6,844 NEW COVID CASES ON SUNDAY: The Indiana Department of Health Sunday announced that 6,844 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state and private laboratories. That brings to 251,597 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard (Howey Politics Indiana). ICU bed availability stands at 25.5%. A total of 4,660 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 22 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. To date, 1,938,289 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,917,951 on Saturday. A total of 3,536,082 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.


HEALTH WORKERS SENSE IMPENDING DOOM: Health care workers are overworked, over-stressed and burned out — all as cases and hospitalizations keep climbing and climbing (Axios). "The wave hasn't even crashed down on us yet. It keeps rising and rising, and we're all running on fear. "The health-care system in Iowa is going to collapse, no question," Eli Perencevich, an infectious disease doctor at the University of Iowa, told The Atlantic. "People in leadership are starting to say things in meetings like, 'I have a sense of impending doom,'" Gregory Schmidt, associate chief medical officer at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, told ProPublica's Caroline Chen.


DOCTORS CALLING IT QUITS: Thousands of medical practices have closed during the pandemic, according to a July survey of 3,500 doctors by the Physicians Foundation, a nonprofit group (New York Times). About 8 percent of the doctors reported closing their offices in recent months, which the foundation estimated could equal some 16,000 practices. Another 4 percent said they planned to shutter within the next year. Other doctors and nurses are retiring early or leaving their jobs. Some worry about their own health because of age or a medical condition that puts them at high risk. Others stopped practicing during the worst of the outbreaks and don’t have the energy to start again. Some simply need a break from the toll that the pandemic has taken among their ranks and their patients.


MODERNA VACCINE 95% EFFECTIVE: For the second time this month, there’s promising news from a COVID-19 vaccine candidate: Moderna said Monday its shots provide strong protection, a dash of hope against the grim backdrop of coronavirus surges in the U.S. and around the world (AP). Moderna said its vaccine appears to be 94.5% effective, according to preliminary data from the company’s still ongoing study. A week ago, competitor Pfizer Inc. announced its own COVID-19 vaccine appeared similarly effective — news that puts both companies on track to seek permission within weeks for emergency use in the U.S. Dr. Stephen Hoge, Moderna’s president, welcomed the “really important milestone” but said having similar results from two different companies is what’s most reassuring.


BIDEN SEEKS VACCINE DATA AS TRUMP STALLS TRANSITION: Joe Biden's scientific advisers will meet with vaccine makers in coming days as the presidential transition remains stalled because of President Donald Trump's refusal to acknowledge he lost the election. That delayed handoff is especially problematic during a public health crisis, the government's top infectious disease expert said (AP). “Of course it would be better if we could start working with them,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who has been through multiple presidential transitions during 36 years of government service. He likened the process to runners passing on the baton in a relay race. “You don't want to stop and then give it to somebody,” he said. “You want to just essentially keep going.” “We're going to start those consultations this week,” said Biden's chief of staff, Ron Klain, citing Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies.


AU'S PISTOLE SAYS TRUMP TRANSITION DELAY COULD CAUSE PROBLEMS: The delay in transition between President Donald J. Trump’s administration and that of President-Elect Joe Biden could lead to problems with national security, said former Deputy FBI Director John S. Pistole (Bibbs, Anderson Herald Bulletin). But Pistole, who now is president of Anderson University, said he believes Trump’s post-election replacements of leadership at the Pentagon is unlikely to result in a coup even though the president also has been defiant about conceding his defeat at the polls on Nov. 3. “Every day that goes by that the smooth transition does not take place puts us at greater risk,” he said. “The key is for the incoming administration to be briefed on the latest most relevant national security intelligence. It’s so the incoming admin is poised on their first day that they can make informed timely decisions.” Pistole, who previously at times delivered the daily briefing to the president, said the sensitive compartmentalized information that should be submitted to Biden during the transition includes sources and methods of intelligence, strengths and weaknesses in relationships between the nation and its allies and enemies, and collection opportunities. “Then it becomes a question of are there some gaps that might be missed. That’s the last thing we need is for something to be missed and not acted upon during what typically is a vulnerable time for the nation,” he said.


KLAIN SEES COVID RELIEF BILL AS BIPARTISAN OPENING ACT: President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming chief of staff Ron Klain said on Sunday that passing a COVID-19 relief bill could be the first bipartisan action made after the election as the Biden team continues to wait for access government officials and resources to begin the formal transition process (The Hill). “There's a lot of things that are going to have to wait until Joe Biden is president, but this is not one of them.” Klain said when asked about the potential for a new congressional COVID-19 relief bill. “This is a national crisis. It needs bipartisan national action now.” Months of stalled negotiations between Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and members of Trump's administration have failed to come to any agreement for fresh round of COVID-19 related relief for Americans. Klain offered praise of Pelosi, insisting the incoming administration would “have her back.” “What I want her to hear is that we have her back in handling this. But we have the backs of the American people,” Klain said on NBC's “Meet the Press.” "I mean, Chuck, it's not that she hasn't been at the table. She's been at the table. We just now see the administration -- current administration -- has walked away from the table.


TRUMP REFUSAL TO CONCEDE ENTERS DANGEROUS PHASE: President Trump’s refusal to concede the election has entered a more dangerous phase as he stokes resistance and unrest among his supporters and spreads falsehoods aimed at undermining the integrity of the American voting system (New York Times). More than a week after President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. was declared the winner, Mr. Trump continues to block his successor’s transition, withholding intelligence briefings, critical information about the coronavirus pandemic and access to the vast machinery of government that Mr. Biden will soon oversee. Some former top advisers to Mr. Trump have said that his refusal to cooperate is reckless and unwise. John F. Kelly, Mr. Trump’s former chief of staff, called it “crazy” on Friday. John R. Bolton, the president’s former national security adviser who wrote a scathing memoir about his time in the administration, said the refusal “harms the country.” “Every day that he delays under the pretense that he’s simply asking for his legal remedies ultimately is to the country’s disadvantage,” Mr. Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week” program on Sunday morning.


INDIANA LAUNCHES NEW OPIOID PROGRAM: Indiana has launched a new program that provides medical professionals with information about how many opioid prescriptions they write compared with their peers. The hope is to eventually reduce the number of opioid prescriptions, members of the Indiana Commission to Combat Drug Abuse were told Thursday during a virtual meeting (Richardson, Statehouse File). “Our administration has not sat by and watched the side effects of COVID-19,” said Douglas Huntsinger, executive director for drug prevention. “If anything COVID-19 has us working harder than ever, and in more collaborative ways to help those with substance use disorder and mental health challenges.” To prevent possible opioid addiction, the state launched a program called prescriber report cards to lower Indiana’s prescription rate. Prescriber report cards provide doctors with an understanding of where they rank in terms of the number of opioid prescriptions in comparison to all other prescribers within a particular specialty. Research shows prescriber report cards are likely to result in decreased prescribing rates statewide. Although actions have been put in place to treat, educate and prevent addiction, the state is seeing substantial increases in overdoses in 2020, according to the Indiana Department of Health. Compared to January through June 2019, Indiana has seen a 25.6% increase in fatal overdoses in 2020. There has also been a 52.7% increase in emergency room visits due to an opioid overdose.


IU SET FOR FIRST TOP 10 MATCHUP IN HISTORY WITH OSU: No. 9 Indiana is set to play the first top-10 matchup in program history (AP). The IU/Ohio State game is set for noon Saturday in Columbus and will be televised on Fox.  Alabama is No. 1 for the second straight week, with 60 first-place votes. No. 2 Notre Dame received one first-place vote and No. 3 Ohio State got the other. The rest of the top eight was unchanged: Clemson is No. 4, followed by Texas A&M, Florida, Cincinnati and BYU. Indiana moved up one spot to ninth — the Hoosiers’ best ranking since they were fourth in the 1967 poll — heading into a matchup with Ohio State on Saturday.


BUTLER TO CUT GAME ATTENDANCE TO 25%: Butler University’s basketball program has received approval from Marion County health officials to provide game seating equal to 25% of Hinkle Fieldhouse’s capacity, beginning with the men’s home opener on Nov. 25 (IBJ). The fieldhouse on the Butler campus in the north side of Indianapolis seats about 9,100 people, so 25% of capacity would equal about 2,300 fans. The university announced the decision by the Marion County Department of Public Health early Sunday afternoon. Safety precautions will include a requirement to wear facial coverings, submitting to temperature checks and sitting according to distancing guidelines, the university said. As a result of the limited capacity, Butler will not offer season tickets for the 2020-21 season, according to Athletic Director Barry Collier. “Tickets will be made available in blocks, consisting of 2-4 games each, first to those who were season ticket holders last season or had already placed a deposit for this season,” according to Sunday’s announcement from Collier.


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: Dr. Aaron Carroll of Indiana University's School of Medicine tweeted Sunday: "Omg, Indiana. It’s either leaders stop playing chicken and make the hard calls now, or we’re going to overwhelm the healthcare system completely and be forced to make ever harder calls soon. Refusing to choose is a choice." - Brian A. Howey




WALKER ELECTED TO SD31: The Indiana Senate has a new member. A private Republican caucus chose Kyle Walker Sunday evening to replace Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis), who’s retiring after a 30-year career. Walker, a consultant and former head of the Marion County Republican Party, will serve out the remaining two years of Merritt’s term (Smith, Indiana Public Media). A native of Lawrence, Walker beat out four other candidates on the first round of balloting. He pledged to uphold Republican values – in his words, “limited government, free enterprise and fiscally conservative policies.” Walker becomes the 14th lawmaker to initially join the General Assembly via private caucus election in the last four years.


HUPFER CONGRATULATES WALKER: Indiana Republican Party State Chairman Kyle Hupfer issued this statement following the selection of former Marion County Republican chairman Kyle Walker to fill the open seat in Indiana SD31 vacated by State Sen. Jim Merritt (Howey Politics Indiana): "I'm excited to be the first to congratulate Kyle Walker on his election tonight as Indiana's newest member of our strong Republican team serving Hoosiers in the Indiana Senate. He's long been a strong leader in our our party and in the Lawrence community, and I know he'll be a strong leader in the Senate."

Sunday Talk


OSTERHOLM SEES DANGEROUS NEW PERIOD: A member of President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board warned that the U.S. was “in the most dangerous public health period since 1918,” the date of the Spanish flu pandemic. “Our job is to imagine what the world could be like if we do make the changes we need to make. We're going to be heading to a vaccine in the next few months, where we can start to imagine having summer baseball back, barbecues, et cetera,” Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But in the meantime, we are in a very dangerous period, the most dangerous public health period since 1918,” he added. “And if we don't basically take important steps like stop swapping air with our, our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues, we're going to see these numbers grow substantially.”


GIROIR SAYS TRUMP ISN'T NEEDED AT TASK FORCE: Admiral Brett Giroir, a physician who is part of the White House coronavirus task force, confirmed a report on Sunday that President Trump has not attended a meeting with the group in several months, but said he is "not concerned” about Trump’s absence. While appearing on ABC’s "This Week," Giroir was asked by host Martha Raddatz about The Washington Post's reporting that Trump has not attended a coronavirus task force meeting in at least five months. “That's true, but the vice president does chair the coronavirus task force,” replied Giroir. “We often have several Cabinet members there, and the vice president briefs the president every day, or nearly every day, on coronavirus, so I'm not concerned that the president doesn't attend.”


GOV. DeWINE ACKNOWLEDGES BIDEN WON: As President Trump continues to refuse to concede the election to President-elect Joe Biden, Republican governors and officials called on the Trump administration to begin the transition process. “It’s clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect and that transition, for the country’s sake, it’s important for a normal transition to start through,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “The president can go on his other track and his legal track. We should respect that, but we also need to begin that process.” However, DeWine also said the president’s legal challenges to the election should be allowed to play out. “I’d say this to both sides of this, and I was certainly a supporter of and remain a supporter of the president, but the president has every right to go into court, every right to bring any kind of evidence that he has, and no one should begrudge him that or say that there’s anything irregular about that,” DeWine said.


GOV. HUTCHINSON EXPECTS BIDEN TO BE NEXT PRESIDENT: Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) made similar comments on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, saying, “I expect Joe Biden to be the next president of the United States.” Hutchinson echoed DeWine in saying the Biden team should have access to public health and national security materials. “It is very important that Joe Biden have access to the intelligence briefings to make sure that he is prepared,” Hutchinson told NBC’s Chuck Todd. “During times of transition, our enemies have an opportunity to take advantage of us, and we want to make sure that there is a smooth transition, particularly when it comes to the vaccine distribution, the coronavirus, that everybody understands what we're doing there and what the plan is for the future.”


OSSOFF CREDITS BLACK VOTE: Democratic Georgia Senate candidate Jon Ossoff said on Sunday that the close race in the Peach State was due to the turnout of Black voters in this year’s election. “This was the closest Senate race in the country, Martha. And that really reflects the power of Black turnout here. The determination of Black voters in Georgia to make a change in this country,” Ossoff told Martha Raddatz on ABC’s “This Week.” “Georgia's Black community has been hit the hardest by COVID-19, Georgia's Black community is demanding access to affordable healthcare, demanding civil rights legislation, to secure criminal justice reform,” Ossoff said.


SANDERS MUM ON BIDEN CABINET: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday was noncommittal on whether he would accept an appointment within President-elect Joe Biden’s administration. “I talk to the Biden administration. I want to do my best in whatever capacity, as a senator or in the administration, to protect the working families of this country,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” Sanders earlier suggested he might be willing to serve as Labor secretary in a Biden administration. "If I had a portfolio that allowed me to stand up and fight for working families, would I do it? Yes, I would,” he said last week.




HOUSE PREVIEW: The House comes back into session Monday night. Monday: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley, will call for the Biden administration to pass H.R. 1, democracy reform legislation, as a top priority post-election (Axios). Wednesday: House leadership contests begin.


SENATE PREVIEW: The Senate is in session and will likely vote on the nomination of Judy Shelton to join the central bank’s board of governors on Tuesday or Wednesday.




WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP TO AIM NEW POLITICS AT CHINA - President Trump will enact a series of hardline policies during his final 10 weeks to cement his legacy on China, senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the plans tell Axios. He'll try to make it politically untenable for the Biden administration to change course as China acts aggressively from India to Hong Kong to Taiwan, and the pandemic triggers a second global wave of shutdowns. Watch for National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe to publicly describe in granular detail intelligence about China's nefarious actions inside the U.S.


WHITE HOUSE: TRUMP, BIDEN SCHEDULES - President Trump will have lunch with VP Mike Pence at 12:30 p.m. Pence will lead a governors video teleconference call at 2 p.m. in the White House Situation Room on Covid-19. The vice president will also travel to Dover, Del., to participate in a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base before returning to Washington.. President-elect Joe Biden: On Monday, Biden will deliver remarks in Wilmington, Delaware, on the economy.


MICHIGAN: WHITMER IMPOSES NEW RESTRICTIONS - Michigan health officials on Sunday announced a new set of restrictions as part of the state's efforts to control a new wave of coronavirus cases (The Hill). An order on the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) website limits bars and restaurants to outdoor dining, carryout and delivery. Casinos and movie theaters will be closed. Gyms are allowed to remain open, but group classes are prohibited. High schools and university must conduct all classes remotely, according to the order. Indoor gatherings in residences are limited to 10 people from two households, while outdoor gatherings are limited to 25 people as long as they can practice social distancing.




INDIANAPOLIS: NEW RESTRICTIONS BEGIN - New restrictions are now in place for Marion County as COVID-19 cases continue to surge (CBS4). Mayor Joe Hogsett and Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine announced the changes last week. Marion County reported more than 700 cases in a single day last week, and Caine expressed concerns that the county could hit 1,000 cases in a single day. The seven-day positivity rate sits at 12%. Like state health officials, Caine has attributed the rise in cases to social gatherings. The public health order that went into effect Monday includes a variety of changes affecting bars, entertainment venues, restaurants, gyms and social gatherings. Schools must go virtual no later than Nov. 30. Changes include: Entertainment venues, bars limited to 25% indoor capacity, with 100% capacity allowed outside; For restaurants, reduced capacity indoors at 50% and 100% allowed outdoors; Maximum party size reduced to 6 at bars


LAFAYETTE: JEFF HS MOVES TO REMOTE LEARNING - Lafayette School Corporation announced on Friday Jefferson High School will move to all remote instruction beginning Monday, November 16th, and continuing through the Thanksgiving break. LSC stated the switch was due to increased numbers of both students and staff being quarantined due to COVID-19 (WLFI-TV). Announcements about a return to in-person learning or continued eLearning after Thanksgiving Break will be made on Friday, November 27, 2020. All Jefferson extracurricular activities will be suspended from Monday, November 16 through Tuesday, November 24, 2020.


ST. JOHN: OFFICIALS SEEKING ROAD IMPACT FEE — Officials are laying the groundwork to be able to adopt a road impact fee for new commercial and residential development in town (Freda, NWI Times). During special meetings Monday, the St. John Plan Commission and Town Council separately approved amending the town's comprehensive plan to include a zone improvement plan. The addition of a zone improvement plan allows data on deficient roads and the need for future roads in town, based on projections, to be included in Town of St. John Comprehensive Plan, said Town Council Vice President Paul Panczuk.  Neither board has considered the road impact fee itself.


WINFIELD: TOWN TO DISCUSS 'DEMENTIA WANDERERS' — In the wake of a fourth person reported missing in town but later found safe, Town Council members discussed ways to address these potentially fatal elopements (Euvino, NWI Times). Addressing his fellow council members recently, Dave Anderson outlined the search last weekend that resulted in finding a 93-year-old man in a local wooded area. The man, described as having undiagnosed dementia, was found unharmed. “There were a lot of people looking for him,” said Anderson, citing several area police and fire units and a helicopter. The council member cited the need to better educate the public on dementia. Lakes of the Four Seasons Fire Chief Jeff Kish reported the man, discovered missing a Saturday, was found about 12 hours later on Sunday afternoon.


LaGRANGE COUNTY: SCHOOLS CLOSE DUE TO LACK OF PERSONNEL - Lakeland Superintendent Dr. Eva Merkel said her decision to stop in-person learning and move the school’s students to e-learning for at least the next two weeks came down to a simple matter of numbers (KPC News). The school simply can’t find enough administrators, teachers, cafeteria workers and bus drivers to effectively run a school district. COVID-19 quarantines are taking their toll on local education. Thanks to a combination of sicknesses, close contacts and child care issues, the school district said it ran out of options. Merkel said she was forced to close the primary school on Wednesday, sending young students home to continue their educations online.


ELKHART COUNTY: $80M PLAN TO COMBINE COURTHOUSES - Elkhart County will move ahead with a plan to close its courthouses in downtown Elkhart and Goshen, despite objections from the cities’ leaders, after the county council voted Saturday in favor of building a combined courthouse at the outskirts of town (South Bend Tribune). The county council voted to support the purchase of a property at Reith Boulevard and County Road 17, near the U.S. 33 commercial district between Elkhart and Goshen, to build a complex that could cost as much as $80 million. The council voted 5-0, with two members abstaining. Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson and Goshen Mayor Jeremy Stutsman both spoke against the consolidation plan during Saturday’s video-conference meeting, as did six other people. No one from the public spoke in favor. “The ask from our city is to allow us to be able to speak with our public, to get input from them,” Roberson said. “We’re asking you to delay for 90 days. Give us the opportunity to not make this dramatic change to our downtown.”