INDIANA COVID CASES EXPLODE TO 8,451 ON SATURDAY: The Indiana Department of Health announced on Saturday that 8,451 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories (Howey Politics Indiana). That brings to 244,887 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 4,638 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 25 from the previous day. Another 250 probable deaths have been reported based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. Deaths are reported based on when data are received by the state and occurred over multiple days. The seven-day positivity rate is 10.9%. There were 2,634 hospitalizations in the state on Friday. Nine counties are now in red. The number of ICU beds available has declined to 23.5%, while 75.3% of ventilators are available. To date, 1,917,951 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,893,070 on Friday. A total of 3,482,745 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

 

COVID SWAMPING INDIANA HOSPITALS: At Franciscan Health’s Indianapolis hospital, the number of people being treated for COVID-19 shot up this week to about 40, double the number from just a month ago (Russell, IBJ). At Reid Health in Richmond, the surge of COVID-19 patients has gotten so severe that doctors have stopped accepting referrals from nearby hospitals and have started looking for ways to discharge other patients earlier than normal. And at Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, officials are wondering if COVID-19 patients could soon fill many of the hospital’s 396 beds. “We might get 20 patients today, 20 tomorrow, and 20 more the day after that,” said Dr. Vishal Bhatia, the hospital’s chief medical officer. “And if they keep on increasing, what do we do? There is a finite point to everything.” Across Indiana, the number of COVID-19 hospitalizations has been shattering records day after day, putting a strain on many hospitals and adding to the anxiety about how much longer the pandemic will continue.

 

HOLCOMB ORDER REQUIRES BUSINESS MASK POSTINGS: All Indiana businesses are expected to display signage alerting employees and customers that masks are required to be worn, according to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s new pandemic-related executive order that goes into effect Sunday (Erdody, IBJ). The latest order, which Holcomb signed Friday, requires all businesses to place “clearly visible signage at their public and employee entrances notifying that face coverings are required for all individuals entering the business.” Businesses are also required to re-evaluate any existing COVID-19 response plan and “update it to reflect current business practices and safeguards,” the order says. In May, Holcomb initially ordered businesses to create COVID-19 action plans, which were expected to include an employee screening process, cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and the availability of hand sanitizer or hand-washing supplies. Businesses are also encouraged to suspend any sick leave policy that requires a doctor’s note.

 

KLAIN SAYS LOCAL GOVERNMENTS WILL NEED TO 'STEP UP': Ron Klain, chief of staff to President-elect Joe Biden, said Americans as well as state and local governments need to “step up” on the coronavirus between now and Inauguration Day. “It’s a very grave situation,” Klain said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Back in September, then-candidate Joe Biden warned that America was headed to a very dark winter if the administration didn’t step up its action.” “The very first day of his transition, on Monday of this week, the president-elect met with his COVID task force and they made a public statement afterwards where he called on all Americans to mask up, he urged governors to impose masking mandates now and reiterated that when he becomes president he will impose one on a nationwide basis,” he added. “He’s not the president right now, there’s not that much that Joe Biden can do right now to change things, other than to reiterate the message … that all Americans and our state and local governments need to step up right now.”

 

VIGO COUNTY RESERVES 4 REFRIDGERATOR TRUCKS FOR MORGUE: The health department in Vigo County is reserving 4 refrigerated trucks to hold deceased victims of the coronavirus. Last month, 181 county residents died—that’s nearly a 45 percent increase from the same month a year ago (Turner, Indiana Public Media). While the move is mentioned in their emergency preparedness plan, county health educator Roni Elder admits she can’t recall the last time such decisions were made. "Realistically, if we keep up with this, then we will actually have to implement and use those refrigerated trucks," Elder said. Vigo County’s positivity rate is currently at 12 percent after being near five percent in early October.

 

SCHMUHL PASSES ON INDEM CHAIR: Mike Schmuhl is passing on the soon-to-be open Indiana Democrat chair position (Howey Politics Indiana). Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg's former campaign manager said in a statement, “Since I moved back home to Indiana in 2009 to work for Joe Donnelly, electing Hoosier Democrats has been at the heart of my career, and it culminated in the historic 2020 Pete for America campaign. While I won't be a candidate for chair of the state Democratic Party next year, I will do everything I can to help our Indiana party to gain strength and secure victories in the years ahead.” Current Chairman John Zody said he will not seek a third term after the party did not winning a single statewide race since 2013 and has been unable to dent Republican super majorities in the Indiana House and Senate.

 

TRUMP BRIEFLY ACKNOWLEDGES BIDEN 'WON': President Trump appeared to briefly acknowledge for the first time Sunday morning that former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had defeated him in the presidential election, but quickly reversed himself less than two hours later, insisting that “I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go” (New York Times). The dueling tweets came as Mr. Trump continued to lie about the conduct of the vote-counting process, falsely insisting that Mr. Biden’s victory was the result of a “Rigged” election orchestrated by the “Fake & Silent” media. His first tweet came Sunday morning at 7:47. Referring to Mr. Biden, the president said that “he won.” That represented the first time Mr. Trump had publicly said what his advisers have been telling him for days privately: His re-election bid failed and Mr. Biden will be inaugurated on Jan. 20. After a flurry of tweets and news reports about his “concession,” Mr. Trump insisted that he had been misunderstood. At 9:16, he insisted falsely: “RIGGED ELECTION. WE WILL WIN!” And three minutes later, he wrote that Mr. Biden “only won in the eyes of the FAKE NEWS MEDIA. I concede NOTHING! We have a long way to go. This was a RIGGED ELECTION!”

 

KELLY SAYS BIDEN SHOULD BE GETTING INTEL BRIEFINGS: President-elect Joe Biden should start receiving intelligence briefings, and the delay in allowing the transition to officially get started is damaging U.S. national security, President Donald Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly told POLITICO in an exclusive interview (Politico). “You lose a lot if the transition is delayed because the new people are not allowed to get their head in the game,” Kelly said Friday. “The president, with all due respect, does not have to concede. But it’s about the nation. It hurts our national security because the people who should be getting [up to speed], it’s not a process where you go from zero to 1,000 miles per hour.” “Mr. Trump doesn’t have to concede if he doesn’t want to, I guess, until the full election process is complete. But there’s nothing wrong with starting the transition, starting to get people like the national security people, obviously the president and the vice president-elect, if they are in fact elected, to start getting them [up to speed] on the intelligence,” he said.

 

GOP LEADERS IN 4 STATES QUASH DUBIOUS TRUMP BID ON ELECTORS: Republican leaders in four critical states won by President-elect Joe Biden say they won’t participate in a legally dubious scheme to flip their state’s electors to vote for President Donald Trump. Their comments effectively shut down a half-baked plot some Republicans floated as a last chance to keep Trump in the White House (AP). State GOP lawmakers in Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have all said they would not intervene in the selection of electors, who ultimately cast the votes that secure a candidate’s victory. Such a move would violate state law and a vote of the people, several noted. “I do not see, short of finding some type of fraud — which I haven’t heard of anything — I don’t see us in any serious way addressing a change in electors,” said Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s Republican House speaker, who says he’s been inundated with emails pleading for the legislature to intervene. “They are mandated by statute to choose according to the vote of the people.” In Michigan, legislative leaders say any intervention would be against state law. Even though the GOP-controlled legislature is investigating the election, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey told radio station WJR on Friday, “It is not the expectation that our analysis will result in any change in the outcome.”

 

MILLIONS OF JOBLESS AMERICANS FACT BENEFIT CUT: Two key programs Congress passed this year to expand and enhance unemployment insurance expire on Jan.1, leaving millions of people without benefits unless lawmakers can break a monthslong deadlock over a fresh round of pandemic relief (Wall Street Journal). That raises the risks that families of jobless workers will miss payments on mortgage or auto loans, face foreclosure or eviction and fall into poverty, economists warn—just as a rising tide of coronavirus infections threatens to undercut the economic recovery. Unemployed workers in most states get 26 weeks of benefits, plus additional weeks when the economy is poor. Congress in March provided an additional 13 weeks of benefits. It also expanded eligibility to include people who ordinarily wouldn’t qualify for benefits, such as freelancers, contract workers and people who were forced out of work by the pandemic—for example, because they contracted the disease or had to care for a sick family member. As of Oct. 24, the latest week for which data are available, more than 13 million people were enrolled in one of the two programs.

 

TRUMP'S LOSS COMPLICATES PENCE'S FUTURE: For Mike Pence, a second term for President Donald Trump would have been a 2024 ticket to Republican frontrunner status (AP). But with Trump’s loss—after Pence spent the last four years as his most loyal soldier and the past year doggedly campaigning on his behalf—the vice president is contending with a far less certain future. The situation is made even more complicated by Trump’s refusal to accept defeat and private flirtations with running again himself four years from now. It’s a balancing act for Pence. He cannot risk alienating supporters of the president who want to see Trump—and by extension the vice president —keep on fighting. But Pence also risks damaging his own brand if he aligns himself too closely with claims of voter fraud that aren’t proven. “Pence is trying to navigate between the land mines of a president who insists on total fealty and protecting his options for his own political future,” said Dan Eberhart, a prominent Republican donor and Trump backer. “Any Republican who is thinking about running for office in the next four years is definitely looking at that and trying to figure out which way the political winds are going to blow,” Eberhart said.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Saturday's daily COVID stats are, once again, truly shocking, cresting the 8,000 mark for the first time. With this type of community spread, and masking remaining as a political wedge issue, those numbers can be expected to quickly double, particularly after the Thanksgiving holiday, creating an unprecedented hospital capacity issue. - Brian A. Howey

 

Presidential 2020

 

BIDEN CARRIES GEORGIA: Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump in Georgia in one of the closest results of the 2020 election, flipping a rapidly changing state that has been a solid piece of the Republican electoral map for decades (Politico). Biden took a lead of more than 14,000 votes out of nearly 5 million cast as mail and provisional ballots were tallied in the state, which is currently recounting its presidential votes to ensure the accuracy of the count. Bill Clinton was the last Democratic presidential candidate to win the state in 1992, and Trump extended the GOP winning streak in 2016, carrying the state and its 16 electoral votes by 5 percentage points.

 

TRUMP CARRIES NORTH CAROLINA: President Donald Trump has won the presidential battleground state of North Carolina over Democratic nominee Joe Biden (AP). Trump campaigned aggressively in North Carolina with in-person rallies at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, including gatherings in Fayetteville, Winston-Salem and Greenville. Biden had largely kept off the physical campaign trail and did not personally visit the state in the last 16 days of the election. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper fared much better than Biden, winning his race against Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on election night Nov. 3 by more than 4 percentage points. By Friday afternoon, there were not enough outstanding ballots remaining to be counted that would allow Biden to overtake Trump’s lead of 73,697 votes, or 1.3 percentage points.

 

VIOLENCE ERUPTS AT DC MAGA RALLY: President Trump called on cops to 'do your job' as he blasted counter protesters who turned up at the Million MAGA March as 'Antifa scum' as he joked that they 'ran for this hills' after violent scenes erupted in Washington D.C. on Saturday night (Daily Mail). The president claimed 'Antifa' had waited until the end of the march to attack 'elderly people and families' as he praised his supporters who 'aggressively fought back'. 'Antifa SCUM ran for the hills today when they tried attacking the people at the Trump Rally, because those people aggressively fought back,' he tweeted. Trump was referencing a mass brawl that broke out at about 8pm just five blocks from the White House as counter protesters clashed with a group of Proud Boys and Trump supporters. The ugly scenes lasted for several minutes as the two groups wielded batons and pushed and shoved each other until cops intervened.



Sunday Talk

 

OBAMA HITS TRUMP ON REFUSING TO CONCEDE: Former President Obama hit President Trump for claiming without evidence there was widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and called it "disappointing" that Republicans have supported the claims. "When Donald Trump won, I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning and I then called Donald Trump to congratulate him. His margin of victory over Hillary Clinton wasn't greater than Joe Biden's margin over him," Obama told Gayle King in an interview set to air in full on "CBS Sunday Morning." "But if you are listening to some of the talk radio that Trump voters are listening to, if you're watching Fox News, if you're getting these tweets, those allegations are presented as facts. So you've got millions of people out there who think, 'Oh yeah, there must be cheating because the president said so,' " he added.

 

FAUCI SAYS THERE WON'T BE NATIONAL LOCKDOWN: As coronavirus cases continue to set records for the number of daily infectious and hospitalizations across the U.S., Anthony Fauci said on Sunday that Americans should not expect a national lockdown and instead anticipate “surgical-type” local restrictions. During an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union," Fauci said, “We’re not going to get a national lockdown, I think that’s very clear. But I think what we’re going to start seeing in the local levels, be they governors or mayors or people at the local level, will do as you said, very surgical-type of restrictions, which are the functional equivalent of a local lockdown.”

 

MURTHY SEES 'PERFECT SET UP' FOR COVID: Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory panel, warned on Sunday that colder temperatures would be “the perfect setup for the virus.” Calling the current coronavirus caseloads “staggering numbers that we never really thought we would see,” Murthy said on “Fox News Sunday” that the problem largely traced back to the handling of the initial outbreaks in the spring. “We never got our caseload down to a level that was truly manageable in the spring and we didn’t actually have the testing and contact traces to prevent subsequent rises in infection,” he said.

 

JOHNSON SAYS TRUMP TRANSITION REFUSAL 'A DISSERVICE': Former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said on Sunday that the Trump administration’s refusal to aid in a transition to a Biden presidency is a disservice to Americans as well as national security, stating that a new administration cannot begin without any information. "A new government cannot start on January 20 from a standing-still position. This is what transitions are for. Intelligence briefings, [presidential daily briefings], when you're in office, in national security are your eyes and ears,” said Johnson while appearing on ABC’s "This Week.” “It's a disservice to the American public, it's a disservice to our national security to make the incoming government wait until January 20 to actually begin to get up to speed on a myriad of issues.”

 

BOLTON CALLS ON GOP LEADERS TO EXPLAIN TRUMP LOSS: Former national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday that Republican leaders need to explain to voters that President Trump has lost the election, even though the president has yet to concede. Appearing on ABC’s "This Week," Bolton was asked by host Martha Raddatz what could be done to convince Trump voters that President-elect Joe Biden had won the election legitimately and fairly. “I think it's very important for leaders in the Republican Party to explain to our voters, who are not as stupid as the Democrats think, that, in fact, Trump has lost the election and that his claims of election fraud are baseless,” said Bolton. “The fact is that we've seen litigation in all the key battleground states, and it has failed consistently," he added. "Right now the Trump campaign is doing the legal equivalent of pinching pennies.”

 

General Assembly

 

LUCAS DENIES HE WAS SUBJECT OF CAUCUS REBUKE: State Rep. Jim Lucas told Howey Politics Indiana that he is not facing sanctions for past social media postings. "My name never came up," Lucas said. Asked what was discussed during Tuesday's House Republican caucus, Lucas said, "I don't divulge caucus information."

 

LAWMAKERS REACT TO LACK OF MASK MANDATE: Lawmakers will not be required to wear masks at the ceremonial start of the session next week and possibly for all of the upcoming session which starts in January. This comes as COVID-19 continues to ravage through the state of Indiana (Hackler, WLFI-TV). "Let me be perfectly clear, I am a republican senator that absolutely believes in the wearing of masks and also social distancing," said state Senator Ron Alting who represents the 22nd district of Indiana. However, many of senator Alting's Republican colleagues do not feel the same. The Republican-dominated joint House-Senate committee voted Thursday against a proposal from a Democratic lawmaker for rules enforcing a facemask policy. "I did suspect that there would be some push back. I've seen a lot of legislators that have been very combative when it comes to the mandates that the governor has put forth," said State Representative Chris Campbell who represents district 26. While masks will not be required, lawmakers say there will be other COVID-19 safety protocols in place. "The gallery which is up above the chambers is usually where citizens sit in, we will be moving senators up in the gallery to make sure that we have social distancing on the floor,” added Senator Alting. “There will be nobody sitting next to each other."

 

INDYGO FACES LEGISLATOR WRATH: IndyGo is likely to be in the hot seat again when the Legislature convenes in January because the transit system has raised just 1% or so of the private funding called for by a state law that helped fund a major expansion of the system (Orr, IBJ). The Indianapolis Public Transportation Foundation has banked $70,527 since receiving not-for-profit status in June 2019. But under the law passed in 2014, it’s supposed to be raising at least $6 million in private donations per year. And while IndyGo officials call the law—and the associated fundraising requirement—unrealistic, at least some lawmakers are unlikely to let the issue go during the 2021 session. The result could be a cut in the tax revenue that helps fund the system.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB SIGNS NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS – Gov. Eric J. Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-48 Friday to implement pandemic requirements for all Hoosiers and targeted restrictions for counties that have high levels of COVID-19. Local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines (Howey Politics Indiana). “We must do all we can to protect our hospital capacity, so our health care professionals can protect and care for patients,” Gov. Holcomb said. “Not only for those who have COVID, but for the cancer patient, the heart patient, and the other Hoosier patients who need care in our urban, rural, and suburban hospitals all across the state of Indiana.” The Indiana Department of Health has established a color-coded county map that measures weekly cases per 100,000 residents and the seven-day positivity rate for all tests completed. Each county is assigned a color based on the average of scores for the two metrics. Restrictions are assigned based on the map, which is updated each Wednesday at www.coronavirus.in.gov.

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB ENCOURAGES RECYCLING - As declared by Governor Eric Holcomb, Nov. 15 is ‘America Recycles Day’ in Indiana (WANE-TV). In his proclamation, the Governor said it is a “nationally recognized day for businesses, government agencies and individuals to consider the importance of recycling and to commit to reducing waste making recycling an everyday habit and buying recycled products.” This day is a partnership with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. A few examples of recyclable items include paper, cardboard and glass. The state’s recycling rate has grown, as in 2015 the rate was 12% and in 2019 it jumped to 19%.

 

JUDICIARY: SOUTHERN DISTRICT COURT TRIALS SUSPENDED - Federal jury trials have been suspended through at least late January in Indiana’s Southern District as coronavirus cases continue to surge across the state (AP). An order sent Friday by Chief Judge Jane E. Magnus-Stinson suspends all in-person jury trials in all divisions of the U.S. District Court Southern District of Indiana until at least Jan. 25. All court-officiated naturalization ceremonies have also been cancelled until at least that date. The court’s order came the same day that Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new executive order reinstating limits on crowd sizes for nearly every Indiana county starting Sunday, in response to weeks of sharp increases in Indiana’s COVID-19 hospitalizations and new infections.

 

SPORTS: IU BLANKS MSU - Michael Penix Jr. threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 10 Indiana (4-0) remained unbeaten with an easy 24-0 victory over Michigan State (AP). Penix threw two interceptions in the first half, but that didn’t hurt much. The Spartans were just as sloppy — to the point where quarterback Rocky Lombardi was pulled in the second quarter.  Ty Fryfogle had 11 catches for 200 yards and a pair of TDs for Indiana. He did most of that in the first two quarters, when all the game’s scoring occurred.

 

SPORTS: NW DEFEATS PURDUE - Peyton Ramsey threw for 212 yards and three touchdowns, all to Ramaud Chiaokhiao-Bowman, and No. 23 Northwestern beat Purdue 27-20 in a cold and rainy Ross-Ade Stadium Saturday night (AP). After Purdue rallied to within a touchdown on Aiden O'Connell's touchdown pass to Milton Wright midway through the fourth quarter, the Wildcats defense also came up with two late stops to preserve their fifth straight Big Ten win and their first 4-0 start in league play since 1996.

 

SPORTS: NOTRE DAME ROLLS PAST BC - Ian Book passed for three touchdowns and ran for another as No. 2 Notre Dame overcame an early deficit to roll to a 45-31 victory over Boston College Saturday (AP). The Fighting Irish’s eighth straight win in the series between the FBS’s only Catholic institutions gave Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly his 100th career victory at the school, tying him with Lou Holtz for second all-time. Kelly is now just five wins behind legendary coach Knute Rockne.

 

SPORTS: PAUL HORUNG DIES - Notre Dame Heisman Trophy winner Paul Hornung died Friday at his home in Louisville, Ky., after a long battle with dementia. He was 84 (South Bend Tribune). The Louisville Sports Commission reported Hornung’s death Friday afternoon. He is survived by his wife of 41 years, Angela Hornung. Hornung, a two-time All-American for the Irish, could do just about everything on the football field. He played quarterback, running back, kicker and defensive back for Notre Dame. He could run, pass, block, cover, tackle and kick. Hornung also enjoyed a 10-year NFL career as a running back for the Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1985 and Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: COURT INVALIDATES TRUMP DACA ROLLBACK - A federal judge in New York invalidated Trump administration rules narrowing the program that protects immigrants living in the U.S. since childhood without legal permission, ruling the restrictions were improperly issued (Wall Street Journal). The ruling Saturday restores the program, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, to near-full operation, after multiple attempts by the Trump administration to end or curtail it. That means, for the first time since September 2017, new applicants who weren’t previously eligible, typically because they were too young, may now apply.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP DECLARES SOUTH BEND 'UNSUCCESSFUL CITY' - On Sunday morning President Donald Trump tweeted that South Bend is “Indiana’s most unsuccessful city” (WSBT-TV). Trump was criticizing former South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg as well as Fox News for having him "on more than Republicans." Trump wrote, "This is why @FoxNews daytime and weekend daytime have lost their ratings. They are abysmal having @alfredenewman1 (Mayor Pete of Indiana’s most unsuccessful city, by far!) on more than Republicans. Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!" Buttigieg has made several appearances on the right-leaning news channel over the past few weeks.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TOUTS PROGRESS ON VACCINE - President Donald Trump is touting the fast progress in getting a vaccine available to counter the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 240,000 people in the United States. No vaccine has been formally approved, but Trump said one could be available to the general public as soon as April (AP). Trump on Friday called U.S. work on the vaccine the “single greatest mobilization in U.S. history” in pioneering and developing vaccines and therapies in record time -- five times faster than the 8 to 12 years it normally takes.

 

WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP PUSHES CONGRESS ON STIMULUS - President Donald Trump started the weekend by pushing lawmakers in Congress to approve a coronavirus relief bill (Nexstar). What’s unclear about his request: Does the president still back the idea of stimulus checks? “Congress must now do a Covid Relief Bill,” Trump tweeted. “Needs Democrats support. Make it big and focused. Get it done!” The tweet tosses out two terms that have largely been contradictory during the negotiation process. By saying he wants a “big” bill, one might presume that would include a second round of $1,200 direct payments. Prior to the election, the White House and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed any approved package would include stimulus checks.

 

Local

 

INDIANAPOLIS: ATTORNEYS DISGUSTED BY NO CHARGES IN REED CASE - Attorneys for the family of a 21-year-old Black man who was shot and killed in May by an Indianapolis police officer blasted the investigation on Saturday, saying a more thorough one could have led the grand jury to return a criminal indictment against the officer (Indiana Public Media). The lawyers for Dreasjon Reed’s family maintain that at least 10 eyewitnesses saw Officer Dejoure Mercer shoot Reed with his stun gun and then repeatedly with his firearm while Reed lay writhing on the ground. Contrary to findings of a State Police investigation, those witnesses maintain that Reed didn’t fire on the officer, the lawyers said. “Their testimony was consistent — Dreasjon was tased, he fell, he was shot while still shaking on the ground. He did not shoot back,” attorney Fatima Johnson said during an online news conference Saturday. She said she was “beyond disgusted” that Mercer won’t face charges — at one point repeating the word “again” 13 times to represent how many times Mercer fired at Reed.

 

GARY: MAYOR PRINCE INVOKES RESTRICTIONS - Gary Mayor Jerome Prince has invoked new restrictions for the COVID-19 pandemic (Howey Politics Indiana). "The seven-day moving average for Gary, a key index of the spread of the virus, has been 39 cases per day," Prince said on Friday. "Our ?rst priority is to protect our residents and our visitors, and our numbers of new COVID-19 cases have been very disturbing. From the very beginning, we’ve known the COVID-19 pandemic would be unpredictable. We have to remain vigilant and do what’s necessary to protect our community." Prince, announcing new pandemic restrictions on Friday, that include limiting gatherings to 50 people, bars and nightclubs at 50% capacity, retail shops and restaurants at 75%, and sporting event capacity at 25%.

 

GARY: DEMOLITION SPREE DOWNTOWN — The Gary Housing Authority has been tearing down 14 largely vacant buildings in downtown Gary in a demolition spree that's clearing away the crumbling remnants of the city's glory days (Pete, NWI Times). The agency is razing many structures between the 500 and 700 blocks of Broadway downtown, where people once flocked to grand department stores that have largely faded into memory. Many of the buildings targeted for demolition along the three-block stretch in Gary's once-thriving commercial heart were deemed beyond repair with collapsed roofs, rotting interiors and smashed windows. Some were boarded up, covered in graffiti and falling apart. The hope is that clearing away the blight will help spark a renaissance. "It opens up a wealth of opportunities for the city of Gary," Gary Chamber of Commerce President Chuck Hughes said. "There is an enthusiasm about the future of Gary."

 

HIGHLAND: COURT UPHOLDS PROTECTIVE ORDER FOR DEM ACTIVIST - A municipal Democratic Party leader was within her rights to obtain an order of protection against a Highland man and onetime Indiana House candidate who committed repeated acts of harassment, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday (Carden, NWI Times). In a 3-0 decision, the state appellate court rejected Brandon Dothager's attempt to rescind the protection order issued earlier this year by Lake Superior Magistrate Cheryl Williamson. According to court records, the party leader feared for her safety and suffered great emotional distress and anxiety after Dothager continually tried to bully and harass her into resigning as Democratic chairwoman, including sending threatening text messages and putting materials in her home mailbox. Dothager also lunged at the woman during a verbal altercation at a Jan. 24, 2019 party meeting, an action that prompted a local police detective to remove Dothager from the meeting due to his aggressive behavior, court records show.

 

LOGANSPORT: MAYOR MARTIN IMPOSES COVID RESTRICTIONS - Approximately 29 new positive COVID-19 cases were added to the Indiana State Department of Health’s overall count of 2,645 Cass County cases on Thursday (Logansport Pharos-Tribune). The increase caused Mayor Chris Martin to participate in a statewide conference call between the state’s mayors and Gov. Eric Holcomb. As a result of that discussion, it was decided that Indiana would be adding new restrictions. Those would be based upon each county’s category, according to the mayor. Starting Sunday, Nov. 15, Cass County, which has dropped back to the “orange color category” will face those new requirements, he said. This means attendance at winter indoor events at area schools will be capped at 25% of capacity. Capacity in the common areas and break rooms will be reduced from that percentage.

 

HOWARD COUNTY: 370 COVID CASES IN A WEEK - Howard County reported 67 new cases on Friday, bringing its COVID case total to 2,316 - an increase of 370 cases in just the past seven days (Kokomo Tribune).

 

LaPORTE COUNTY: NEW COVID RESTRICTIONS - With coronavirus cases, deaths and hospitalizations skyrocketing in La Porte County, officials on Friday announced a new series of restrictions to stem the spread of the virus (LaPorte County Herald-Dispatch). The new measures, which affect the entire county, including Michigan City and LaPorte, were set after consultation between mayors, county health officials and the county’s legislative delegation. They include a mask mandate, limits on gatherings, and new restrictions – including midnight closures for bars and restaurants – on businesses. LaPorte County Health Officer Dr. Sandra Deausy’s order – which goes into effect Monday – addresses what she called “an alarming spike in cases, deaths and hospitalizations in the past few days.”

 

PORTER COUNTY: LOCAL HOSPITALS STRAINED — Facing the climbing cases of coronavirus locally and statewide, Porter County officials are urging residents to stay diligent as the holiday season approaches (Ortiz, NWI Times). The Porter County Health Department said the red classification means that a community has a high-level spread rate among its members. Officials warned that local hospitals are being strained due to the increase. Friday night, Northwest Health - Porter was on total bypass, meaning that the facility was at capacity and could not accept new patients.

 

PORTER COUNTY: EAST PORTER SCHOOLS GOING VIRTUAL - The East Porter County School Corp. announced in an email Friday to remote learning families it is forgoing its e-learning option for most students in its six schools for the second semester (NWI Times). Only students with medical conditions themselves, or family members in the same household, that put them in the at-risk category for COVID-19 infections may apply to stay on e-learning, the email from Superintendent Aaron Case states.

 

ELKHART COUNTY: COUNCIL VOTES TO CONSOLIDATE COURTHOUSES - The Elkhart County Council has voted to consolidate the two courthouse locations in downtown Goshen and Elkhart. The new location will be in Goshen at County Road 17 and U.S. 33 (WSBT-TV). The decision took more than four hours. Five council members voted in favor of the consolidated courthouse and two abstained from voting. A letter today from the City of Elkhart says both cities are disappointed about the decision, but are hopeful about the future. The City of Elkhart's communications director says consolidating the courthouses has been a discussion for over 20 years. She says the county has been working on this plan for more than 18 months but allegedly, both mayors weren't made aware until August of this year.

 

BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: SHERIFF K9 KILLED DURING CHASE — A Bartholomew County Sheriff's K9 was killed while chasing a suspect in a domestic battery call Saturday evening (WRTV). K9 Diesel was chasing the suspect after a brief pursuit near County Roads 600 South 650 West and ran into the woods near Interstate 65, according to the sheriff's office. Diesel's handler stayed behind to watch the other two people in the car. Diesel was later found along the side of the interstate. At this time, the sheriff's office is still investigating to determine how K9 Diesel was killed.