-raiser on Sunday that reflected a challenge looming over his campaign as the coronavirus outbreak intensifies (New York Times). “What I’m concerned about is that we see Donald Trump every day with this crisis giving his press report,” said one donor, according to a pool report from the fund-raiser, which was conducted by telephone. “And I would just love to see you more. Like, how do we get more of you and less of him on our airwaves?” At Sunday’s fund-raiser, Mr. Biden said that a recreation room in his home in Delaware had been turned into a television studio, and that he planned to give remarks on Monday. On a conference call with reporters on Friday, Mr. Biden said his campaign was working to increase his ability to speak to the public. “I want to be in daily or at least, you know, significant contact with the American people and communicate what I would be doing, what I think we should be doing and how we should be doing it,” Mr. Biden said.



Sunday Talk

GOTTLIEB SAYS LIFE WON'T RETURN TO NORMAL UNTIL VACCINE: Former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said a return to the status quo amid the coronavirus pandemic would likely be “a slow transition,” only returning to full normality once a vaccine was approved. “I think it’s going to be a slow transition,” Gottlieb said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” saying “the epidemic is probably going to peak sometime in late April” and taper off by June but that it could possibly recur in the fall. “Life’s never going to be perfectly normal until we get to a vaccine,” Gottlieb added.

GOV. HOGAN CALLS CHERRY BLOSSOM CROWDS 'CRAZY': Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R-Md.) said Sunday people have to heed warnings and recommendations of social distancing to protect themselves and others from the coronavirus pandemic. "It's a little crazy to see the crowds at the Cherry Blossoms," Hogan said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "People have to listen, you are endangering not only yourselves but fellow citizens by not listening to these warnings," he added. Hogan said he's been in contact with the D.C. mayor and Virginia governor about taking action and trying to work together.

SEN. TOOMEY SAYS TRUMP MESSAGE IMPROVES: Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) said Sunday President Trump's message on the coronavirus pandemic has recently been better. NBC's "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd asked Toomey if he thinks Trump has "gotten in the way" of the administration's response at times. "I mean his message has changed as our understanding of this has changed and sometimes it's been better than other times," Toomey responded. "I think more recently, it's generally been better."

Congress

HOUSE PREVIEW: The House will remain on recess until a vote on the Phase 3 deal is announced. They will be notified 24 hours ahead so they can arrange travel back to Washington (Axios).

SENATE PREVIEW: The Senate will resume negotiations on their stimulus bill. Several Senate aides tell Axios they expect senators will fly back to their home states for an extended recess after a final vote on the measure is completed, but that has not yet been decided. Meanwhile, calls to implement a remote voting system increased with urgency today after Sen. Rand Paul became the first senator to test positive for the virus. Several other senators — including Mike Lee, Mitt Romney, Rick Scott and Cory Gardner — are under self-quarantines after being exposed to the disease.

SEN. PAUL TESTS POSITIVE: Officials with Senator Rand Paul’s Office say he has tested postitive for COVID-19 (WFIE-TV). Here is the statement: "Senator Rand Paul has tested positive for COVID-19. He is feeling fine and is in quarantine. He is asymptomatic and was tested out of an abundance of caution due to his extensive travel and events. He was not aware of any direct contact with any infected person. He expects to be back in the Senate after his quarantine period ends and will continue to work for the people of Kentucky at this difficult time. Ten days ago, our D.C. office began operating remotely, hence virtually no staff has had contact with Senator Paul."

General Assembly

VETERANS GROUP UPSET BY COUNTY VA OFFICER BILL: Indiana veterans are upset with a bill with state lawmakers for passing a bill that could impact who will be leading veterans’ affairs in Indiana (Darling, WIBC). Lisa Wilken, a veterans’ advocate with AMVET, told Indy Politics veterans are outraged that House Ball 1173 passed the State Senate with an amendment essentially loosening residency requirements for whoever occupies the position the VA Director in Indiana as well as county veteran service officers. Wilken said veterans organizations are staunchly opposed to this and that they were not allowed to have any input on the amendment. “We were supposed to come to a compromise for the amendment that was going to be added on second reading on the floor,” Wilken said. “But instead the veterans’ organizations were presented with the amendment instead of us working together for a compromise.

State

EDUCATION: DANIELS SENDS VIDEO TO STUDENTS -  Purdue President Mitch Daniels is reaching out to students through the computer. A video message posted online is sending good wishes to Purdue Students (WLFI-TV). Sunday was supposed to be the last day of spring break before classes resumed. However, Purdue has made the decision to cancel in-person classes for the rest of the semester. As well as event such as the Purdue Center of Cancer Research 5K, the Purdue Grand Prix Race, and graduation. President Daniels is asking students to be patient as problems are worked through with remote learning. "We know that no amount of thought and preparation from this week will suffice, there will be problems next week and there will be difficulties, new questions that you bring to our attention," he said in the message. President Daniels is encouraging students to give constructive feedback about the new course structure, and to check the Purdue University website for frequently asked questions about the coronavirus situation.

Nation

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS GOVERNORS SHOULD LEAD THE WAY - President Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic sparked uproar and alarm among governors and mayors on Sunday as Trump and his administration’s top advisers continued to make confusing statements about the federal government’s scramble to confront the crisis, including whether he will force private industry to mass produce needed medical items (Washington Post). As deaths climbed and ahead of a potentially dire week, Trump — who has sought to cast himself as a wartime leader — reacted to criticism that his administration has blundered with a torrent of soaring boasts and searing grievances. He tweeted that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and others “shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!” Trump changed his tone at an evening news conference, however, touting an “amazing” relationship with New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) and saying governors he spoke with on Sunday will be “very happy” with the upcoming federal response. “The governors, locally, are going to be in command,” Trump said, as he pledged support from the National Guard and federal agencies. “We will be following them, and we hope they can do the job. And I think they will.”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP WILL SPEND WHATEVER IT TAKES - After the press hammered President Trump for a dismissive and dysfunctional response that wasted precious time and let the coronavirus spread undetected through the U.S., he is now eager to spend whatever it takes to bail out the economy, according to White House officials (Axios). "He feels he won't get punished for overreacting," said a senior administration official. "The bigger the better." The official said that ballooning the $23 trillion national debt has never been much of a concern to Trump and certainly isn't now. Aides say Trump's instinctive view is that no coronavirus check is too big. He's searching for dramatic, quick-fix interventions. We'll start to see the policy effects of that mindset this week.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP ORDERS GUARD IN 3 STATES TO BUILD HOSPITALS - President Trump on Sunday said the National Guard had been activated in New York, California and Washington and that the federal government would provide additional resources to help those states combat the coronavirus (The Hill). “We’re dealing also with other states. These states have been hit the hardest,” Trump said at a news briefing at the White House. Trump said the federal government would fund “100 percent” of the National Guard units carrying out approved missions in those states. The order will provide additional manpower and resources to the three states grappling with some of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the U.S.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE - The president will have lunch with VP Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m. in the private dining room. The corona virus task force will hold a briefing at 5:30 p.m. today -- after the U.S. markets close.

VIRUS: 3M TO SEND 500K RESPIRATORS TO NY, SEATTLE - The 3M Company will send 500,000 respirators to New York and Seattle as the cities combat the COVID-19 outbreak, its CEO announced in a statement Sunday (The Hill). 3M CEO and Chairman Mike Roman said in a statement that the American company has doubled its global output to 1.1 billion N95 respirators per year, amounting to 100 million per month. Factories in the U.S. alone are developing 35 million respirators per month. Roman said that more than 90 percent of those respirators are going to health care workers, with the other portion going to other industries “critical in this pandemic,” like energy, food and pharmaceutical companies.

ILLINOIS: 293 NEW VIRUS CASES - Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, reported 296 new cases of coronavirus in Illinois on Sunday, including one infant (Chicago Sun-Times). That brings the statewide tally to 1,049 cases and nine deaths.

OHIO: DeWINE INVOKES STAY AT HOME ORDER - Gov. Mike DeWine’s administration is enacting a stay-at-home order as cases spiked to a total of more than 350 in the state (WANE-TV). DeWine said the stay-at-home order will start to be enforced Tuesday by local health departments and local law enforcement, although he said the order includes things he’s already been asking residents to do, such as stay at home except for essential needs. The order will go into effect beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. and will remain in effect until 11:59 p.m. on April 6, 2020, unless the order is rescinded or modified.

World

CHINESE ENVOY CALLS U.S. VIRUS RUMOR 'CRAZY': In a rare interview, China's ambassador to the United States, Cui Tiankai, told "Axios on HBO" that he stands by his belief that it's "crazy" to spread rumors about the coronavirus originating from a military laboratory the United States. Cui called this exact conspiracy theory "crazy" more than a month ago on CBS' "Face the Nation." But that was before the spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhao Lijian, began publicly promoting the conspiracy. The fact that Cui distanced himself from his colleague's statements sends an important signal from the top Chinese government official in the U.S. Top Trump officials, including the president, have expressed their outrage at Chinese officials for trying to spread the theory that the U.S. military brought the coronavirus to China. The State Department even called in Cui to take him to task. There's not a credible epidemiologist in the world who has shown evidence that the virus originated anywhere but China. Scientists believe the virus emerged from animals sold in a market in Wuhan, where the first cases of the disease were discovered.

Local

TERRE HAUTE: 'INSANE' LEVEL OF GUN SALES - Firearms owners looking to stock up on ammunition might be waiting a while, or they may need to check frequently with their favorite suppliers (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). In the Wabash Valley, the Hoosier state and across the country, merchants are reporting a run on popular calibers. And firearm sales are up, too, dealers say. Clerks at both Academy Sports and Outdoors and at Rural King this week reported no inventory of 9 millimeter, .40-caliber or .45-caliber ammunition in stock. “We’ve been insane all week,” a clerk said of sales at Carson Firearms and Archery on Springhill Drive in Terre Haute. Both ammunition and gun sales have been busier than usual at the store. “The problem is, we can’t get anything else to replace it,” said the clerk, who asked his name not be used.

EVANVILLE: HOSPITALS POISED TO BE 'OVERWHELMED' -  A psychological threshold was crossed with Vanderburgh County's first confirmed coronavirus case Thursday, leaving health professionals to take a hard look at their readiness for an outbreak — just in case (Evansville Courier & Press). For weeks, rumors bordering on hysteria — rumors of secret cases in hospitals, doctor's offices, even the county jail — sprouted like weeds in an untended garden. But this is real. Coronavirus really can touch Vanderburgh County. And now local hospitals and the Vanderburgh County Health Department are doubling down on the social distancing and hand hygiene mantra that they call the best hope to quell an outbreak. Because, some of them admit, they couldn't keep up if that happened. "We would be overwhelmed rapidly," Health Officer Dr. Kenneth Spear said Friday. The Health Department doesn't provide primary care, but it does do investigations. Spear and Administrator Joe Gries said they would turn to local health departments where fewer cases exist and to the Indiana State Department of Health for help. Dr. James Porter, president of Deaconess Health System, pointed to a worrisome sign. "We’ve had a number of patients now present for care that we have a pretty high degree of clinical suspicion that they are presenting with signs and symptoms of coronavirus," Porter said on Facebook Live Thursday night.

WEST LAFAYETTE: MAYOR DENNIS URGES SMALL BIZ SUPPORT - Mayor John Dennis said while people are encouraged to stay home during the Coronavirus pandemic they should remember small businesses. Several restaurants have moved to carry out only options (WLFI-TV). Dennis said people should continue supporting small businesses especially during this time because for them this will have a financial impact. If you or your family are wanting to eat out, he encourages people to order out from local businesses. He said this is one way we can help each other get through this together. "If you want an excuse to hop in the car and get out of the house pre order a meal from one of our local restaurants or even some case our local taverns," said Dennis. "They'll walk out and safely hand it to you so that there's no potential of contamination and that'll help keep our businesses growing."

MONTICELLO: EMERGENCY DECLARED - The City of Monticello is also declaring a public health/local disaster emergency. This is going into effect Sunday March 22nd (WLFI-TV). Mayor Cathy Gross said the city is following the lead of the White County Board of Commissioners. This decision is linked to the spread of COVID-19. There are currently no cases of the virus in White County.

KOKOMO: 3 FIREFIGHTERS SUE CITY OVER REASSIGNMENTS - Three Kokomo firefighters, including the former fire chief, are suing the city, the Board of Works and the current fire chief over reassignments they say were not legal (Kokomo Tribune). Nick Glover, Steve Stackhouse and Chris Hall believe they were wrongly reassigned in January by Chris Frazier, Kokomo’s new fire chief as of this year, according to a complaint filed March 5 in Howard County Superior Court IV. In the complaint, the three firefighters argue they should be assigned to the rank of battalion chief since that is the rank they held before they were promoted to an upper level policy-making position. Under Indiana law, for a fire department the size of Kokomo’s, an upper level policy-making position is the position of fire chief and the position immediately below it; in the case for the city of Kokomo that’s deputy chief.

ALLEN COUNTY: 1ST VIRUS DEATH - The Department of Health has confirmed the first Allen County death from COVID-19 (WPTA-TV). The resident was an older adult who had been hospitalized for COVID-19 and also had a history of chronic health issues. “Our hearts go out to the family who lost their loved one today as a result of COVID-19,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan. “We continue to ask for the community’s help in adhering to guidance that will slow the spread of this virus so our hospitals can continue to provide their best care to patients suffering from COVID-19 as well as other serious conditions," McMahan said.

ALLEN COUNTY: CHURCHES ORDERED CLOSED - Church activity in Allen County is to be suspended at midnight by order of the health department (WPTA-TV). Details from health officials are as follows: In order to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus COVID-19 in the community, the Health Commissioner is prohibiting church gatherings in Allen County, including those held in non-church venues. The order was issued Saturday in response to health officials learning some local congregations were still hoping to gather in small, separated groups of 10 for bible study or modified services. The order, effective Sunday, March 22 at 12:01 a.m., states no gatherings with an aggregate total of more than 10 individuals in a church building is permitted. “While we understand people are still in need of spiritual guidance during these difficult times, we need to be sure everyone grasps the importance of social distancing and avoiding any non-essential gatherings,” said health commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan.

POSEY COUNTY: EMERGENCY DECLARED - Local governments are continuing to take precautionary measures against the virus (WFIE-TV). Posey County officials have issued an emergency order that would temporarily close some businesses in the county. They are urging people to stay home and do as much social distancing as they can. Posey County leaders issued an order Friday that recommends all barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons, tanning facilities, tattoo parlors, gyms or fitness facilities, and bowling alleys be closed for seven days in order to limit the spread of COVID-19. “I do think the people of Posey County have started to understand more, the importance of social distancing,” said Dr. Kyle Rapp, Posey Co. Health Officer. “I think as more information as to why that’s important is getting out, but definitely I feel that the county is doing what they can to this point. There have been definitely a noticeable decrease in social activities.”