HEALTH DATA TOOL CALCULATES INDIANA VIRUS IMPACTS: The University of Washington has produced state-by-state projections of COVID-19 impacts. Indiana is projected to reach its peak of just over 30,000 cases around April 17 and 2,400 deaths by August (Howey Politics Indiana). It says the state has 8,485 available beds, and will need 10,458, for a bed shortage of 1,973. It projects there are 706 Intensive Care Unit beds available, while the demand will be 1,582 beds, for an ICU bed shortage of 876 beds. It projects Indiana will need 854 invasive ventilators, though it does not specify how many ventilators the state has. Indiana Health Commissioner Kristina Box declined to state how many ICU beds and ventilators Indiana has during a press conference last week, citing "confidentiality" with state hospitals. She said she’s seeing “positive movements” in availability of ICU beds and ventilators (AP). “Because everybody is stepping up to the plate and trying to pretty much double their ICU capacity, I’m seeing those numbers increase as we go along,” Box said. The University of Washington study projects Indiana will have 2,440 deaths by Aug. 4. It projects the state will have around 320 deaths per day around April 15. The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced Sunday morning that 290 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19. That brings to 1,514 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s total. Thirty-two Hoosiers have died. To date, 9,830 tests have been reported to ISDH, up from 8,407 on Saturday. Marion County had the most new cases, at 119, while Lake County had 17, Johnson County had 15, Hendricks County had 12 and Hamilton County had 10. 

HOLCOMB, BOX SAYS VIRUS PEAK STILL WEEKS AWAY: The full force of Indiana’s outbreak of COVID-19 is still weeks away, and is not likely to peak until in mid- or late April, Indiana’s top health official said Friday, pointing out that hospitals in the state are doing everything possible to gear up for the worst of the outbreak. “I still think we are in a little bit of the calm before the storm,” said Dr. Kris Box, the state’s health commissioner (Russell, IBJ). But state officials again refused to say how many ventilators or intensive-care unit beds hospitals have, citing confidentiality agreements with hospitals and vendors. Box said hospitals will expand ICU areas or find ventilators on their own or with state assistance. Gov. Eric Holcomb agreed that the number of infected Hoosiers will continue to increase for at least several more weeks, with numbers growing substantially larger each day, due to more people getting sick and more getting tested. “We don’t see the peak yet,” he said. Like Box, he declined to provide any numbers of ventilators or ICU beds, even on a regional or statewide basis. That’s even as some neighboring states, including Ohio, are updating the public daily on those figures. Many states are expecting a ventilator shortage as the number of cases grows, but Indiana officials have not commented on that. Holcomb only said that Indiana hospital have enough ventilators and ICU beds to deal with the patient volumes they have right now. He said he would keep the public informed about specific steps the state might take when Indiana gets closer to the peak of COVID-19 cases.

HARVARD STUDY SAYS NE INDIANA COULD RUN OUT OF HOSPITAL BEDS: A study by Harvard University pandemic-tracking researchers predicts Fort Wayne-area hospitals will run out of beds if 40% of adults develop COVID-19 over 12 months (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The researchers describe the projection as a “moderate” trajectory for the worldwide epidemic. That means the region is among those that would have to expand hospital capacity rapidly to keep up with treating patients – although the situation is not as dire as in many other areas, the researchers said in the study released this month. However, local intensive care units would be overwhelmed. The study found the region has, on average, 143 available intensive care beds – and would need 2.75 times more than the current capacity to care for the sickest COVID-19 patients under the moderate 12-month scenario.  So the region would need 393 intensive care beds. Local health officials said the Fort Wayne region likely has not yet reached even the 20% infection rate, although it's difficult to know because of limited testing. As of Saturday, Allen County had 26 confirmed cases. Dr. Deborah McMahan, Allen County Department of Health commissioner, said in an email it is difficult to assess the study's accuracy in making predictions because numerous factors could affect the course of the disease. But, she said: “Looking at the escalation of cases proportionate to the availability of (hospital and) intensive care unit beds is important for planning. ... I believe (the study) ... highlights the need and impact of social distancing to slow spread and allow hospitals to meet the need.”

FED OFFICIALS MISLEAD STATES ON VIRUS TESTING: From its biggest cities to its smallest towns, America’s chance to contain the coronavirus crisis came and went in the seven weeks since U.S. health officials botched the testing rollout and then misled scientists in state laboratories about this critical early failure (USA Today). Federal regulators failed to recognize the spiraling disaster and were slow to relax the rules that prevented labs and major hospitals from advancing a backup. Scientists around the country found themselves shackled as the disease spread.  “We were watching a tsunami and standing there frozen,” said Dr. Debra Wadford, director of the public viral disease laboratory in California, where some of the country's earliest patients were identified. The nation’s public health pillars — the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration — shirked their responsibility to protect Americans in an emergency like this new coronavirus, USA TODAY found in interviews with dozens of scientists, public health experts and community leaders, as well as email communications between laboratories and hospitals across the country. The result was a cascading series of failures now costing lives. CDC leaders not only bungled their role in developing the first coronavirus test permitted in the country, they also misrepresented the efficacy of early solutions to state health authorities. In late February, the CDC's deputy director of infectious disease projected calm in a conference call with state laboratories. The labs were told they could now send samples to the CDC and receive results within 24 hours. “That was a bald-faced lie,” said Wadford. At that point, she was waiting four to five days on test results for samples she had sent to the CDC. “The most disappointing part was that they couldn’t just be frank and straight with us,” said Wadford, who took detailed notes of the conference call that she dictated to USA TODAY. “Tell us the situation. Don’t sugarcoat it and lie. But to mislead us is just not right.” The following week, President Trump tweeted: “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA. We are in contact with everyone and all relevant countries. CDC & World Health have been working hard and very smart. Stock Market starting to look very good to me!”

TESTING WAS UNAVAILABLE IN SOUTHERN INDIANA FOR WEEKS: The crisis may soon be just as dire in rural communities. As of mid-March, Dr. April Abbott, the microbiology lab director at the largest hospital chain in southern Indiana, said she could not get equipment to run her own tests, in part because the federal government does not consider her area a priority like New York or California (USA Today). “We're not able to get testing supplies because we can't prove we need them,” Abbott said, “And we can't prove we need them because we can't perform the tests.”  Abbott initially looked into sending her Deaconess Hospital patients’ samples to other labs. But the state-run lab told her they were too overwhelmed by a bottleneck of demand to take them. Increasingly alarmed, she sent emails to private companies pleading for them to loan her equipment to run tests. “Below Indianapolis, our state has virtually no functional testing capability,” Abbott wrote to a diagnostics company on March 16. “I cannot overemphasize the lack of testing available in our region.” Eventually she found labs in other states to take her samples, but results took almost two weeks. “The infrastructure has failed us,” Abbott said in an interview. As of mid-week, Indiana had confirmed just 645 cases of coronavirus.

CDC BUNGLED COMMUNICATIONS WITH STATES: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention underestimated the threat from the emerging outbreak of the coronavirus in the US — and bungled its communication with local public health agencies about what actions to take, according to a report (New York Post). ProPublica obtained hundreds of pages of documents that it said painted a picture of chaos at the country’s leading national public health agency that slowed the early response to the deadly illness. On Feb. 13, the CDC sent out an email with what the writer described as an “URGENT” appeal for assistance as the agency was struggling to keep track of people suspected of being infected, the nonprofit news outlet reported. “Help needed urgently,” the missive said amid “an ongoing issue” with organizing — and at times even misplacing — material sent by local agencies about Americans believed to be infected. In a bid to correct the botched efforts, the CDC listed job postings for candidates who could track down the missing paperwork, according to ProPublica, which obtained the trove of documents between federal and state officials through a records request in Nevada. By the time the jobs posting went out, there were already 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the US — two weeks before the first case of community transmission was reported in California.

DR. FAUCI THROWS COLD WATER ON EASTER REOPENING: Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, threw some cold water on President Donald Trump’s target date of Easter, which falls on April 12, to relax social distancing guidelines and reopen the country (Mediate). Appearing on a CNN virtual town hall with Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Fauci was confronted by Gupta on why Trump suggested that restrictions could soon be eased when the number of coronavirus cases per day continues to dramatically escalate across the country. “Why raise the idea that a pullback is even close?” Gupta asked. “I think what the president was trying to do, he was making an aspirational projection to give people some hope,” Fauci replied. “He’s listening to us when we say we’ve really got to reevaluate it in real-time,” Fauci said. “And any decision we make has to be based on the data.”

PENCE SAYS TASK FORCE WILL MAKE REOPENING RECOMMENDATIONS: Vice President Mike Pence, heading the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak, said on Saturday that he would deliver a recommendation to the president on whether to re-open the U.S. economy in the coming week (Reuters). Pence told the Fox News Channel that the taskforce he heads would base its decision on data and scientific advice. “Ultimately the president will make a decision that he believes in the best interest of the American people,” he said.

TRUMP ASKS PENCE NOT TO CALL NON 'APPRECIATIVE' GOVERNORS: President Donald Trump said Friday he has asked Vice President Mike Pence not to call governors he says have not been "appreciative" enough of his efforts on coronavirus – a group of critics that included a governor he referred to only by gender (Detroit Free Press). "Don't call the woman in Michigan," Trump said at a press conference while discussing Pence's work as head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. That governor – Gretchen Whitmer – replied on Twitter that "right now, we all need to be focused on fighting the virus, not each other." "I’m willing to work with anyone as long as we get the personal protective equipment we need for the people of Michigan," she said. Trump told reporters that most – but not all – governors have been appreciative of his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic. "I want them to be appreciative," he said. "I don't want them to say things that aren't true." Asked which governors he was referring to, Trump slammed Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, calling him “a failed presidential candidate.” Whitmer, he said, “has no idea what’s going on, and all she does is say it’s the federal government’s fault."

TRUMP ORDERS MORE VENTILATORS: Faced with a torrent of criticism from cities and states that have been pleading for help to deal with the most critically ill coronavirus victims, President Trump announced on Friday that the federal government would buy thousands of ventilators from a variety of makers, though it appeared doubtful they could be produced in time to help hospitals that are now overwhelmed (New York Times). His announcement came shortly after authorizing the government to “use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act,” a Korean War-era authority allowing the federal government to commandeer General Motors’ factories and supply chains, to produce ventilators. It was the latest example of Mr. Trump’s mixed messages about how to ramp up production to meet a national crisis. Just 24 hours before, he had dismissed the complaints of mayors and governors who said that they were getting little of the equipment they needed for an expected onslaught of serious cases. And this week he praised companies that — General Motors included — were rallying to help provide necessary equipment. But he turned on G.M. on Friday, accusing it of “wasting time” and seeking to “rip off” the government. “Our fight against the virus is too urgent to allow the give-and-take of the contracting process to continue to run its normal course,” the president said. But it was unclear whether Mr. Trump’s use of the law would make much difference. He was essentially ordering the company to do something it had already arranged to do: G.M. announced earlier on Friday that it was moving forward with an emergency joint venture with a small manufacturer, Ventec Life Systems, even in the absence of a contract from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Start wrapping your mind around the likelihood that we will have to maintain social distancing and societal shutdown through the end of April, if not mid-May. - Brian A. Howey

Presidential 2020

BIDEN HAS 2% LEAD OVER TRUMP IN ABC/WP POLL: President Trump and former vice president Joe Biden are in a tightly competitive race for the White House in the November general election, with the president gaining ground on his likely challenger over the past month as the coronavirus pandemic convulses the country, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Trump has moved from what was a seven-point deficit in February to a near tie with Biden today. Among registered voters, Biden is favored by 49 percent and Trump by 47 percent. When the poll measures preferences among all adults, Biden stands at 50 percent and Trump at 44 percent. Trump is more trusted to handle the economy, while Biden is more trusted to deal with health care. When voters are asked whom they trust more to confront the coronavirus outbreak, the difference between the two is statistically insignificant.

BIDEN LEADS TRUMP BY 9% IN FOX NEWS POLL: A new poll has President Trump trailing Joe Biden by nine points in a head-to-head matchup. The findings — outside the Fox News poll’s margin of error — show Trump’s numbers against Biden virtually unchanged from January. Voters quizzed gave the former vice president high marks for his promise to nominate a woman as his vice president, with 63% saying they approved of the idea. President Trump continued to hold wide leads with his base voters, including conservatives, white evangelicals, regular churchgoers, white men, and whites without a college degree. The survey was conducted between March 21 and March 24. The poll suggests that while the president’s approval ratings for handling the coronavirus crisis are improving, it is so far not translating into a general election advantage against Biden. President Trump’s overall approval ratings hit 49% this week according to the latest numbers from Gallup, numbers Trump hasn’t seen since the height of his Senate impeachment trial in February. A further 60% of Americans said he was doing a good job at handling the coronavirus pandemic.

POLL SHOWS PUBLIC NOT BUYING VIRUS DISINFORMATION: A clear majority of the American public, including self-identified Republicans, do not believe the disinformation that President Donald Trump keeps pushing around the spread of coronavirus. And even members of the president’s own party are skeptical of his argument that getting the country back to work needs to be as prioritized as public safety measures (Daily Beast).  A new survey conducted by Ipsos exclusively for The Daily Beast provides some of the clearest evidence to date that the president’s attempts to paint a rosy picture about the coronavirus’ spread throughout the country are not resonating beyond a small segment of the populace with a small exception for those who say they’re getting their information from Fox News. A full 73 percent of respondents, including 75 percent of Republicans, said that it was not true that “anyone who wants to get tested [for the virus] can get tested.” Just 17 percent said it was true. Only 20 percent of the public, and just 25 percent of Republicans, said that they believed a vaccine will be available soon. Forty-two percent said that was false and 38 percent said they did not know. Fifty-one percent of respondents, including a plurality or Republicans (46 percent), said it was false that the virus would go away on its own in warm weather, while just 13 percent said that was true. And 61 percent of respondents said that they believed COVID-19 was more deadly than the flu; with 22 percent saying it was about the same and 11 percent saying they believed it was less deadly.

VIRUS TRANSFORMS ELECTION: From the White House to the county courthouse, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically upended the 2020 elections (New York Times). Many Democratic leaders now doubt their national party convention will take place as planned in July, while President Trump’s determination to hold the Republican convention could collide with life-and-death realities. Both Mr. Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. are wary of holding public events too soon and may not engage in full-fledged campaigning until the summer. And hundreds of congressional, statewide and local candidates, who are always overshadowed in presidential years, are turning to the role of good Samaritan — aiding with groceries and hiring people newly out of work in an effort to stay visible without being insensitive to the crisis. The virus has fundamentally transformed political life in America, affecting how candidates communicate with voters, raise money from donors and confront their opponents. This is for now the country’s first virtual campaign, as the risk of disease physically separates candidates from the people they seek to represent, and pushes officeseekers from Mr. Biden on down to appeal to homebound voters and contributors through balky web videos.

Sunday Talk

DR. FAUCI SAYS 'MORALE' BEING CONSIDERED: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday that morale was considered when administration officials decided to put in place a travel advisory rather than enforce a quarantine in the New York region, which has become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S. Fauci said the decision to issue a domestic travel advisory for New York, New Jersey and Connecticut was made after “intensive discussions” including the president. The original proposal considered was an “enforceable quarantine,” he said. “After discussion with the president, we made it clear and he agreed it would be much better to do what’s called a 'strong advisory,' ” Fauci said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

KUDLOW SEES REOPENING IN ‘WEEKS’: President Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday that the administration still believes the coronavirus pandemic “is going to be a question of weeks and months.” Kudlow pointed to the stimulus bill signed by Trump last week, which will provide money directly to Americans, when asked by on ABC’s "This Week" what he would say to reassure Americans worried about the effects of the crisis. “It may not be perfect, but I think it's going to give tremendous resources to get us through what we still believe is going to be a question of weeks and months, hopefully weeks,” he said. “Maybe I should say ‘prayerfully weeks’ that we think we can get through this period.”

MNUCHIN VOWS ECONOMY WILL BOUNCE BACK: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Sunday that the U.S. economy would bounce back later this year to levels seen before the coronavirus outbreak began. "Fox News Sunday" host Chris Wallace asked Mnuchin about estimates  that the U.S. could see unemployment as high as 20 percent and GDP down by as much as 24 percent in the second quarter of 2020. "It's hard to predict these numbers because we've never had anything like this where we shut down the U.S. economy for medical reasons," Mnuchin responded. "The economy was in very, very good health when we shut it down, and let me just say, we're very sympathetic to the people who don't have jobs, and that's why the president was very clear he wanted me to work with Congress on a bipartisan basis quickly to support those people."

PELOSI SAYS 'AS PRESIDENT FIDDLES, PEOPLE DYING: “As the president fiddles, people are dying,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday morning. Speaking to host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Pelosi said President Donald Trump has not taken the coronavirus crisis seriously enough from day one — and still hasn’t done enough. “The president, his denial at the beginning, was deadly,“ she said, saying the federal government is still lagging when it comes to getting testing kits and medical equipment to where they are needed. Pelosi cited the need for “testing, testing, testing” as the key step going forward. “This is such a tragedy. We don’t even know the magnitude of it because we don’t have adequate testing,” she said.

NJ GOVERNOR SAYS QUARANTINE UNNEEDED: New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) indicated Sunday that a quarantine for New York's tri-state area mentioned by President Trump wouldn’t be needed as the three states are taking “aggressive” actions to fight COVID-19. Murphy told ABC’s “This Week” that the governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut discussed the potential quarantine with White House officials and had “a lot of back and forth.” “The fact of that matter is our three states -- and I know New Jersey is obviously the best – we’re doing about as aggressive a set of steps as any states in America right now,” he told host Martha Raddatz.

GOV. EDWARDS SAYS LOUISIANA WILL BE 'OVERWHELMED': Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Sunday that the state’s health care system could become overwhelmed by early April. Edwards told ABC’s “This Week” that coronavirus cases are “surging our capacity now” with a “spread that is growing faster than we would like to see.” Governors, including Edwards, across the country are racing against time to obtain enough medical supplies like ventilators in order to continue to combat the virus. “We remain on a trajectory, really, to overwhelm our capacity to deliver health care,” Edwards said.


BROOKS ACTIVE IN EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS: Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, Rep. Susan Brooks was working to prepare for the crisis. Brooks, R-5th District, has served on the health subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee in the U.S. House and sponsored the reauthorization of the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness and Advancing Innovation Act (PAHPA) in 2019 (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald-Bulletin). During a telephone interview with The Herald Bulletin on Thursday, Brooks said the act was originally adopted in 2006 to prepare for a natural or man-made emergency. “Some of what we were working on to prepare has helped with the COVID-19 outbreak,” she said. “The bill created a strategic national stockpile of medical supplies.” Brooks said the measure allowed the government to buy the medical supplies and store them at strategic locations around the country. “The challenge with COVID-19 is that it’s new,” she said. “There were not tests in the stockpiles.”

BANKS BACKS RESCUE PACKAGE: U.S. Rep. Jim Banks supports the $2.2 trillion rescue bill (Howey Politics Indiana). “This bill will keep the lights on in America. It is chiefly designed to put cash in the hands of Americans who need help with bills and making sure food stays on the table,” Banks said Friday. “I would have written a different bill—I am dismayed to see some pork stuffed into this one. I also wish it could have passed earlier this week, before Speaker Pelosi interrupted the process.  Unlike a bailout, where a business fails and comes to the U.S. taxpayer for help, this is a relief package in response to a natural disaster. Businesses were forced to close for no other reason than it’s unsafe to remain open. We did not ask for this fight, an enemy arrived on our shores. And once we defeat this virus, our economy will heal. I thank President Trump and other Republicans who overcame obstacles and got this done.” It passed the House by a voice vote after passing the U.S. Senate 96-0 earlier this week. President Trump is expected the immediately sign what is the biggest rescue package in history.

REP. CARSON REACTS: U.S. Rep. André Carson released this statement after the passage of the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, Economic Security), a historic bill that puts families and workers first, which will now go to the President’s desk for his signature (Howey Politics Indiana). "I’m honored to support the CARES Act —  Congress’ biggest and boldest effort yet to tackle the COVID-19 crisis," Rep. Carson said. "This comprehensive legislation provides an unprecedented $2 trillion dollars to help our families, workers, and small businesses deal with this pandemic’s challenge to our health and our economy. And House Democrats worked to ensure this legislation prioritizes every day Americans and the people most in need of assistance."

REP. BAIRD REACTS: U.S. Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN) supports the passage of critical relief legislation, the CARES Act. This bipartisan legislation will provide for thousands of Hoosier families and small businesses who have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic (Howey Politics Indiana). “While American families worry about keeping their loved ones safe and healthy from COVID-19, many are also asking how they will be able to pay their bills and put food on their table. People are suffering by no fault of their own. They are unable to go to work and are unsure when they will return. Small business owners are doing everything possible to stay afloat while keeping their employees. This bold legislation intends to give some certainty to families, workers, and small business owners. While no legislation is perfect, the American people are depending on their elected officials to lead in a responsible and bipartisan manner. During an emergency like this, we cannot let them down.”

REP. BUCSHON REACTS: U.S. Rep. Larry Bucshon, M.D. (IN-08) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Senate’s phase 3 coronavirus emergency relief package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (Howey Politics Indiana): “These unprecedented times call for a unified front by the federal government to help Hoosiers struggling through no fault of their own. This relief package puts Americans first with aid for families, workers, small business owners, and health care providers on the front lines working tirelessly to save our friends, neighbors, and family members. We are giving America a fighting chance to both get through this health care crisis and save Main Street jobs that so many families depend on. I applaud Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his ardent work on this historic legislation that puts American workers first.”

General Assembly

SPEAKER HUSTON SAYS INDIANA BURNING THROUGH RESERVES:  Between Indiana's general fund reserves and unemployment trust fund, the state has more than $3 billion on hand to weather the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus (Kelly, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). But the reality is that might not be enough. “We are receiving very little revenue and our expenses are skyrocketing,” House Speaker Todd Huston said. “We are very conscientious. I would like to think we would be able to maintain a little surplus. But I think we have to be honest that we could run through it by the end of the year.” Indiana's surplus – including the Rainy Day Fund and a Tuition Support Fund – has $2.3 billion and the unemployment insurance trust fund has about $850 million. The Rainy Day Fund is intended to keep government going when tax revenue drops. So don't expect a state stimulus check akin to the indebted federal government. That's because Indiana constitutionally has to have a balanced budget and can only take on debt in very specific circumstances. “We are like any family – we can only spend as much as we take in,” Huston said. “We have to manage through this using existing resources. We will look through the budget and look at things that are non-essential.”


GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SAYS INMATES MAKING FACEMASKS - Offenders at the Miami Correctional Facility are producing face masks, personal protection gowns, face shields and hand sanitizer to be used in the fight against COVID-19 in Indiana (WTHR-TV). “I’m pleased to have the Department of Correction joining the ranks of Hoosier businesses, large and small, stepping forward in the fight against COVID-19. Production of these items will lessen the strain on the supply chain, leaving more of these products available for Hoosiers,” said Gov. Eric Holcomb. Offenders are producing 200 protection gowns and 200 masks per day. They are also working on producing 650 12-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer. The Department of Correction plans to do the same thing at Wabash Valley Correctional Facility to make even more protective equipment.

COVID-19: DEMOGRAPHICS REVEALED - The public is finally getting a little more information about the patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Indiana (WTHR-TV). The Indiana State Department of Health has released information about the age and gender of those patients. On Friday, the total count for COVID-19 cases stood at 981. Of those cases, 52 percent are women, and the age group with the largest percentage of cases is people between 50 and 59, at 18 percent. 0-19: 1.8 percent; 20-29: 11.3 percent; 30-39: 15 percent; 40-49: 15.6 percent; 50-59: 18 percent; 60-69: 17.6 percent; 70-79: 12.5 percent; 80+: 8.3 percent.

AUTOS: GM RECALLS 1,000 KOKOMO WORKERS TO MAKE VENTILATORS - General Motors announced Friday it is bringing an estimated 1,000 workers back to its Kokomo plant to begin making ventilators, and could start shipping them out as soon as next month (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). GM said it will deploy the workers to scale production of critical-care ventilators immediately. Working with the United Auto Workers, GM has brought back employees from its Kokomo and Marion facilities, according to a release. GM closed its General Motors Components Holdings plant in Kokomo last Friday in response to the pandemic. Across all manufacturers, there is a global backorder of ventilators capable of supporting patients fighting COVID-19. Experts have said hundreds of thousands of new machines could be needed over the course of the pandemic. The United States currently has between 160,000 and 200,000 ventilators.

NATIONAL GUARD: HELPING WITH FOODBANK LOGISTICS - This weekend the Indiana National Guard is helping foodbanks prepare boxes for drive-thru pickups. “We stand ready to support our community in every way necessary during emergency responses like this,” said Brig. Gen. Dale Lyles, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic (WIBC). On Friday, Guardsmen helped distribute boxes of food to over 300 households to help get food delivered to communities that need it. Schools are also stepping up to help during the pandemic. Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation Health Services said they have donated 1,800 pairs of surgical gloves, and the Mt. Vernon High School Science Department donated 24 protective goggles to Hancock Health.

SPORTS: NCAA WEIGHS MORE ELIGIBILITY - The NCAA Division I Council is scheduled to vote Monday on whether to allow another year of eligibility for spring sport athletes such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players, who had their seasons wiped out by the coronavirus pandemic (AP). Providing similar relief to winter sport athletes, such as basketball and hockey players and wrestlers, will also be considered. According to a memo recently sent to college sports administrators from the NCAA, there does not appear to be support for that. “(W)inter sports had either concluded their regular season competition or substantially concluded their regular season competition,” said the memo, a portion of which was obtained by The Associated Press.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP SAYS HE WON'T COMPLY WITH RESCUE PACKAGE OVERSIGHT - President Donald Trump said on Friday that he will not adhere to a portion of the $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill that would authorize an inspector general to oversee how $500 billion in business loans will be spent. In a statement released early Friday evening, Trump announced that he had signed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act, a relief package aimed at mitigating some of the economic fallout caused by efforts to allay the spread of Covid-19 (Vox). That bill also establishes a Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) within the Treasury Department to audit and investigate half a trillion dollars in loans for large businesses. In his signing statement, Trump said that this provision raises “constitutional concerns,” adding that his administration would not comply with such an official’s request for documents. “I do not understand, and my Administration will not treat, this provision as permitting the SIGPR to issue reports to the Congress without the presidential supervision required by the Take Care Clause,” part of Article II Section 3 of the Constitution that states a sitting president “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” This seems to suggest the administration believes it is the president’s duty and not that of an inspector general to ensure the funds are distributed as the law intends.

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP LASHES OUT AT GM - President Donald Trump attacked General Motors, alleging that the company promised to build thousands more breathing machines than it can deliver for coronavirus patients and that it wants too money for them (AP). Trump threatened to use the Defense Production Act to force ventilator manufacturing. He also wrote that GM should reopen its factory in Lordstown, Ohio, or another facility to build ventilators. "General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!  FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!  @GeneralMotors  @Ford." His tweets came after Trump in a television interview cast doubt on medical experts and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who have said they need thousands more ventilators than they have to handle the coronavirus.

WHITE HOUSE: DR. ADAMS CALLS INDY 'EMERGING HOTSPOT' - U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams named Indianapolis as an "emerging hotspot" in a Twitter post (WRTV). "We must now focus on flattening the curve and raising the bar in e123merging hotspots like New Orleans, Chicago, Detroit, LA, Miami, and Indianapolis," Adams wrote.

KENTUCKY: GOVERNORS IN FRANTIC SEARCH FOR SUPPLIES - The search for life-saving medical gear needed to battle the coronavirus pandemic is pitting state against state — and even against the rest of the world (Louisville Courier-Journal). Frustrated governors across the Midwest and around the U.S. are duking it out in a worldwide bidding war for face masks and other safety gear that doctors and nurses desperately need to battle COVID-19, which has already killed more than 1,000 Americans and infected more than 90,000 others. But the increasingly expensive supplies they’re desperately searching for keep selling out before they can get them — or are costing them exorbitant amounts when they can find them. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear recently said his state had a line on some protective equipment when the Federal Emergency Management Agency “came out and bought it all out from under us.” “I am willing to pay whatever it takes to protect the people of Kentucky to the maximum extent that we can,” he said. The problem is, everyone else is willing to do the same. Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker called the struggle to obtain personal protective equipment, or PPE, a “Wild West” that’s forcing his state to overpay for the gear it’s able to secure.


FRANKLIN: 7 MORE TEST POSITIVE AT NURSING HOME - 13 Investigates has confirmed that seven more residents of the Otterbein Senior Life nursing home in Franklin have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total number of infected residents to 15. A nurse and contracted therapist who work at the nursing home also have confirmed cases of coronavirus. “Currently of the 15 total [resident] positives, one went home, six are now isolated in our special unit established yesterday and today with help from Johnson County [...] and eight remain in the hospital. We expect two of those back tomorrow,” Otterbein spokesman Gary Horning told 13 Investigates Saturday night in a text message. An additional 12 residents showing coronavirus symptoms tested negative, he said, adding that three more residents began exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms today.

VEVAY: 6 DIE IN HOUSE FIRE - The Indiana Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating an early morning house fire Saturday in rural Switzerland County that killed six people (WTHR-TV). One man was able to get out. Autopsies on the six victims, who have not been identified, are planned for Sunday in Madison. The fire started around 3 a.m. at the two story hour on Lewis Drive in Vevay. It was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived. Once the fire was out, the victims were found inside. The Switzerland County Coroner’s Office is working to determine the identities of all six victims. The Indiana Fire Marshal’s Office is working to determine what caused the fire. Foul play is not suspected at this time.

DELPHI: TV SHOW TO SPOTLIGHT MURDERS - A national television program that examines true-crime cases is putting its spotlight on the unsolved 2017 killings of two teenage girls who were slain after they went hiking on a northern Indiana recreational trail (AP). Investigation Discovery will air an episode of “In Pursuit with John Walsh,” on April 1 about the February 2017 killings of 14-year-old Liberty German and 13-year-old Abigail Williams, The Indianapolis Star reported. Walsh and his son, Callahan Walsh, will ask “In Pursuit” viewers to call into the show with anonymous tips and leads. A news release from the channel said those tips “will be vetted by the appropriate authorities to help bring a killer to justice.” German and Williams went hiking on Feb. 13, 2017, and visited the Monon High Bridge — an abandoned railroad bridge near their hometown of Delphi, about 60 miles (95 kilometers) northwest of Indianapolis.

BLOOMINGTON: DRIVE THRU VIRUS TESTING COMING - Indiana University Health officials plan to have a drive-thru site to test for the coronavirus operational in Bloomington this week (Rollins, Bloomington Herald-Times). Brian Shockney, president of the IU Health South Central Region, said during a joint news conference with city, county and other health officials on Friday that as more individuals, health care workers and patients need testing, IU Health officials are planning to have a drive-thru site at their Landmark Avenue location in Bloomington up and running this week. Shockney said IU Health will be providing screening for all health care workers, police and firefighters in this region. He added those individuals can go through IU Health’s virtual hub, which would screen them and if deemed appropriate then direct them to the drive-thru testing site coming on Landmark Avenue.

BLOOMINGTON: FUNDS OK'd TO HELP BUSINESSES - City officials are one step closer in securing food and beverage tax money to provide some relief for local businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic (Bloomington Herald-Times). The Monroe County Food and Beverage Tax Advisory Commission on Friday approved a request from the Bloomington City Council to spend up to $2 million of the city’s share of food and beverage tax revenue to support food and beverage establishments and other businesses that promote tourism within Bloomington. Philippa Guthrie, corporation counsel for Bloomington, said the city council still needs to pass an appropriation ordinance allocating the funds before officials can access the money to spend it. Guthrie said officials are still coming up with a process for distributing the funds.

CARMEL: BRAINARD REOPENS GOLF COURSES - Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said that golf courses will reopen after they were previously closed due to COVID-19 (WTHR-TV). “Fresh air and recreation are even more important to us at this time of social distancing, but viewing social media posts where our social distancing restrictions were clearly being violated made it clear yesterday that action must be taken. I spent several hours discussing new guidelines and recommendations that would better ensure a healthier environment for play. I am pleased that we were able to find a way to allow golf courses to open with several adjustments. If we see further violations, we will revisit the closings again,” said Brainard.

LAKE COUNTY: VIRUS TESTS UNAVAILABLE TO TEST 7 INMATES - The Lake County Jail has seven inmates medically isolated for flu-like symptoms as the sheriff’s department works to get COVID-19 tests, officials said (NWI Times). As of Friday, coronavirus test kits have not been available to the Lake County Jail and no inmates or staff have been tested, said Pam Jones, spokeswoman for the Lake County Sheriff’s Department. “We are currently making attempts to acquire COVID-19 test kits for sheriff’s department personnel and inmates to help ensure the early detection of this potentially deadly disease and prevent its spread,” said Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. “We are taking several measures to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. We have issued hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes and masks to corrections officers and medical staff. Over the past few days, organizations in the community have donated some masks.”

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY: NON-VIOLENT INMATES RELEASED - Local jails have begun to release nonviolent offenders to reduce inmate populations as cases of the coronavirus continue to grow, while some law enforcement agencies are limiting arrests to reduce the flow of new inmates (South Bend Tribune). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, inmates eating, working and sleeping in the same environment makes it difficult for those in jail to practice social distancing, “heightening the potential for COVID-19 to spread once introduced.” County jails are especially at risk since they handle large numbers of inmates. And because jails require several people to be in close spaces together, advocates warn about the high risk of a coronavirus spread among inmates. There have been no confirmed coronavirus cases in St. Joseph, Elkhart or LaPorte County jails yet, though two St. Joseph County jail officers were quarantined and tested for the virus. One officer tested negative, while the other officer’s test results are pending as of Friday afternoon, according to a spokesman for the county.