INDIANA SETTING COVID RECORDS: Indiana shatters its one-day record with 1,832 new #coronavirus cases on Friday, and again on Saturday with 1,945, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. There were 21 deaths on Saturday (Howey Politics Indiana). Six percent of Friday's batch of tests came back positive; for 1st-time patients, the rate is 14.9%, highest since May 6. The 7-day average, which runs a week behind, holds at 5.1%, bur rises to 9.3% for 1st-timers. The percentage of ICU beds available statewide is at its lowest (30.3%) since the state started reporting that number in early April. The available percentage of ventilators is still strong, at 78.8%...but it hasn't been lower than that since late April.


HOLCOMB ISN'T CONSIDERING REINSTATING RESTRICTIONS: Despite worsening coronavirus numbers in Indiana’s northern and southwestern border counties, which are helping to drive statewide numbers in the wrong direction, Gov. Eric Holcomb isn’t considering reinstating restrictions he lifted two weeks ago, he said during a visit here Friday (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). While noting he doesn’t make long-term predictions “based on a virus that is uber-infectious and easy to spread,” for now he’ll continue urging Hoosiers to wear masks and hope they comply. “We need to make sure that we keep our economy up and running and do it safely, and we’ll continue to get that word out,” Holcomb said as he took questions from reporters outside The Armory, where he’d just addressed South Bend Regional Chamber members on a range of business and economic issues. “But what I’m pleading and begging and asking Hoosiers all over the state is to do what works. Do what was working before when we were alarmed.” When Holcomb’s “Back on Track” moved the state to Stage 5 Sept. 26, ending nearly all of his restrictions, the state’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate was under 4%. By Wednesday it had increased to 5%. “I hope that color red reminds people, like a warning light in your car that you need to change something,” Holcomb told reporters. “It could be the oil in your car but this is change your actions and your behavior when you’re out and about, so that if it’s a wedding or a funeral or another venue, that as trusting as you are, it’s better to be safe than sorry. I suspect there may be some more stringent measures that come out of that meeting for the local community that wouldn’t impact Fulton County. I’m going to continue to support and work with and collaborate with local communities and regions.”


DEMOCRATS CALL FOR RENEWING RESTRICTIONS: The Democratic gubernatorial candidate and top Democratic state lawmakers are calling for Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb to impose more restrictions on the state as COVID-19 cases surge (Erdody, IBJ). Earlier this week, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Dr. Woody Myers said the data has shown that moving to Stage 5 was the wrong move. “We need to reverse that step, and we need to protect Hoosiers,” Myers said during a virtual press conference on Wednesday. “We’re moving in the wrong direction.” Myers reiterated that position on Friday afternoon, after the state reported an all-time high number of daily positive COVID-19 cases. “Continuing with Stage 5 of the reopening plan puts Hoosiers on a similar road as the Trump Administration, which only drives Hoosiers to tragic and cruel outcomes, risking our lives,” Myers said in a statement on Friday. Indiana Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane also wants the governor to reverse course. In a statement on Friday, Lanane said he thinks Holcomb is ignoring the data he once used to make decisions. “The governor has said that a positivity rate above 5 percent in a county should be a cause for alarm. Yet, when the entire state’s positivity rate climbs above that same threshold, it’s business as usual for the Holcomb administration?” Indiana House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta of Fort Wayne, in a statement, said now is not the time to ease restrictions. “Unlike before, we’re not only seeing an increase in cases, but we’re also seeing an increase in apathy toward this pandemic,” GiaQuinta said. “Because the governor has decided now is the time to loosen restrictions, he is communicating to Hoosiers that it is okay to let our guards down.”


MAYOR WINNECKE IMPOSES NEW RESTRICTIONS: After consulting with local and state health officials, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke announced that a more restrictive measure has been put in place for social gatherings in the city (Martin, Evansville Courier & Press). Currently, any event with more than 500 people must be approved by the local health department. Beginning Oct. 19, that number is reduced to 125, Winnecke said in a news conference Friday morning. "Here’s what that means: effective one week from Monday, Oct. 19, organizers of any social or civic gathering where the number of individuals in attendance is reasonably expected to be greater than 125 people, organizers will be required to submit a written plan to Vanderburgh County Health Department 10 days prior to the event," he said.


NEW RESTRICTIONS IN VIGO, ELKHART COUNTIES: Health officials are now urging people to double down on protective measures (Indiana Public Media). Western Indiana’s Vigo County Health Department issued a warning Friday discouraging large gatherings, noting that the county’s current COVID-19 cases are mostly linked to a recent apple festival and other outdoor events with a large attendance. In Elkhart County, where both of the area’s local hospitals are full, the local health department said on its Facebook page that “a major disturbing increase” in the number of coronavirus cases calls for renewed vigilance around mask-wearing and physical distancing.


LaPORTE COUNTY REPORTS 'ALARMING SPIKE' IN COVID: A La Porte County official is urging residents to stay on guard due to an “alarming spike” in COVID-19 cases in the area at the onset of flu season (LaPorte Herald-Dispatch). “We are seeing an alarming spike in positivity rates not only in La Porte County but across Northwest Indiana,” La Porte County Board of Commissioners president Sheila Matias said Thursday. “As we head into flu season, I urge residents of La Porte County to be ever vigilant and to keep their guard up in this fight against an invisible but destructive virus.


DOCTORS DECLARE TRUMP CAN RETURN TO CAMPAIGN: The White House doctor said Saturday night that President Donald Trump was no longer at risk of transmitting the coronavirus but did not say explicitly whether Trump had tested negative for it. The diagnosis came as the president prepared to resume campaign rallies and other activities (AP). In a memo released by the White House, Navy Cmdr. Dr. Sean Conley said Trump met the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria for safely discontinuing isolation and that by “currently recognized standards” he was no longer considered a transmission risk (AP). The memo did not declare Trump had tested negative for the virus. But sensitive lab tests — like the PCR test cited in the doctor’s statements — detect virus in swab samples taken from the nose and throat. Dr. William Morice, who oversees laboratories at the Mayo Clinic, said earlier this week that using the PCR tests, the president’s medical team could hypothetically measure and track the amount of virus in samples over time and watch the viral load go down. Some medical experts had been skeptical that Trump could be declared free of the risk of transmitting the virus so early in the course of his illness. Just 10 days since an initial diagnosis of infection, there was no way to know for certain that someone was no longer contagious, they said.


PENCES REQUEST ABSENTEE BALLOTS: IndyStar has learned that Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, in September requested absentee ballots from the Marion County clerk's office. A senior Pence administration official told IndyStar that the Pences had intended to vote in person with those ballots Friday before he abruptly canceled a trip to Indianapolis. His office did not provide a reason for the trip's cancelation, but another senior Pence aide told IndyStar on Thursday the matter was a simple scheduling issue. The vice president was in Salt Lake City on Wednesday for the vice presidential debate and campaigned Thursday for President Trump's reelection at rallies in Nevada and Arizona. He flew back to Washington, D.C., Thursday evening and had intended to fly into Indianapolis Friday to vote, and head back to Washington, D.C., Friday evening. He is heading to Florida on Saturday, Ohio on Monday and Wisconsin on Tuesday.


14% HAVE ALREADY VOTED IN PENCE HOME COUNTY: A record number of Bartholomew County voters turned out during the first week of early in-person voting for the Nov. 3 presidential election, shattering the previous record set in 2016 (East, Columbus Republic). A total of 3,066 voters cast ballots this week at the former Carson’s store at FairOaks Mall, including 848 on Friday, said Bartholomew County Clerk Jay Phelps. Additionally, a total of 4,370 voters had cast absentee-by-mail ballots as of Friday, raising the total overall number of votes cast so far to 7,437 — with 25 days left to go before Election Day. In other words, roughly 14% of registered voters in the county have already cast their ballots for the 2020 election based on the number of voters registered as of Monday.


RECORD HIGH DEATHS OF LAKE MICHIGAN: Lake Michigan broke a grim record in September — a new high in reported drowning deaths. The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, an Illinois-based nonprofit that records drowning statistics, reports 53 confirmed drownings since the beginning of the year, breaking its previous record of 49, set in 2012 (Gonzalez, NWI Times). The nonprofit’s executive director, Dave Benjamin, calls 2020 Lake Michigan’s “deadliest” year on record. Seven of those drownings occurred in Northwest Indiana, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources reported. Benjamin said many of those deaths could have been preventable. “It is a huge problem. It's a public health issue, and it's a neglected public health issue,” Benjamin said.


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: The record new of COVID cases over the past week are extremely troubling, coming before the cold winter weather and flu season sets in. As was the case in April and May, a swamping of the state's medical systems again appears to be a real possibility. Local leaders are beginning to impose restrictions. This could become the paramount closing issue in the governor's race, though Woody Myers looks ill-equipped financially to make his challenge to Gov. Holcomb realistic. - Brian A. Howey



DEMS SEE CHANCE TO PICK UP AG'S OFFICE: Indiana Democrats are targeting the state attorney general’s race as their best chance to break the stranglehold Republicans have over state government (Davies, AP). Democrats spent months castigating current Republican Attorney General Curtis Hill over allegations that he drunkenly groped a state lawmaker and three other women, only to see former U.S. Rep. Todd Rokita narrowly defeat Hill for the GOP nomination in July. Democratic candidate Jonathan Weinzapfel, a former Evansville mayor, says he wants to tone down partisanship in the office of state government’s top lawyer. Rokita counters as an unabashed President Donald Trump supporter with an aggressive law-and-order and anti-abortion agenda that will continue Hill’s tactics of joining Republican lawsuits against what they regard as federal overreach, such as the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” Weinzapfel said he saw no difference between Rokita and Hill over what he called “gross politicization of the office.”


TESHKA LOOKS TO FLIP HD7: In one of the few Indiana House seats that appear to be up for grabs in this year’s election, incumbent State Rep. Ross Deal, D-Mishawaka, hopes to fight off Republican challenger Jake Teshka and stop the GOP from adding the seat to its legislative supermajority (South Bend Tribune). Democrats have held state House District 7 for at least 40 years. But in 2018, Deal’s predecessor, Joe Taylor, faced a close election in which he beat Republican Troy Dillon by just more than 700 votes, of the nearly 22,000 that were cast. With Deal facing his first general election for the seat, he admits Republicans see him as “vulnerable,” and Indiana political commentator Brian Howey earlier this year named the district one of just a handful of “tossup” races in the state. Republicans hold a 67-33 majority in the House, which means they have the two-thirds quorum that would allow them to conduct business without any Democrats present.


HACKETT CALLS WALORSKI ‘ENTRENCHED’: Incumbent Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski is up against a familiar face as she seeks a fifth term in the Nov. 3 election (Parrott, South Bend Tribune). In 2018, South Bend attorney Pat Hackett sought the Democratic nomination for Indiana’s 2nd District U.S. House seat, losing to retired heath care information executive Mel Hall. She ran again in this year’s primary, soundly defeating another South Bend attorney, Ellen Marks. “I really believe in the theme of the (2018) campaign, dignity and justice for all, not just the few,” Hackett said. “I found that that resonated with the people in the district and I was encouraged to run again. As I’ve watched what has happened in our country and the role that Jackie Walorski has played in all of that, I felt very compelled to run again.” “You need a long runway when you take on an incumbent like Jackie Walorski, who is entrenched,” Hackett said. “She is an incumbent who is kept in office literally by outside financial interests. She’s been able to hold the seat because of it, without appropriate accountability. She’s someone who hasn’t had a town hall since 2013 and she hasn’t had to do that because it’s a purchased seat.”


Presidential 2020


BIDEN UP 12% IN ABC/WP POLL: With little more than three weeks remaining until Election Day, President Trump is in a race against the clock as he continues to trail former vice president Joe Biden by double digits, his standing driven down by distrust on the issue of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. Biden is favored by 54 percent of likely voters, with Trump favored by 42 percent. Libertarian Party nominee Jo Jorgensen receives 2 percent support, and Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins is at 1 percent. Biden’s lead among registered voters is also 12 points, consistent with Post-ABC polls taken in recent months.


TRUMP ADDRESS 2,000 FROM WHITE HOUSE BALCONY: Donald Trump’s first public speech since his return from hospital after being diagnosed with the coronavirus saw no social distancing of attendees as the White House remains at the centre of a Covid-19 outbreak (Independent). While many watching him wore masks, it is unclear whether Mr Trump is still contagious, and questions remain about his health and the timeline of his infection. The White House has refused to declare that he is no longer capable of infecting others. Addressing the 2,000-strong crowd on Saturday from the Blue Room balcony of the White House, overlooking the South Lawn, Mr Trump appeared wearing a mask and removed it to speak."I’m feeling great,” Mr Trump told the enthusiastic crowd, before repeating his claim that the virus is going away, despite more than 50,000 new cases a day and a projected 235,000 deaths by the end of this month. Mr Trump spoke for 18 minutes at the rally, which was billed as a “peaceful protest for law and order” — aides had said his speech would be half an hour long.


TRUMP WANTED TO RETURN WITH SUPERMAN SHIRT: President Donald Trump, who contracted the coronavirus earlier this month, floated an idea to surprise observers by ripping open his button-down shirt to reveal a Superman t-shirt underneath, according to a New York Times report published Saturday (Business Insider). Trump made several calls during his stay at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last week, in which he proposed the idea of first appearing physically weak to observers, people familiar with the matter reportedly said. Upon leaving the hospital, he would rip open his dress shirt to reveal a shirt with the famous Superman logo, according to The Times.



BIDEN CAMPAIGNS IN PA: With the backdrop of a union facility in a key battleground county of Pennsylvania, Joe Biden on Saturday blistered President Donald Trump as only pretending to care about the working-class voters who helped flip the Rust Belt to the Republican column four years ago (AP). “Anyone who actually does an honest day’s work sees him and his promises for what they are,” Biden told a masked, socially distanced crowd at a training facility for plumbers and other tradespeople. The Democratic challenger has hammered Trump on the economy in recent weeks, from sweeping indictments of how the president has downplayed the novel coronavirus and its economic fallout to a withering personal contrast between Biden’s middle-class upbringing with that of the multimillionaire's son and self-proclaimed billionaire.


PENCE SCHEDULE: Vice President Mike Pence will host a 'Make America Great Again!' event in Grand Rapids, Michigan on Wednesday, October 14th at 12:30 PM EDT (Howey Politics Indiana). President Trump and Vice President Pence have stood by the people of Michigan by delivering the Great American Comeback, defending our law enforcement officers, and protecting the sanctity of life.


Sunday Talk


KUDLOW SAYS SENATE GOP WILL ACCEPT RELIEF PACKAGE: President Trump’s economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Sunday that Senate Republicans will “go along with” the $1.8 trillion White House stimulus proposal despite their vocal pushback. Kudlow told CNN’s “State of the Union” that the White House expects GOP support from Republicans in the upper chamber. A source told The Hill on Saturday that several senators expressed “significant concerns” about the proposal's cost in a call with administration officials. The White House economic adviser said on Sunday he does not think the coronavirus stimulus bill is “dead.” “Don’t forget, Republicans in the Senate put up their own bill a few weeks ago and got 53 votes, I think it was, so they united,” he said.  “I think if an agreement can be reached, they will go along with it.”


GATES SAYS TRUMP'S TREATMENT PROMISING: Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates said Sunday that the monoclonal antibodies treatment President Trump received for his coronavirus infection is not a “cure,” but is the most promising option thus far. "The word 'cure' is inappropriate because it won't work for everyone,” Gates said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “But of all the therapeutics, this is the most promising." Gates added that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has “been working with companies doing antibodies, we reserved factory capacity back in the spring, and now we’re partnered with Eli Lilly, who with Regeneron, has been the fastest to get these antibodies ready.”


COONS SAYS BARRETT IS 'DISQUALIFIED': Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in an interview on Sunday called Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s positions “disqualifying.” “I’m going to be laying out the ways in which Judge Barrett’s views, her views on reaching back and reconsidering and overturning long-settled precedent are not just extreme they’re disqualifying,” Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to Barrett's confirmation hearings, which are scheduled to begin this week. “She has views that make her not qualified,” Coons continued, noting that “President Trump has said he would only nominate someone who would overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA), taking away health care protections for 100 million Americans” amid the coronavirus pandemic.


DURBIN ACCUSES GOP OF 'COURT PACKING': Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) on Sunday addressed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden declining to say whether he would expand the Supreme Court if elected, saying Republicans have bragged about "packing the court" under President Trump. “The American people have watched the Republicans packing the court for the past three and a half years, and they brag about it,” Durbin said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “We are dealing with people on the court, packing into the court, with little or no qualifications for a long time.”


CRUZ SEES WIDE RANGE OF ELECTION OUTCOMES: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is clarifying comments he made on Friday, saying he does not necessarily believe a Democratic blowout is inevitable next month, but the range of possible outcomes is wider than it has been in years. "The delta between possible outcomes is as wide as I've ever seen it,” the Texas senator said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, adding he believes that the 2020 election could result in either Democrats or Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress. “I believe President Trump can win ... and Republicans can take both the House and Congress. But I also think it is possible we see a Democratic sweep,” Cruz said.


MOORE CASTS DOUBT ON NEED FOR STIMULUS: Stephen Moore, an economist and adviser to President Trump, said he doesn’t think the country needs a $2.2 trillion stimulus package to help the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, predicting that growth would happen naturally. “The economy really is showing signs of picking up. I don’t care what the newspapers say,” he said Sunday on John Catsimatidis’s radio show on WABC 770. “I see really strong numbers coming in for the third quarter… 30 percent to 35 percent growth, which shatters the all-time record for growth in one quarter.”




SENATE GOP, HOUSE DEMS BALK AT TRUMP RELIEF PACKAGE: Both Senate Republicans and House Democrats signaled opposition to the Trump administration’s $1.8 trillion offer for coronavirus relief aid, again clouding the prospects for an agreement before Election Day (Wall Street Journal). During a conference call Saturday morning with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, several Senate Republicans said they were opposed to passing another large aid package, according to people familiar with the call. Mr. Meadows said he would bring their concerns back to President Trump, suggesting he expected a less than warm reception by joking that as a result the lawmakers would have to attend his funeral, according to the people. The pushback from Senate Republicans comes after the White House increased its offer on Friday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in the on-again, off-again effort to reach an agreement on a fifth aid package before the election. The new bid calls for more than $1.8 trillion in spending, with about $400 billion of the funds reallocated from unspent money from earlier legislation, bringing the total cost to about $1.5 trillion, according to a person familiar with the offer.




ISDH: SATURDAY COVID STATS: The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 1,945 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at the state laboratory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and private laboratories. That brings to 133,411 the total number of Indiana residents known to have the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 3,555 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 21 from the previous day. Another 227 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, 1,474,639 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,463,436 on Friday. A total of 2,306,562 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.


ISDH: FRIDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health today announced that 1,832 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 131,493 the total number of Indiana residents known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. A total of 3,534 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of 19 from the previous day. Another 227 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, 1,463,436 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 1,451,391 on Thursday. A total of 2,276,846 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.


JUDICIARY: CHARGES FILED AGAINST FORMER HAMILTON COUNTY MAGISTRATE -  The Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has filed disciplinary charges against former Hamilton Superior Court Magistrate William Paul Greenaway (Howey Politics Indiana). The Commission alleges two counts of misconduct related to criminal activity in his personal life when he was employed as a judicial officer. Mr. Greenaway has 20 days to file an answer to the charges. The 14-page "Notice of the Institution of Formal Proceedings and Statement of Charges" (Case No. 19S-JD-165) is public record and has been filed with the Appellate Clerk’s Office. The charges are brought by the 7-member Commission which investigates alleged ethical misconduct by judges.




SCOTUS: BARRETT WORKED 2000 FLA RECOUNT - Amy Coney Barrett was just three years out of law school, a 28-year-old associate at a boutique Washington law firm, when she was dispatched to Florida to help George W. Bush’s legal team rescue thousands of Republican absentee ballots (Washington Post). The litigation was a sidebar to the central drama of the 2000 presidential contest, but a loss in the case could have cost Bush the presidency. At issue were thousands of absentee ballot request forms in Martin County — just north of Palm Beach County, home of the notorious “butterfly ballot” — that had missing voter registration information.


SPORTS: COVID CLOSES TITAN, PATRIOT FACILITIES - The Tennessee Titans and the New England Patriots had new positive test results for the novel coronavirus and their facilities were closed again Sunday morning, forcing the NFL into further adjustments of its schedule (Washington Post). The league announced that Monday evening’s game between the Patriots and Denver Broncos in Foxborough, Mass., was being postponed. That game already had been pushed back from Sunday. The NFL did not immediately specify when the game will be played. But it was mulling rescheduling that game for next Sunday, which would necessitate further changes to the Broncos’ schedule. They are, for now, scheduled to face the Miami Dolphins next Sunday in Denver. The NFL already has given preliminary consideration to adding a Week 18 to the 17-week regular season to accommodate games needing to be rescheduled, multiple people familiar with the deliberations have said. Sunday’s developments potentially could intensify that consideration.




INDIANAPOLIS: CIB PUMMELED BY PANDEMIC - The owner of the Indiana Convention Center and Indianapolis sports facilities is bracing for a challenging 2021, as tourism struggles to mount a recovery from six months—so far—of the pandemic’s grip (Shuey, IBJ). The budget for the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, approved in September by the City-County Council, calls for $132.3 million in spending next year, including more than $30 million in debt payments. A $41.6 million deficit is projected. The CIB expects to draw only about two-thirds of its revenue from operational fees and various tourism-related tax streams. It will pay the rest of its bills by dipping into its reserve, which totaled $145 million on June 30. This will be the second straight year the CIB has had to use reserve funds to make ends meet.


ADAMS COUNTY: COVID FORCES SCHOOLS TO E-LEARNING - Two students in the Adams Central Community Schools district tested positive for COVID-19 on Thursday which prompted the district to move students to E-learning (WPTA-TV). That forced more than 80 students to quarantine.


HUNTINGTON COUNTY: VIRTUALLY TRUENT STUDENTS WARNED - Huntington school administrators concerned about truancy say they're cracking down on students who are falling behind in their virtual classes (WPTA-TV). The director of curriculum is concerned that 150 of the district's 816 students who are learning remotely are falling behind. "Based on their attendance, based on their engagement that we have not seen, we feel it's in their best educational interest to come back on campus," Jay Peters said. Having already contacted parents electronically, school principals will now hand-deliver letters to the homes of those 150 virtual students who are falling far behind, asking them to return to the classroom.