INDY 500 POSTPONED UNTIL AUG. 23: The Indianapolis 500 will move to Aug. 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar announced Thursday, marking the first time the historic race has ever run in a month other than May (IBJ). The 104th running of the race will still air live on NBC, with a time for the race announced letter. The GMR Grand Prix—typically run as part of May’s Indy 500 festivities—will move to July 4 on the IMS road course. It will run the day before the Brickyard 400, a NASCAR race that is running on the weekend of Independence Day for the first time this year. “The month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is my favorite time of year, and like our fans, I am disappointed that we have had to reschedule the Indianapolis 500,” IMS owner Roger Penske said in a statement. “However, the health and safety of our event participants and spectators is our top priority, and we believe that postponing the event is the responsible decision with the conditions and restrictions we are facing.” Gov. Eric Holcomb said he’s pleased IMS and IndyCar have found a new date for the race. “I 110% support the decision to postpone it,” the governor said. “I’m just tickled we’re still going to have it—and we will have it. We’ll welcome the world back to the state of Indiana at that time.”

170 NEW VIRUS DEATHS; U.S. TOPS WORLD IN CASES: Three more deaths from illness related to the coronavirus were reported Thursday in Indiana, boosting the state’s total to 17 deaths as coronavirus cases rose to nearly 650 statewide amid the pandemic (Indiana Public Media). Indiana’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases grew by 170 to 645 across the state late Wednesday, following corrections to the state’s previously reported total cases, the Indiana State Department of Health said. There are currently six state-confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County. The United States’ caseload of coronavirus infections surged to the most in the world and its capital reported more infections, as Italy shut most of its industry and masses of Indian day laborers received food rations after a lockdown put them out of work. Increases in the number of cases have been expected as testing becomes more available. The U.S. passed China with more than 85,000 cases, and Italy also exceeded 80,000, the three countries together accounting for almost half of the world’s infections from the new virus (AP). Deaths from COVID-19 have surpassed 24,000, more than a third of them in Italy, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. The U.S. had about 1,300 deaths, almost a quarter of them in New York City, where hospitals are overwhelmed.

COVID-19 HITS JOHNSON COUNTY NURSING HOME: Eight residents of a senior community in Franklin have tested positive for COVID-19, along with a nurse and a therapist. All of the residents have been hospitalized (IBJ). The outbreak at Otterbein Franklin SeniorLife Community was initially discovered last week, when a resident and a contracted therapist showed symptoms and tested positive, said Gary Horning, a spokesman for the parent company, Otterbein SeniorLife, based in Lebanon, Ohio. Both were hospitalized, but the therapist has since been discharged and is recovering at home. On Monday, a nurse tested positive, and is recovering at home. A second contracted therapist tested negative. The cases are among 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Johnson County, according to the county health department. Three Johnson County residents have died.

63 SEYMOUR HOSPITAL WORKERS QUARANTINED: A southern Indiana hospital has placed 63 employees on a 14-day quarantine after they came in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 (AP). The workers at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour interacted with a patient who came in for treatment but did not initially show any symptoms of the disease caused by the coronavirus, The Indianapolis Star reported. The patient came to Schenk during the early stages of the national outbreak and began to develop symptoms over time, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Furlow said. The affected Schneck workers initially did not wear proper protective equipment when in contact with the patient, she said. While all of the employees have been placed on a standard 14-day quarantine, Furlow said employees who show no symptoms may be allowed to return to work sooner. Those employees will be required to wear personal protective equipment at all times.

3.3M AMERICANS, 61K HOOSIER FILE JOB CLAIMS: Nearly 3.3 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week—more than quadruple the previous record set in 1982—amid a widespread economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus (IBJ). In Indiana, initial claims filed for the week ended March 21 rose to a whopping 61,635, up from 2,596 claims the previous week, according to the U.S. Labor Department. The surge in weekly applications was a stunning reflection of the damage the viral outbreak is doing to the economy. Filings for unemployment aid generally reflect the pace of layoffs. The pace of layoffs is sure to accelerate as the U.S. economy sinks into a recession. Revenue has collapsed at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, gyms, and airlines. Auto sales are plummeting, and car makers have close factories. Most such employers face loan payments and other fixed costs, so they’re cutting jobs to save money. As job losses mount, some economists say the nation’s unemployment rate could approach 13% by May. By comparison, the highest jobless rate during the Great Recession, which ended in 2009, was 10%.

PURDUE TO CONDUCT VIRTUAL COMMENCEMENT: Purdue University spring graduate candidates will have the opportunity to hear their name called, receive their diploma and even rent a cap and gown this spring despite nationwide cancellations amid the global coronavirus pandemic (Lanich, NWI Times). Purdue officials announced plans Thursday to pioneer an "on-demand" commencement ceremony this spring after calling off all in-person activities earlier this month. Through a digital ceremony, members of the spring class of 2020 will be able to download their own ceremony and watch an invocation, presidential address and conferral of degrees with family at a time of their choosing, according to a Purdue University news release. "If we can't put on the nation's best traditional ceremony, then we'll produce the best remote one," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in the news release. "It's a huge disappointment to us all that we can't do this in person, but with input from a creative group of graduating seniors, we will do the best we can to preserve the essence of this special occasion."

HOW MUCH WILL YOU GET FROM FEDERAL RESCUE? The $2 trillion stimulus bill passed in the Senate includes help for American families who are hurting financially due to the economic impact of the coronavirus. Most adults will receive $1,200 checks, plus $500 for each of their children (CBS News). The key factor is your household's annual income, because the package is aimed at helping low- and moderate-income families. Some wealthier families might not receive a stimulus check. Individual taxpayers will get $1,200 each if their adjusted gross income (AGI) is less than $75,000. Individual taxpayers with AGIs above $75,000 will receive smaller checks, with a $5 reduction for every $100 in income above $75,000. In other words, if your AGI is $80,000, your check would be reduced by $250 — the total payout would be about $950. To determine how much you'll get, you can use this stimulus check calculator by OmniCalculator. Middle-income households that earn between $51,000 to $91,000 would receive an average payment of about $1,810, or about 3% of their after-tax income, according to Gleckman. Married couples will receive $2,400 if they earn less than $150,000 in adjusted gross income. Head of households will receive $1,200 if they earn less than $112,500 in AGI. Payments will be reduced by $5 for every $100 in income above those AGI limits.

FEMA PULLS BACK FROM GM VENTILATOR DEAL:  The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off (New York Times). The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology. Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals. And they contend that an initial promise that the joint venture could turn out 20,000 ventilators in short order had shrunk to 7,500, with even that number in doubt.

STATE IS COY ABOUT VIRUS EQUIPMENT:  As coronavirus cases rise, Indiana's health commissioner won't say how many intensive care beds and ventilators hospitals have in the state. “I'm really not going to be a numbers person about this because it changes every single day,” Dr. Kristina Box said Thursday (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). “I will never share hard numbers with you because this is information that the hospital systems have put into this and I am going to respect their privacy with regards to this,” Box said. National data put out by Kaiser Health News shows ICU beds down to each county. For instance, it said Allen County has 170 and DeKalb has eight. A number of area counties have no ICU beds, such as Huntington and Whitley counties. Kaiser didn't have ventilator data, nor would the Indiana Hospital Association provide it. Attempts to get numbers from local health systems have been unsuccessful.

HOW WILL PANDEMIC END? Three months ago, no one knew that SARS-CoV-2 existed. Now the virus has spread to almost every country, infecting at least 446,000 people whom we know about, and many more whom we do not. It has crashed economies and broken health-care systems, filled hospitals and emptied public spaces. It has separated people from their workplaces and their friends (Yong, The Atlantic). It has disrupted modern society on a scale that most living people have never witnessed. Soon, most everyone in the United States will know someone who has been infected. Like World War II or the 9/11 attacks, this pandemic has already imprinted itself upon the nation’s psyche. A global pandemic of this scale was inevitable. In recent years, hundreds of health experts have written books, white papers, and op-eds warning of the possibility. Bill Gates has been telling anyone who would listen, including the 18 million viewers of his TED Talk. In October, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security war-gamed what might happen if a new coronavirus swept the globe. And then one did. Hypotheticals became reality. “What if?” became “Now what?” On the Global Health Security Index, a report card that grades every country on its pandemic preparedness, the United States has a score of 83.5—the world’s highest. Rich, strong, developed, America is supposed to be the readiest of nations. That illusion has been shattered. Despite months of advance warning as the virus spread in other countries, when America was finally tested by COVID-19, it failed.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: A nursing home executive told me he had an employee test positive for the coronavirus. That person came in contact with another staffer, so this executive has spent the past couple days trying to get the second employee tested. With no luck. This state still has a huge testing problem, and testing in the linchpin of getting a handle on this pandemic and, ultimately, reopening society for business. - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

SANDERS STAYING IN RACE: Since his staff announced last week that he is reassessing his campaign, Bernie Sanders has not yet definitively said whether he is still running (Politico). But he’s given every indication he’s pressing forward — and perhaps remaining in the presidential race for months to come. Despite Joe Biden’s nearly insurmountable delegate lead, the Sanders campaign said he plans to participate in an April debate, if one happens. His team has held volunteer organizing calls in the past week in New York and Pennsylvania, which are planning to hold their primaries perhaps as late as June. And his campaign is also touting that it is ramping up staff in New York, which a senior aide said is “a sign that he is still in.” Sanders, who hasn’t aired ads or fundraised since losing badly in the March 17 primaries, could still very well call things off. But one thing is certain: He’s not acting like a candidate who’s finished with the primary. “Bernie has every reason to stay in,” said James Zogby, a Democratic National Committee member who has spoken with Sanders in recent weeks and urged him to continue running. “He has a role to play in policies of course, but also continuing to be the glue that holds the progressive movement together.”


REP. MASSIE MAY HOLD UP HOUSE RESCUE BILL VOTE: Facing one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history, House leaders expressed optimism Thursday about swift passage of the emergency $2.2 trillion relief bill aimed at mitigating the financial havoc caused by the coronavirus pandemic but faced a possible procedural hurdle that could delay sending the measure to President Trump (Washington Post). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) vowed to bring the massive legislation to the House floor on Friday and said she felt certain “we will have a strong bipartisan vote.” To hasten passage, Pelosi is seeking to hold a voice vote, which would not require the House’s 429 sitting members to reconvene in Washington — a move House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said he endorsed, given that multiple lawmakers have contracted or been exposed to the coronavirus. But at least one lawmaker is considering upending those plans. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said Thursday that he opposed the bill, approved Wednesday by the Senate, and is concerned that voting without a quorum present — the majority of the House chamber — would violate the Constitution. Massie said he has yet to decide whether to press the issue, which could delay a House vote until late Saturday or Sunday.

WALORSKI EXPECTS RESCUE BILL TO PASS: Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) will be one of several members of the House who will take part in a voice vote on the coronavirus relief bill passed by the Senate this week (Darling, WIBC). House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) said Thursday she expects it to pass. Walorski agrees and she also expects the president to immediately sign the bill so Americans can start seeing money in their bank accounts as soon as possible. “So they can buy food, they can pay their bills, they can do whatever they need to do that is urgent for them,” Walorski said. “More than anything else I think what this will do is quell the fear.”

SEN. YOUNG SAYS HELP FOR SMALL BUSINESS ON THE WAY: Relief for small businesses and families affected by the coronavirus is on the way. Indiana restaurants and most businesses have been shuttered after dozens of people in the state became sick and died from the virus (Pinsker, Indiana Public Media). The U.S. Senate approved the $2 trillion relief package early Thursday morning. The legislation must be approved by the House of Representatives and then signed into law by President Trump. The bill allows small businesses with less than 500 employees to take out a loan of up to $10 million. “It’s the belief of the Secretary of the Treasury that by the end of next week, we could see the small businesses be able to receive those loans from banks or credit unions,” Young says. Young’s office says the loans may be used for employee health benefits, payroll, utilities, rent and mortgage interest. It cannot be used to make mortgage payments.

General Assembly

SPEAKER HUSTON 'ENCOURAGED BY FED GOVERNMENT'S AGGRESSIVE, SWIFT' RESPONSE: House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) lauded what he called the federal government's "aggressive, swift reponse" to the pandemic (Howey Politics Indiana). “The federal emergency relief package will help so many Americans and job creators weather this unprecedented storm. Expanding and increasing jobless benefits will have an immediate impact on those who have suddenly found themselves, perhaps for the first time, out of work and anxious about their future. I'm encouraged by the federal government's aggressive and swift response, and I hope this relief is expedited directly to those who need it most. The federal legislation also provides direct financial assistance to the state and local governments to assist with the COVID-19 response, but this funding may not fill all of the gaps created by a dramatic decline in state and local tax revenues. Our fiscal prudence and strong reserves serve as a critical buffer to ensure the continuation of essential state government services, but it's also clear that all levels of government must prepare now to tighten their belts."

SENS. TAYLOR LAUDS HOLCOMB VETO:  Gov. Holcomb vetoed Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 148, a contentious proposal that would have prohibited local government from passing legislation regulating landlord and tenant relationships. If signed, SEA 148 would have immediately invalidated a recently approved Indianapolis ordinance to provide more protections to tenants.  Indianapolis Democratic State Senators Greg Taylor, Jean Breaux and J.D. Ford collectively thanked the governor for vetoing the legislation (Howey Politics Indiana). “It’s a huge relief to me and residents of Indianapolis that this legislation will not become law,” Senator Taylor said. “Hoosiers in my community, and in communities across the state, would have had city ordinances protecting tenants from bad-acting landlords invalidated if SEA 148 had been approved. It’s even more imperative now that we are protecting Hoosiers from wrongful treatment and evictions as we work to combat the Corona virus pandemic. Vetoing this bill was the right decision, and I’m grateful to the governor for making the right choice.”

SEN. BREAUX REACTS: “I’m glad that Governor Holcomb did the right thing and vetoed SEA 148,” Sen. Breaux said. “His decision shows empathy and understanding at a time when both are needed from leadership and government. Indiana cities should have the freedom to pass local ordinances to deal with issues in their community without interference from the state. Indianapolis has one of the highest eviction rates in the country, and I’m grateful that the proposal approved by our City-County Council to address that problem will not be overturned. It’s a relief that Indianapolis Hoosiers don't have to worry about being wrongfully evicted, especially now as we continue urging people to remain in their homes to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

SEN. FORD REACTS: “I want to sincerely thank Governor Holcomb for vetoing SEA 148 yesterday," Sen. Ford said. "During this public health crisis we need to prevent folks from losing their homes and being forced out on the streets. We should never be bending over backwards for unscrupulous landlords, especially during a pandemic. Hoosiers need to feel safe that they can stay at home and wait out this storm."

REP. REARDON URGES GOVERNOR TO RELEASE SUPPLY TOTALS: State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Munster) today sent a letter to Governor Holcomb urging him to make the number of various medical supplies, such as hospital beds and ventilators, available to state legislators and the public (Howey Politics Indiana). She also called on Holcomb to come up with a comprehensive plan to meet the needs of care for Hoosiers being treated for COVID-19. 

REP. JACKSON'S LEAD TESTING BILL SIGNED BY GOVERNOR: This week, a bill written by State Rep. Carolyn B. Jackson (D-Hammond) which mandates schools statewide to test their water for lead contamination was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb (Howey Politics Indiana). House Enrolled Act 1265 requires testing for lead in the drinking water of every school in the state before January 2023. According to the bill, school administrators will be responsible for seeking available state and federal grant money to cover these costs. This testing requirement would be satisfied, however, if the facility already has tested for compliance with federal water standards since 2016. “I’m overwhelmed to see this bill become law,” Jackson said. “I'm happy with the advancements we made on this issue last session, but I will continue to work diligently next year and the year after that until the safety and health of our children is no longer at risk.”


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB DESCRIBES COVID-19 'MARATHON' - Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, State Health Officials, and other leaders held a daily briefing to update the state's response to the COVID-19 outbreak (WPTA-TV). Thursday morning, the Indiana Department of Health said 17 Hoosiers have died, and 645 patients have been confirmed to have the virus. While testing has expanded greatly in Indiana, health officials are preparing for a surge of cases. "I hope this will remind us that this isn't just a marathon. This is a triathlon. This is something that will require us to not let up," Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb said. "We need to do more, not less."

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB PLEASED WITH STAY-AT-HOME RESPONSE - Gov. Eric Holcomb says he's pleased by the progress with his "Stay-At-Home" order since it took effect Wednesday (Smith, Indiana Public Media). That’s despite many questions about how it’s working and whether people are following it. Holcomb says the “proof is in the pudding” when looking at traffic patterns, for instance, to determine whether his "Stay-At-Home" order is working. “It’s all in an effort to get through this so that 100 percent can go back to work, not just the essential companies,” Holcomb says. State Police Superintendent Doug Carter says he’s gotten a few reports about police stopping people, asking for proof that they’re allowed to be out under the "Stay-At-Home" order. “There is no need in Indiana, anywhere in Indiana – in any city, any county in Indiana – where you have to have a document explaining that you’re essential or not,” Carter says.

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS EXECUTIVE ORDERS - Gov. Eric J. Holcomb today signed a new executive order in a continuing effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here to see the executive order (Howey Politics Indiana). Gov. Holcomb outlined these new additional efforts in the executive order: The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has suspended the one-week waiting period that is required before paying unemployment benefits to allow claimants to receive their checks more quickly. The suspension is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Hoosiers with chronic health issues will be able to receive a 90-day supply of their non-controlled prescription medication, such as insulin or cholesterol medications. Medicaid recipients can use their benefits to cover costs of using alternate forms of transportation, such as ride-sharing services, for appointments to see their healthcare providers. The Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) has additional funding flexibility to allow for additional home delivery of meals. The Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) has extended deadlines related to local government finances.

GOVERNOR: KEY TAKEAWAYS FOR VIRUS BRIEFING – Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials briefed reporters Thursday on developments at the state level in the battle against COVID-19 (WRTV). Here are some key takeaways from the briefing:

Gov. Holcomb: Says he is "110-percent" behind the decision to move Indy 500 to August, announced Thursday.The governor signed an executive order allowing the Department of Workforce Development to suspend the one-week waiting period that is required before paying unemployment benefits. Hoosiers with chronic health issues will be able to receive a 90-day supply of their non-controlled prescription medication, such as insulin or cholesterol medications. Medicaid recipients can use their benefits to cover costs of using alternate forms of transportation, such as ride-sharing services, for appointments to see their doctors.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box: Covid-19 death toll increases to 17 in Indiana. 170 new cases since Wednesday. 645 total cases. Box continues to hear about people who are gathering in groups to take advantage of the nice weather. "We need to socially distance ourselves, even as we take our walks through the woods or the park." This applies to "each and every Hoosier. Encourages all long-term care facilities to have a firm plan in place to house patients who test positive for COVID-19. INDOT and the Indiana National Guard began delivering medical supplies from the federal stockpile Thursday to Indiana hospitals.

Fred Payne, Indiana Department of Workforce Development Director: For week ending March 21, 62,777 new Indiana unemployment insurance claims were filed. Compare that to just 23,000 claims filed the entire month of January. Federal government has extended by 13-weeks the unemployment insurance benefits expiration date from 26-weeks to 39-weeks in addition to a $600 per-week benefits increase for the next four months.

Chris Johnson, Director, Office of Management and Budget: State began the year with a budget surplus of $2.3 billion. That will not last. The state is tapping into the reserves to combat COVID-19. Revenue from the gaming industry will suffer after closure of casinos last week. By postponing the filing of state taxes to July 15 the state will see a significant dent in revenues until July. State faces complex finance issues in coming months.

CORRECTIONS: INMATES STILL EATING MEALS TOGETHER - Indiana’s prison populations are still eating meals together in large groups and mixing during outdoor recreation even as Hoosiers are keeping their distance as a stay-at-home order took effect Wednesday aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus (AP). The Indiana Department of Correction suspended visitation at its prisons two weeks ago to limit the possibility of the virus being brought into the state’s 20 correctional facilities. A recent directive from the agency’s commissioner also outlined pandemic procedures, including monitoring for outbreaks and separating ill offenders from other inmates. But hundreds of inmates are still together during outdoor recreation time and offenders take their meals together in large groups, The Journal Gazette reported Wednesday. Agency spokesman David Bursten said that during outdoor recreation periods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines on social distancing of six feet or more “are being followed as permitted.”

NATIONAL GUARD: DISTRIBUTING SUPPLIES - Indiana’s National Guard is helping distribute supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile to hospitals across the state and is taking the lead as supplies come in (Chapman, Indiana Public Media). The Indiana National Guard coordinated with the Indiana State Department of Health, Department of Transportation and State Police to get hundreds of boxes of supplies to counties across the state. As more supplies come in, Indiana National Guard Adjutant General Dale Lyles says the Guard will continue to work as a distribution point. “We have to stay connected with Dr. Box and her people at the department of health because they have the analytics that tell us where it’s going to be needed in the upcoming weeks,” Lyles says. “The interagency operation that’s come here today is made possible because Governor Holcomb told me, when we started this operation, ‘General Lyles, whatever you need, whatever it takes, you get it,’” Lyles says.

IOSHA: 280 COMPLAINTS RECEIVED -  As non-essential workers are told to stay home, we’re getting new numbers from the state from employees who say they shouldn’t be forced to go to work (CBS4). As of close of business Wednesday, there have been 280 non-formal complaints made to the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration. That’s from people concerned about how businesses are handling the coronavirus epidemic. A non-formal complaint means the state will send a letter to that employer, and the company will have to prove information and an explanation to the state in a few days. Then the state will decide if a formal complaint needs to be made.

INSURANCE: BULLETIN WILL HELP CONSUMERS - Due to the declaration of a public health emergency throughout the State of Indiana as a result of the coronavirus disease 2019 (“COVID-19”) and the issuance of Governor Holcomb’s Executive Order 20-05, on March 19, 2020, the Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) issued Bulletin 252 to assist consumers, businesses, and entities regulated by the IDOI (Howey Politics Indiana). In Bulletin 252, the IDOI requests all insurance companies and HMOs in Indiana to institute a moratorium on policy cancellations and non-renewals of any insurance policy in effect for a policyholder in Indiana to allow a grace period for any policyholder in Indiana for a period of 60-days for any premium payment due from March 19 to May 18, 2020. Bulletin 252 also addresses cost-sharing and prior authorizations for COVID-19 testing services and treatment. The IDOI reminds health insurers and HMOs about the enactment of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act Public Law 116-127, (H.R. 6201), and interprets that increase prices or coverage costs involving medical care given for COVID-19. To ensure healthcare access to all Hoosiers, Commissioner Stephen W. Robertson in Bulletin 252 temporarily suspended requirements for providers participating in the Indiana Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) to hold an Indiana license. Out-of-state licensed providers are eligible for the credits and rate reductions listed in Rule 21 and Rule 60.

AUTOS: PLANTS TO REOPEN, BUT UAW SKEPTICAL - Ford, Fiat Chrysler, Honda and Toyota took steps Thursday to restart North American factories that have been closed to protect workers from the coronavirus (AP). The plants would reopen in early or mid-April, restoring the largest source of cash for automakers that generally book revenue when they ship vehicles to dealerships. The four automakers employ thousands of workers in Indiana. Auto companies, like other businesses, are trying to manage their way through the coronavirus crisis, which has forced factories to close amid employee concerns that they could catch the virus while working close to others at factory work stations. Ford said it wants to reopen five North American assembly plants, starting with one in Mexico April 6 and continuing with four in the U.S. on April 14. The move was immediately met with skepticism by the United Auto Workers union, which represents 56,000 Ford factory workers. “The UAW continues to review with great caution and concern decisions being made about restarting workplaces, especially at advanced dates,” union President Rory Gamble said in a statement.

AUTOS: TOYOTA EXTENDS SHUTDOWN BY 2 WEEKS AT PRINCETON - Toyota has extended its two-week closure to four weeks (WFIE-TV). Plant officials sent a statement saying they will resume operations on April 20. “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and decline in vehicle demand, Toyota is further extending the length of its production suspension at all of its automobile and components plants in North America, including Canada, Mexico and the U.S. The manufacturing facilities, including Toyota Indiana, will remain closed through April 17, resuming production on April 20. Our service parts operations and finished vehicle logistics centers will continue to operate in order to continue meeting the needs of our customers. We will continue to monitor the situation and take appropriate action in a timely manner.” We asked about payment for employees and received another statement. "We will pay Toyota Indiana Production, Skilled and Track team members through April 10, 2020. Given the sales impact to the business, we will not be able to extend the pay period beyond what has been designated thus far. Team members have the option to use personal time off or unpaid time off the week of April 13."

AUTOS: HONDA EXTENDS SHUTDOWN TO APRIL 7 - Honda has announced that it will extend the production suspension previously announced for all of its automobile, engine and transmission plants in the U.S. and Canada, including the plant in Greensburg (Columbus Republic). Honda’s original production suspension was from March 23 through March 30, with a planned return date of March 31. With this extension of five production days, operations will resume on April 7, officials said in a news release.

EDUCATION: IU SUMMER CLASSES WILL BE ONLINE - Indiana University's suspension of in-person classes will continue through the summer (Bloomington Herald-Times). The decision was announced Thursday in a letter from from IU Bloomington Provost Lauren Robel that touched on several topics related to COVID-19. While Robel's letter was written specifically for the Bloomington campus, all summer session classes for all IU campuses will be online. "Regretfully, our best projections about the arc of the pandemic in Indiana require that we continue our current online teaching during the summer sessions," Robel said in the letter.

EDUCATION: DOOLEY PROMOTED BY PURDUE CHANCELLOR - Frank Dooley has been promoted to chancellor of Purdue University Global. He previously served as senior vice provost for teaching and learning. Dooley was a key leader of the team that secured the regulatory approvals and helped launch Purdue Global in 2017 (Inside Indiana Business). He began at the university in 1998, serving in the Department of Agricultural Economics. Dooley has also served as professor of agricultural economics, associate head of the department, Provost Fellow, associate vice provost for undergraduate academic affairs and vice provost for teaching and learning.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP QUESTIONS NEED FOR VENTILATORS - Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York says his state needs 30,000 ventilators to respond to the escalating coronavirus crisis. President Donald Trump doesn’t believe him (Politico). Speaking with Sean Hannity on Fox News on Thursday night, Trump again minimized the impact of the global coronavirus pandemic, casting doubt on the need for tens of thousands of ventilators for hospitals responding to the crisis. “I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” he said. “I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TELLS GOVERNORS OF NEW SOCIAL DISTANCING GUIDELINES - In a letter to the nation's governors on Thursday, President Trump said his administration is working on new guidelines to help state and local policymakers determine whether they should maintain, increase or relax social distancing measures they've put in place to mitigate the fallout from the coronavirus (CBS News). On March 16, the White House issued guidelines about how Americans can "slow the spread" of the virus over a 15-day period, but governors and local officials have been making decisions about closing businesses and schools for themselves. In Washington, D.C., the mayor has ordered the closing of all non-essential businesses until at least April 24. Mr. Trump has established a goal of Easter Sunday, April 12, for returning Americans to work and the economy to some version of normalcy, although he concedes that won't be possible everywhere, and public health experts warn Easter is much too soon to consider relaxing measures to stop the spread of the virus. "There is still a long battle ahead, but our efforts are already paying dividends," the president said in his letter Thursday. "As we enhance protections against the virus, Americans across the country are hoping the day will soon arrive when they can resume their normal economic, social and religious lives."

WHITE HOUSE: AIDES STEER TRUMP AWAY FROM EASTER BACK TO WORK - Believing the worst is yet to come, some top advisers to President Trump are struggling to steer him away from Easter as an arbitrary deadline for much of the nation to reopen (Axios). The operating assumption among administration officials involved in the coronavirus planning is that the April 12 mark — 16 days away — will not, in fact, turn out to be the starting gun for businesses across America to reopen. But Trump is far from chastened. "I don’t think he feels in any way that his messaging was off," a top official said. "He feels more convinced than ever that America needs to get back to work." Dr. Anthony Fauci said on CNN last night that Easter was Trump's "aspirational projection" to "give people some hope." But Fauci said Trump is "listening to us when we say we really got to reevaluate it, in real time.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP/PENCE SCHEDULE – President Trump has nothing on his public schedule. The coronavirus task force will hold a briefing at 5 p.m.

CDC: 1.5M N95 MASKS IN INDY WAREHOUSE - Nearly 1.5 million N95 respirator masks are sitting in a U.S. government warehouse in Indiana and authorities have not shipped them because they are past their expiration date, despite Centers for Disease Control guidelines that have been issued for their safe use during the coronavirus outbreak, according to five people with knowledge of the stockpile (IBJ). Department of Homeland Security officials had a conference call Wednesday to figure out what to do with the masks, which are part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s emergency supplies. DHS officials decided to offer the respirators to the Transportation Security Administration, whose workforce has been clamoring for protective equipment, according to three of the people who described the plans on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly. CBP has no plans to offer the masks to hard-hit hospitals, or hand them over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, three of the people said.

CDC: MORE BIG CITIES SEE VIRUS CASE SPIKE - A second wave of cities — including Boston, Detroit, New Orleans and Philadelphia — are seeing increases in confirmed coronavirus cases, and could become new hot spots if they're not able to bring their cases under control soon, (Axios). Whether these cities can prevent their outbreaks from spiraling out of control will be a major test for the U.S.' ability to contain the virus. New Orleans in particular is nearing a crisis, with hospitals already becoming overwhelmed and supplies of medical safety gear running low. "[T]here is a rising suspicion among medical experts that the crisis may have been accelerated by Mardi Gras ... which this year culminated on Feb. 25," per the N.Y. Times. Orleans Parish has had the highest number of deaths per capita of any county in the U.S. Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former FDA commissioner under President Trump who has been closely tracking the pandemic, tweeted last night: "I’m worried about emerging situations in New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia, among others."

WEATHER: HURRICANE FORECAST COMPARES TO 2005 - About two months from now, the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season will officially begin, but AccuWeather meteorologists have already been hard at work examining the factors that could influence tropical activity this year. Forecasters are anticipating another busy year for the Atlantic Basin in 2020, on the heels of an active 2019 season. Led by Dan Kottlowksi, AccuWeather's top hurricane expert, meteorologists this week released a 2020 Atlantic hurricane forecast. Kottlowksi's team is calling for 14-18 tropical storms during this upcoming season, which runs from June 1 through Nov. 30. Of those storms, seven to nine are forecast to become hurricanes, and two to four are predicted to strengthen into major hurricanes. “It’s going to be an above-normal season,” Kottlowski said. “On a normal year, we have around 12 storms, six hurricanes and roughly three major hurricanes.” This year, AccuWeather meteorologists have looked closely at the years 1980 and 2005. Meanwhile, 2005 was a particularly “hyperactive year," Kottlowski said, that resulted in a whopping 28 storms.

MEDIA: SUNDAY TALK - "Fox News Sunday": Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Thomas Inglesby. Panel: Marc Thiessen, Kristen Soltis Anderson and Juan Williams. Power Player: Joel Osteen. CBS "Face the Nation": Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, David Heymann, Scott Gottlieb. ABC "This Week": Panel: Jon Karl, Jennifer Ashton and Tom Bossert. CNN "Inside Politics": Seung Min Kim, Kaitlan Collins, Dr. Ashish Jah and Dr. Megan Ranney.

MICHIGAN: VIRUS NUMBERS EXPLODE - The number of coronavirus cases in Michigan has skyrocketed to nearly 3,000 from less than 350 a week ago, but the state is still struggling to obtain supplies behind the states where the pandemic has hit the hardest (CNN). For weeks, the scenes of coronavirus outbreaks in New York, Washington and California have captured the nation's attention as the epicenters of the crisis in the United States. But as the pandemic takes hold elsewhere, the finite number of live-saving equipment like ventilators, face masks and personal protective equipment -- as well as the inability of the national stockpile to make up for all of the shortages -- is coming into clear view, leaving a gap between states that encountered outbreaks early and those that are seeing their numbers ramp up now. Michigan, the site of one of the country's fastest growing outbreaks, has found itself unable to get an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, with lawmakers telling CNN that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had placed an order only to be told by the company later the federal government had placed an order that would take priority.


KOKOMO: MAYOR MOORE URGES PEOPLE TO STAY HOME - Continue to stay home and only leave when necessary. That was the message Kokomo Mayor Tyler Moore and Howard County Commissioner Paul Wyman said repeatedly during an hour-long joint Facebook Live stream Wednesday evening that had more than 500 people viewing at peak (Kokomo Tribune). The two local elected officials gave an update on local numbers and answered questions from the public regarding COVID-19. The full livestream can be viewed on the city's Facebook page. Here are some of the highlights: Howard County had a new confirmed case Wednesday, the two said, bringing the county’s total to seven. Two of those seven, Wyman said, are people who don’t live in the county but do work in the county. That number will likely go up as the county still has upwards of a 100 cases to be tested. Moore said it’s currently taking about a week for test results to come back, and Wyman added that those being tested in the county are “high risk,” mostly including hospital workers and family members of those showing symptoms.

CARMEL: MAYOR BRAINARD CLOSES GOLF COURSES - The city’s mayor Thursday ordered all golf courses to close although Gov. Eric Holcomb had made an exception in his “stay at home” order to keep them open (WISH-TV). A news release from Carmel said that “golfers are touching flags, using carts, retrieving balls from cups – which poses a problem because the COVID-19 virus can live on these kinds of surfaces for up to three days.” Mayor Jim Brainard said in the release, “The governor made an exception for golf courses, but the number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County is far higher than the state average, so I issued this order today under the authority I have to limit non-essential travel. In other words, travel to golf courses, except for walking, is prohibited. Maintenance of golf courses is still allowed.”

MICHIGAN CITY: VIRUS TESTING SITE MOVED - Franciscan Health Michigan City’s COVID-19 testing site will be relocated to another campus that will provide a larger space (Ortiz, NWI Times). Starting Monday, the testing site will be at the former hospital campus at 301 W. Homer St. in Michigan City, said Franciscan Health Northern Division Spokesman Robert Blaszkiewicz. The relocation was to have a larger space and will be a drive-up site like the current location, he said.

LAFAYETTE: 3 ORGANIZATIONS COME TOGETHER FOR VIRUS RESPONSE - United Way of Greater Lafayette, The Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, and Greater Lafayette Commerce announced on Thursday a joint effort to bring relief to individuals and families affected by the coronavirus outbreak (WLFI-TV). The goal of the Tippecanoe County COVID-19 Response Fund is "to rapidly deploy resources to local organizations that are offering emergency relief to families and individuals in need and to those who are looking for innovative means to continue to provide support networks for those who need it most." A hundred percent of the contributions will go toward response efforts in Tippecanoe County.

ZIONSVILLE: NEW PD CHIEF NAMED - The town of Zionsville will soon have a new police chief (WIBC). Mayor Emily Styron named Michael Spears as the next Chief of Police for the Zionsville Police Department. Spears takes over for Chief Robert Knox, who is retiring after eight years as the leader of Zionsville PD. “Chief Knox is a beloved member of our community and has been a leader in Zionsville and Boone County for decades,” said Mayor Styron. “I felt we owed it to the department and to the town to select a leader that could pick up where Chief Knox left off and carry us forward.”

ALLEN COUNTY: 20 INMATES RELEASED EARLY - More than 20 inmates were released from the Allen County Jail on Wednesday, part of an effort to cut back on the jail population amid the coronavirus outbreak, WANE 15 has learned. The Allen County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to WANE 15 that the jail was sent an order from Allen Superior Court around 5 p.m. Wednesday, directing jailers to release 20-25 inmates. Court Executive John McGauley told WANE 15 that Judge Fran Gull consulted Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mike McAlexander with the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office on ways to manage the jail population during the COVID-19 emergency. McGauley described the jail as “severely overcrowded.”

MARION COUNTY: 2 INMATES ISOLATED - Two inmates at the Marion County Jail are in now isolation over coronavirus-related concerns (CBS4). The Marion County Sheriff's Office confirmed that one inmate is being isolated due to potential exposure. The other inmate had arrived to the jail and was displaying signs and symptoms. On Monday, we reported a Marion County Sheriff’s Office employee tested positive for COVID-19. One of the inmates was potentially exposed to the coronavirus by the employee who tested positive. The two inmates are both being housed in single bed isolation rooms.

WAYNE COUNTY: HEALTH OFFICIALS SAYS 'PEOPLE WILL DIE' - A Wayne County resident has tested positive for COVID-19 (Emery, Richmond Palladium-Item). But hours before announcing that presumptive positive test, Executive Director Christine Stinson of the Wayne County Health Department told the Wayne County Board of Commissioners that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 impacts the county far more than that. "We know we have COVID-19 in our community," Stinson said as she addressed the commissioners in their largely empty chambers inside the Wayne County Government Annex. Commissioner Denny Burns attended the meeting by phone, and Commissioners Ken Paust and Mary Anne Butters and others on site practiced social distancing. Stinson described "many, many" callers to the health department each day wanting to be tested for COVID-19. She also knew of Wayne County residents whose tests were pending and of Wayne County residents hospitalized at Reid Health and suspected of having COVID-19. "We know people have COVID-19 in this community, we know people will be hospitalized in this community, we know people will die in this community regardless of what we’re doing," Stinson told the commissioners on the first day of Gov. Eric Holcomb's two-week stay-at-home order, a policy Wayne County implemented last week.

LAKE COUNTY: DEPUTY TESTS POSITIVE - A 41-year-old Lake County officer has tested positive for coronavirus, Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez confirmed (Ortiz, NWI Times). On Thursday the Lake County Sheriff's Office announced the officer’s test results came back positive. “The officer was on duty on March 18 when he advised his supervisor that he was experiencing flu-like symptoms,” Martinez said. “His supervisor immediately sent him home and told him to self-quarantine and, if possible, to get tested for the virus.”

HUNTINGTON COUNTY: 1ST VIRUS CASE REPORTED - The first positive result for COVID-19 has been returned in Huntington County (WPTA-TV). The Department of Health there made the announcement late Thursday afternoon. It was also shared via the county's Emergency Management social media pages.

CLINTON COUNTY: 1ST CASE REPORTED - The Clinton County Health Department has reported its first case of COVID-19. According to a released statement, the person has been referred to their physician and is resting at home in quarantine (WLFI-TV). Officials are following up on the case.

PUTNAM COUNTY: 1ST DEATH REPORTED -  One death in Putnam County has been attributed to COVID-19 in the daily update released this morning by the Indiana State Department of Health (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). The number of confirmed cases remains the same in Vigo County (3) and Sullivan County (1), and no cases have been reported in Vermillion, Parke or Clay counties. The Putnam County Health Department issued a news release, saying the adult from Putnam County passed away at an outlying facility on Wednesday morning. "The person, who was over age 60, had been hospitalized as COVID-19 patient and also suffered from underlying medical conditions. No further information will be released about the patient or the case," the release said.