MORE THAN 7K CASES IN INDIANA SCHOOLS: Indiana schools continue to reach new heights in COVID-19 cases reported among the state's K-12 students — driven, in part, by an increase in the number of schools participating in the state-mandated reporting this week (Herron, IndyStar). This week's update of the state's dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases in students, teachers and other school staff members reported nearly 7,200 new cases. Most of those cases did occur in the last week, although more than 1,000 of those cases dated back to the previous week. Of the newly reported cases this week, 6,322 occurred in students, 338 were in teachers and 488 occurred among staff members. About 17 percent of coronavirus cases in Indiana right now are kids 19 years and younger (WSBT-TV). The past two weeks have seen more cases in the state's K-12 student population than any previous week since the dashboard launched last school year. Despite the sky-high number of new cases, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box reported two weeks ago that half of the state's roughly 2,400 schools were not participating in the dashboard this school year. While it was not mandatory last year, reporting to the state dashboard is required this year. As of Tuesday's update, delayed by the Labor Day holiday on Monday, more than 700 schools were still not participating.

 

THIRD OF ICU BEDS OCCUPIED BY COVID PATIENTS: The Indiana State Department of Health on Tuesday said statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are continuing to soar, hitting their highest mark since early January (IBJ). Hospitalizations rose from 2,443 on Thursday to 2,518 on Monday, the largest number since Jan. 10, when 2,537 people were hospitalized. Nearly a third (31.4%) of Indiana’s intensive care unit beds are occupied by COVID patients. The health department said 2,863 new cases of COVID-19 were reported to the state on Monday. However, the cumulative number of cases rose by 12,981 over Friday’s report. The department said no new deaths from the virus were reported on Monday. The cumulative total rose by 51 deaths over Friday’s report, to 14,172. More than 3.13 million Hoosiers had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Tuesday at 5 a.m. after a weekend increase of 16,770.

 

ICU BIDS DWINDLE IN FORT WAYNE: The Indiana Department of Health's District 3, which consists of Allen County and 11 other northeast counties, has the lowest percentage of available intensive care hospital beds in any of the state's 10 districts (Rodriguez, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The district has 9.4% of its 308 beds available, or about 30 beds, the state health department's online dashboard reported Monday. That's slightly under half the percentage of available beds statewide – 21.5% or 2,171 beds. Some hospital districts have fewer beds available but none has a smaller percentage. District 3 comprises Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Miami, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. Joy Lohse, Lutheran Health Network spokeswoman, said in an email all network hospitals were continuing to see patients “with high acuity conditions such as cardiac and stroke as well as COVID-19 admissions.” District 3 trails west-central Indiana's District 4, with 11.1% of 81 beds available, and District 9 in southeast Indiana, with 15.3% of 72 beds available. District 8 in south-central Indiana has the highest percentage of available beds, 41.9% of 117. District 3 has recovered somewhat from Aug. 27, when it was one of four cited by Dr. Kristina Box as close to or running out of available intensive care beds. At that time, state health officials predicted new cases would continue to rise until around Labor Day, with hospitalizations peaking about two weeks later.

 

INDIANA CITIZEN STRESSES RACIAL JUSTICE IN REDISTRICTING: Racial Justice Requires Fair Maps. That’s the message at the heart of a major redistricting education campaign from The Indiana Citizen to Black and brown communities, and others who may be marginalized, as state legislators decide soon where they will redraw congressional and legislative district lines based on the 2020 census (Howey Politics Indiana). “Redistricting could negatively impact some of the most vulnerable populations, silencing their voices for another decade,” says Bill Moreau, publisher of The Indiana Citizen, a nonpartisan, nonprofit civic education and engagement platform. “We’ve been writing about the secular, civic sin called racial gerrymandering all year because it’s the most insidious and effective voter suppression tool ever devised. “When those in power—both Democrats or Republicans—move lines around on a map to perpetuate their power, election outcomes are predetermined, and voters stay home.” Moreau states that Indiana has grossly gerrymandered maps which a new report commissioned by Women 4 Change stated are more biased toward one party than 95% of maps in other U.S. states. Those maps have a major effect on how the Indiana General Assembly prioritizes its policy agenda.

 

STAFF SHORTAGES CLOSE A DOZEN BMV OFFICES: Beginning Tuesday, almost a dozen Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices throughout the state will be closed until Oct. 2 due to staffing shortages. The affected offices are located in Alexandria, Danville, Evansville, Indianapolis (Madison Avenue), Greenfield, Nappanee, New Albany, New Haven, Pendleton, Schererville and Walkerton (Indiana Public Media). Staff at those offices are being reassigned because the agency has had trouble filling 60 to 80 positions. Adding to that, anywhere between 10 to 15 percent of the workforce is consistently out due to COVID-19 precautions. Chief Operating Officer Kevin Garvey said the BMV had to decide between temporarily closing a few offices and keeping wait times down, or keep all the offices open, but make Hoosiers wait through long lines. “I would rather make these small, temporary closures ... than to continue to stretch that rubber band and potentially negatively impact more Hoosiers,” he said.

 

BIDEN SAYS CLIMATE CHANGE IS 'EVERYBODY'S CRISIS': President Joe Biden declared climate change has become “everybody’s crisis” on Tuesday as he toured neighborhoods flooded by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, warning it’s time for America to get serious about the “code red” danger or face ever worse loss of life and property (AP). Biden spoke after walking streets in New Jersey and then Queens in New York City, meeting people whose homes were destroyed or severely damaged by flooding when Ida barreled through. The storm dumped record amounts of rain onto already saturated ground and was blamed for more than a dozen deaths in the city. The president said he thinks the damage everyone is seeing, from wildfires in the West to hurricane havoc in the South and Northeast, is turning climate-change skeptics into believers, but years of unheeded warnings from scientists, economists and others mean time for action is short. “The threat is here. It is not getting any better,” Biden said in New York. “The question is can it get worse. We can stop it from getting worse.”

 

BIDEN TO UNVEIL 6-PRONG PANDEMIC STRATEGY ON THURSDAY: President Joe Biden on Thursday will present a six-pronged strategy intended to fight the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus Delta variant and increase U.S. COVID-19 vaccinations, the White House said on Tuesday (Reuters). The United States, which leads the world in COVID-19 cases and deaths, is struggling to stem a wave of infections driven by the variant even as officials try to persuade Americans who have resisted vaccination to get the shots. Rising caseloads have raised concerns as children head back to school, while also rattling investors and upending company return-to-office plans. White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters traveling with Biden aboard Air Force One that he will lay out the strategy "working across the public and private sectors to help continue to get the pandemic under control." Asked about possible new mandates, Psaki said the White House would offer more details later about the plan and acknowledged that the federal government cannot broadly mandate that Americans get vaccinated.

 

ETHEL KENNEDY OPPOSES SIRHAN PAROLE: Ethel Kennedy, the widow of Robert F. Kennedy, said Tuesday that she is opposed to the release of Sirhan Sirhan, the man imprisoned and recently recommended for parole in the 1968 killing of her husband (Fox News). "Bobby believed we should work to 'tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of the world.' He wanted to end the war in Vietnam and bring people together to build a better, stronger country. More than anything, he wanted to be a good father and loving husband," Kennedy said in a typed statement.

 

CPL. SANCHEZ FUNERAL SEPT. 14 IN LOGANSPORT: A public funeral will be held Sept. 14 for the 22-year-old Marine from Logansport who was killed in Afghanistan (AP). U.S. Marine Cpl. Humberto Sanchez was one of 13 military service members killed inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, by a suicide bomber on Aug. 26. At least 170 Afghans also were killed. The funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Sept. 14 at LifeGate Church, 831 Burlington Ave. in Logansport. Burial with full military graveside rites will follow at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Logansport. Public visitation will occur 1-7 p.m. Monday at the church. Gundrum Funeral Home announced the arrangements Tuesday. Sanchez is scheduled to arrive at Grissom Air Reserve Base Sunday morning. There will be no ceremony upon his arrival in Logansport.

 

ALMANAC PREDICTS SEVERE WINTER: This winter may be the longest and coldest in years according to the Old Farmer's Almanac's weather prediction (IndyStar). The Almanac, which has been around for 230 years, says this winter will bring below average temperatures and lots of snow to parts of the country, including Indiana. According to its website, the Almanac is 80% accurate in its weather predictions. On the Almanac's prediction map, Indiana is split in half with "cold, dry" mostly in northern part of the state and "cold, snowy" in the south. Above-average snowfall and below average temperature will affect much of the Ohio River Valley, parts of the Northeast and southeast New Mexico.

 

HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: There are 700 schools that are failing to report their COVID infections among students, faculty and staff. Why is that? Are they violating state law? If so, this represents a breakdown in compliance and communication. In Thursday's weekly Howey Politics Indiana, we'll survey how the promises of summer 2021 ended with a thud this past Labor Day. Look for it around 9 a.m. Thursday. - Brian A. Howey

 

Campaigns

 

PENCE FUNDRAISER FOR YOUNG TONIGHT: Former Vice President Mike Pence is slated to host a fundraiser tonight for Indiana Sen. Todd Young. The event, which has so far raised $150,000, comes ahead of a weekend fundraiser that Pence is holding for Nebraska Rep. Don Bacon.

 

KEESLING LAUNCHES TREASURER CAMPAIGN: Fort Wayne City Clerk Lana Keesling announced Tuesday she is seeking the Republican nomination for Indiana State Treasurer in 2022 (Howey Politics Indiana). Keesling was elected City Clerk in 2015 and re-elected in 2019, proving herself an electable candidate in the state’s second-largest city. She was elected to turn around a city clerk’s office mired in scandal. Since taking office, she has turned the finances of the department around while standing up to intimidation efforts by Democratic city officials. Prior to her election as City Clerk, Lana Keesling was the Chief Financial Officer of a large company managing finance, information technology, and human resources. Prior to that, she was a small business owner for ten years. She holds a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) degree, making her the most qualified candidate in the race for Treasurer. "We don't need big government solutions to improve the lives of Hoosiers,” said Keesling. “We need qualified, conservative checks on politicians to do the work and connect people to opportunity.” Keesling is a graduate of the Richard G. Lugar Excellence in Public Service program. “Lana’s credentials for State Treasurer are impeccable,” said Allen County Republican Party Chairman Steve Shine. “She is a solid conservative Republican, who is a proven vote-getter, as indicated by her convincing wins in a major metropolitan area often thought to lean Democrat. She is loyal to our party and taxpayers.”

 

Congress

 

THE HOUSE and THE SENATE are out.

 

State

 

GOVERNOR: HOLCOMB LAUDS $19M FOR SCHOOL SAFETY - The Indiana Secured School Safety Board has approved more than $19 million in state grants, marking a third consecutive year the General Assembly has allocated funds for school safety investments (AP). The awards will allow the board to fund projects proposed by 392 schools in their applications to the Secured School Safety Grant program. The program issues matching grants for school resource officers and law enforcement officers in schools, active event warning systems, firearms training for teachers and staff, threat assessments and other safety technology and support services. Schools then match those funds at a certain level, based on average daily membership of the school district, the total amount of the project or what the request covers. “Hoosier students and staff should be able to go to school with the confidence and comfort of knowing they are safe and protected from harm. This program represents the state’s commitment to that mission,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said in a statement.

 

ISP: BODY CAMS INSTALLED - A year after Governor Eric Holcomb announced that Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers would be required to wear body cameras, the agency has finished installing the equipment for the program (WANE-TV). It’s a safety precaution with a $15 million price tag over the next five years. According to Sgt. Brian Walker, a spokesman for ISP, the cameras won’t alleviate the safety issues that troopers encounter on a daily basis, but they will help with documenting their encounters. Eight hundred ISP troopers are now wearing the real-time, high resolution Axon cameras. They are mounted on their uniform, and their squad cars have newly installed front-facing and rear-facing interior cameras.

 

ISDH: TUESDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Tuesday that 2,863 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 886,461 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 14,172 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19. Another 451 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,995,480 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,960,242 on Friday. A total of 12,598,831 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.

 

IVY TECH: PARTNERSHIP WITH MARTIN U EXPANDS - Ivy Tech Community College is expanding a partnership that began last year with Martin University in Indianapolis to address the advancement of minority students overcoming racial gaps (Inside Indiana Business). The schools will share Ivy Tech Vice President of Academic Quality and Assessment Dr. Marcus Kolb as an Executive on Loan. “With Martin University and Ivy Tech sharing so many common goals, and working to serve many of the same kinds of students, I am honored to be asked to continue to contribute to the growing partnership and help chart a path for the next set of initiatives and innovations,” said Kolb. Ivy Tech says the program was launched in December 2020 and focuses on helping students meet educational goals and helps employers hire a more diverse workforce.

 

ATTORNEY GENERAL: ROKITA ASKS SCOTUS TO PROTECT RELIGIOUS LIBERTY - As part of a 15-state coalition, Attorney General Todd Rokita has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold the rights of churches to practice and teach religious beliefs free from government interference (Howey Politics Indiana). At issue is the First Amendment right of a Virginia church to define who is a minister under its own religious doctrine.  New Life in Christ Church is seeking Supreme Court review of a recent ruling by a Virginia state court that denied a tax exemption to the church’s parsonage based on the government’s interpretation of the church’s religious doctrine. “When it comes to our rights under the U.S. Constitution, we must remember that what happens in other states has a direct impact on the preservation of our freedoms here in Indiana,” Attorney General Rokita said. “I will always stand strong for Hoosiers’ religious liberty. We must never yield an inch of ground in defending such fundamental principles as those at stake in this case.” 

 

MILITARY: NE HONOR FLIGHTS CANCELLED - Honor Flight Northeast Indiana (HFNEI) has canceled two fall flights planned for October 6 and October 27 (Howey Politics Indiana). After lengthy review and thorough consideration, the Board of Directors of Honor Flight Northeast Indiana has made the difficult decision to cancel the Honor Flights scheduled for the remainder of 2021 due to unforeseen logistical issues and continuing changing COVID protocols that preclude them from flying this fall. The Board of Directors did not see any opportunity to safely operate flights with the current (and predicted) continuing increases in infections, hospitalizations, etc. Veterans and guardians who were originally scheduled for the October 6, 2021 Honor Flight from Fort Wayne will automatically be re-scheduled for the April 2022 Honor Flight.

 

Nation

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SAYS 'CLIMATE CHANGE IS HERE' - President Biden warned Americans on Tuesday that Hurricane Ida’s lethal destruction in New Jersey and New York had been caused by a changing climate and that action was needed to prevent extreme weather patterns from worsening (New York Times). “Climate change is here. We’re living through it now,” Mr. Biden said in New Jersey. “We’re at one of those inflection points where we act, or we’re going to be in real, real trouble.” The trip gave Mr. Biden another opportunity to demonstrate his commitment to the federal government’s storm response and to build support for an infrastructure package that he has promised would help safeguard against future storms. On the same day as Mr. Biden’s visit, the White House sent Congress an “urgent” funding request for $14 billion to aid recovery from natural disasters that occurred before Hurricane Ida and to avert a government shutdown on Oct. 1.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN TO VISIT 9/11 SITES - President Biden on Saturday will visit all three sites where planes crashed on September 11, 2001, to commemorate the victims and heroes of that day on the 20th anniversary of the attack (CBS News). The White House said Mr. Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit New York City, Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and the Pentagon. Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff will also visit Shanksville for a separate event, before joining the Bidens at the Pentagon. Mr. Biden was a senator at the time of the attack, and it was his wife who first informed him planes had struck the World Trade Center. Mr. Biden also visited Shanksville on the anniversary of the attacks last year, when he was a candidate for president. Former President Barack Obama visited all three 9/11 sites on September 11, 2011, the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN SEEKS IDA FUNDING - The White House is asking Congress to approve an additional $24 billion in spending to handle the costs of Hurricane Ida and other natural disasters, as well as $6.4 billion for the resettlement of evacuees from Afghanistan to help with transportation, government processing and public health screenings (ABC News). Shalanda Young, acting director of the Office of Management and Budget, in a blog post Tuesday proposed the spending be part of a stopgap spending bill, saying “it’s clear” that Congress will need more time to pass a full 2022 budget. Continuing resolutions typically are approved by Congress to keep the government operating when the annual appropriations/spending bills have not been approved before the fiscal year ends at the end of September.

 

WHITE HOUSE: BIDEN/HARRIS SCHEDULES - President Biden's schedule today: 10 a.m.: The president will receive the President’s Daily Brief.  11:20 a.m.: Biden will deliver remarks on labor unions with Labor Secretary MARTY WALSH in attendance in the East Room. 2:45 p.m.: Biden will receive a briefing from the White House Covid-19 Response Team. Harris's Wednesday: 9:05 a.m. EDT: The vice president will depart D.C. en route to Oakland, Calif. 12:40 p.m. PDT: Harris will attend an event for Gov. GAVIN NEWSOM in San Leandro, Calif.  2:30 p.m. PDT: Harris will depart California to return to D.C. Press secretary Jen Psaki, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and NEC Director Brian Deese will brief at 2 p.m.

 

STATE: BLINKEN DENIES TALIBAN HOLDING AMERICANS - There are a "small number" of U.S. citizens in the northern Afghan city Mazar-e-Sharif who have been unable to evacuate on chartered flights, Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed Tuesday, but he said the Taliban had grounded the aircraft because others manifested for these flights did not have valid travel documents (ABC News). The chartered flights for approximately 600 people have been held at Mazar-e-Sharif's airport for over a week now, according to sources who helped organize them, with at least 19 U.S. citizens waiting in the city to board and flee Afghanistan. A top Republican lawmaker said Sunday these Americans and at-risk Afghans were essentially being held hostage by the Taliban - something that Blinken dismissed Tuesday.

 

TEXAS: ABBOTT SIGNS VOTING RESTRICTIONS LAW - Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on Tuesday signed into law a bill that bans 24-hour and drive-thru voting, imposes new hurdles on mail-in ballots and empowers partisan poll watchers (CNN). The restrictive voting measure adds Texas to the list of Republican-controlled states that have seized on former President Donald Trump's lies about widespread voter fraud and clamped down on access to the ballot box this year. Already, Florida, Georgia and other states have enacted new voting laws. The election overhaul in Texas comes as Republicans seek to hold onto power in a rapidly changing state where people of color make up virtually all of the population growth -- and that growth is concentrated in large cities that tend to vote Democratic.

 

KENTUCKY: GOV. BESHEAR CALLS LEGISLATURE BACK -  Gov. Andy Beshear signed a proclamation on Saturday, officially calling for Kentucky’s General Assembly to meet in special session next week (WFIE-TV). The call for legislation is set to begin at 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday. The governor says the session will consider multiple efforts to fight the spread of COVID-19, including the possibility of extending the state of emergency to January. He also wants there to be more flexibility for schools to use non-traditional instruction days. This comes as Kentucky continues to break records related to COVID hospitalizations. “This is one of the most dangerous times we’ve experienced this entire pandemic, with the delta variant burning through Kentucky and taking more of our loved ones and neighbors. It’s also overwhelming more and more of our hospitals and shutting down our schools,” Gov. Beshear said.

 

LOUISIANA: POWER TO RETURN TO NEW ORLEANS TODAY - Most New Orleans residents who are still without power can expect to see their lights return on Wednesday, 10 days after Hurricane Ida brought down the transmission lines that link the city to the electric grid, according to Entergy, the city’s sole provider of electricity (New York Times). Power has been restored block by block over the past week, as thousands of workers fixed downed power lines, and crews removed dangerous limbs and fallen trees.

 

MLB: CHISOX DEFEAT OAKLAND 6-3 - Tony La Russa has seen his share of celebrations during all his decades in baseball. What the Chicago White Sox gave Jimmy Lambert for his first major league win ranked right up there (ESPN). "I'll just say the beer was very cold," said the 26-year-old right-hander, who had Tommy John surgery in 2019 and "didn't know if I'd ever get a chance to win a major league game." Gavin Sheets hit a go-ahead RBI single in the fifth to back Lambert, Cesar Hernandez added a two-run single in the same inning, and the AL Central-leading White Sox beat the stumbling Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Tuesday night. Lambert (1-1) allowed three hits over five solid innings to win in his third career start and six appearance as Chicago matched its season-high of 22 games above .500 (80-58).

 

MLB: REDS DOWN CUBS 4-3 - Wade Miley was terrific, and Kyle Farmer made a pair of clutch plays. Jonathan India and Nick Castellanos had a couple of big swings (ESPN). They all stepped up on a night when Cincinnati desperately needed a win. Miley pitched seven effective innings, Castellanos homered and the Reds cooled off the Chicago Cubs with a 4-3 victory Tuesday.

 

World

 

NEW TALIBAN GOVT LOOKS LIKE THE OLD: Four days before the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks that prompted the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the Taliban declared the restoration of their Islamic Emirate and named a new government, excluding other political forces and giving control of internal security to a U.S.-designated terrorist (Wall Street Journal). Afghanistan’s new administration, formed three weeks after the Taliban conquered Kabul and deposed the Afghan republic, prompting a massive exodus of foreigners and Afghans at risk, included no women or members of the Shiite minority. Its makeup, unveiled at a hastily called nighttime press conference, belied the Taliban’s repeated assurances to foreign governments and fellow Afghans that they would establish an inclusive government that represents all parts of the Afghan society.

 

MEXICO SUPREME COURT DECRIMINALIZE ABORTION: Mexico’s supreme court voted unanimously on Tuesday to decriminalize abortion, a striking step in a country with one of the world’s largest Catholic populations and a move that contrasts sharply with tighter restrictions introduced across the border in Texas (Washington Post). Eight of the 11 supreme court judges had expressed support for decriminalization in arguments that began Monday, making the decision virtually inevitable. The vote comes as a powerful women’s movement is transforming Mexico, where female politicians now make up half of Congress. While abortion remains illegal in most of Latin America, there has been a surge in demonstrations demanding more rights for women, particularly focused on rising violence.

 

Local

 

FORT WAYNE: COUNCIL AIRS AMBULANCE GRIEVANCES - Fort Wayne City Council members were clear Tuesday night about their frustrations as officials updated them on ongoing staff shortages and compliance issues with the city's emergency medical services (Filchak, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). Three Rivers Ambulance Authority officials attended a council meeting six weeks ago after Councilman Russ Jehl, R-2nd, criticized the ambulance authority board for not moving quickly enough to solve the staff shortage and not informing the public about the emergency declaration, which allowed the board to take immediate action. Jehl on Tuesday criticized Three Rivers officials for not progressing further in six weeks' time and not putting citizens' emergency care as a top priority. “You all are looking terrible because you clearly are putting the needs of those that are in an emergency situation as last priority and your own selfish interests first,” he said. “It is disgusting.”

 

COLUMBUS: HOSPITAL FACES GROWING COVID SURGE — COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased in recent days at Columbus Regional Hospital as a growing surge in coronavirus hospitalizations prompts more nearby hospitals to stop non-emergency surgeries (Columbus Republic). On Monday, there were 44 people hospitalized for COVID-19 at CRH, up from 32 the week before, the hospital said. By Tuesday morning, there were 35 people hospitalized for COVID-19, including six patients listed in critical condition. However, those figures could climb higher as officials have said that hospitalizations generally increase over the course of the day. Along with hospitalizations, cases continue to rise in Bartholomew County. On Saturday, at least 87 Bartholomew County residents tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: COVID RESTRICTIONS ORDERED — The city’s public buildings are now open by appointment only. Washington Park Zoo remains open, but with several restrictions. Mayor Duane Parry issued an executive order Tuesday afternoon in hopes of reducing the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions are effectively immediately and will continue until further notice (Ross, NWI Times). Tuesday’s City Council meeting was shifted from a hybrid of in-person and online to online only. Except for the Water Department, Sanitation Department and Port Authority, all Michigan City boards and commissioners will meet exclusively online, Parry said. All public meetings will be conducted via Zoom and live-streamed on Facebook to allow public comments.

 

MICHIGAN CITY: $5K DONATED FOR BANDSTAND RESTORATION — The Michigan City Historical Society donated $5,000 to the Michigan City Parks Department for the restoration of the historic bandstand at Washington Park last week in the hopes that their efforts will encourage others to chip in to get the project done (LaPorte Herald-Dispatch).

 

INDIANAPOLIS: HOGSETT TO LAY OUT $25M TRAILS PLAN - On Wednesday, September 8, Mayor Joe Hogsett will join the Indianapolis Department of Public Works (Indy DPW) to detail plans for Circle City Forward Phase Three, a $25 million investment in the construction and design of nine different trail and greenway projects, ahead of next Monday's full Council vote on the fiscal ordinance to fund the program (Howey Politics Indiana). While several projects will only have design costs funded through this initiative, should DPW leverage the funding as planned to secure funding from the state and federal level, this initial $25 million is targeted to result in more than 45 miles of trails and multimodal infrastructure.

 

INDIANAPOLIS: CHILDREN'S MUSEUM REQUIRING MASKS – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is requiring masks. The museum has “strongly encouraged” masks indoors for anyone over two years old who’s not vaccinated. Effective Wednesday, it’s now requiring masks, whether you’re vaccinated or not (WIBC). Operations manager Audra Blaisdel says says more than half the museum’s visitors are school age, and COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in that group are rising sharply. Teenagers and preteens are Indiana’s least-vaccinated age group — the vaccine isn’t approved at all for kids under 12, and only a third of Hoosiers age 12 to 19 have been vaccinated.

 

COLUMBUS: CUMMINS DELAYS RETURN TO OFFICE DUE TO COVID - Cummins Inc. has pushed back plans to fully reopen offices as COVID-19 cases surge across the country, including in Columbus (Columbus Republic). Cummins officials said Tuesday the company has pushed back its return-to-office date until early next year, but will continue with a voluntary pilot program for vaccinated employees at its corporate office in downtown Columbus. The company employs about 8,000 people in the Columbus area, many of whom have been working from home since spring 2020 as the coronavirus swept across the country.

 

SOUTH BEND: PD SHOT SPOTTER SOFTWARE HAS GLITCHES — The South Bend Police Department recently rolled out a new crime analysis software that officials say will improve crime prevention and officer accountability. However, the software, which launched in early July and is called ShotSpotter Connect, has had some glitches that need to be ironed out before the department can begin to judge the system’s effectiveness, officials say (South Bend Tribune). The Connect system, which is run by the company that provides the city with gunshot detection technology, uses historic crime data in addition to other factors, such as population density, weather and the proximity to liquor stores or bars, to create an algorithm showing risk areas in the city. Connect also directs officers’ workflow, assigning them “missions” to accomplish in at-risk areas while on duty. “I feel comfortable and confident with the system after working through the hiccups the last couple of weeks,” said Assistant South Bend Police Chief Dan Skibins. 

 

CARMEL: CITY TO RAZE ROTARY AMPHITHEATER — Demolition starts Tuesday on Carmel’s Rotary Amphitheater at Carter Green. The move makes way for a new wooden pavilion, however, at least one of the organizations that uses the space is not happy about the change (CBS4). “Never asked for anything to replace this. This works ideally for us,” said Ron Carter, president of the Carmel Farmers Market. “We weren’t asked. Rotary wasn’t asked. This is something that just popped up as far as we knew.” A press release came out late Friday afternoon detailing the plans for a grand, wooden pavilion which is set to be constructed in time for Christkindlmarkt.

 

LAFAYETTE: MAYOR ROSWARSKI PITCHES TO GEN Z — Gen Z, the Lafayette labor market needs you. That's what Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski penned in a commentary shared with the Journal & Courier Tuesday. Roswarski partnered with Brad Rhorer, chief talent programs officer of Conexus Indiana. "We know that Gen Z Hoosiers want their careers to make a difference and have meaning," the pair wrote. "Careers in advanced manufacturing and logistics allow them to be part of making and moving things that change the world." Those jobs can pay as much as $77,000, they stated. Conexus recently selected Lafayette as the first Indiana community to pilot MakeInMove, a program to raise awareness of the hundreds of thousands of high-tech and well-paying careers in advanced manufacturing and logistics among young adults in Lafayette.

 

EVANSVILLE: COVID CUTS SHORT LST 325 TOUR - The LST 325 had to cut its annual river cruise short after a breakthrough COVID case among one of their crew members (WFIE-TV). In a Facebook post, officials say the entire crew was vaccinated. However, they experienced a potential breakthrough case toward the end of their Brandenburg visit. He was sent home to self-isolate, where he tested positive for the virus. At the end of the Brandenburg visit, they say they had two more crew members showing possible symptoms.

 

ALLEN COUNTY: 2 DISTRICTS TURN DOWN MASK MANDATES - Masks remain optional in two Allen County districts despite superintendents' efforts Tuesday to reinstate mandates (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette). The proposals at East Allen County Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools were in reaction to Gov. Eric Holcomb's action last week that loosened quarantine rules for symptom-free students, teachers and staff in close contact with a positive COVID-19 case – but only if schools mandated masks. Parents cheered when the EACS board rejected a proposed face mask mandate for students and staff. The mandate, which generated intense board discussion, would have taken effect Monday and lasted for one month. The vote was tied at 3-3 when President Todd Buckmaster voted no. Meanwhile, the SACS board elicited applause from those inside a packed conference room when members voted 4-1 for a policy maintaining the district's mask recommended stance.

 

POSEY COUNTY: NORTH SCHOOLS TO REQUIRE MASKS - North Posey students should be heading back to class after the Labor Day weekend with a mask (WFIE-TV). The school district put out a note on Friday, saying they will be following Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb’s executive order, which eases quarantine requirements if students are masked up.

 

VERMILLION COUNTY: SOUTH SCHOOLS TO REQUIRE MASKS - By a 6-0 vote this morning, the South Vermillion School Corp. School Board approved a mask mandate for all students, staff and visitors during the school day and for after-school activities indoors (Terre Haute Tribune-Star). Also, all field trips will be postponed until further notice. The mask mandate takes effect Tuesday, Sept. 7. The school board conducted an emergency meeting at 8:30 a.m. The district currently has 17 students who have COVID-19, with about 193 students under quarantine, said Dave Chapman, district superintendent, after the meeting. Total enrollment is 1,625 students. "We don't want to wait another day not having kids in school," Chapman said. By putting a mask mandate into effect immediately, "It will help us prevent further quarantining at the rate it's currently going."

 

MADISON COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS ANNOUNCE ARP FUND PLANS - Madison County is taking the first steps on how to utilize $25.2 million through the American Rescue Plan (de la Bastide, Anderson Herald Bulletin). Over the next two years the county will receive the federal funding that has specific guidelines for how to spend the money. The Madison County commissioners Tuesday took under advisement a proposed ordinance that will provide an overall outline on how the $25.2 million will be spent. Commissioner John Richwine said a vote on the ordinance would be delayed until the Sept. 21 meeting to allow for input from members of the Madison County Council and other elected officials. County attorney Jeff Graham said the plan has to be adopted under the guidelines established by the federal government. “It’s up to the commissioners and (county) council how to spend the funds,” he said.

 

TIPPECANOE COUNTY: COMMISSIONERS OFFER $100 VAX INCENTIVE - Some 750 Tippecanoe County are eligible, through the end of the year, to pick up $100 to show that they’re fully vaccinated or they get their shots, based on a policy county commissioners passed on a 2-1 vote Tuesday morning (Bangert, Based in Lafayette). But 100 bucks enough to move the needle for government employees working in a county where vaccination rates have barely inched to 52% after hitting the halfway mark weeks ago? Commissioner Tracy Brown, the lone vote against the $100 push and other COVID-related incentives, said he wasn’t so sure. “I hope and pray that I eat crow on this,” said Brown, who prefaced his vote by saying he was among the first in line to get a vaccine shot when his age bracket was eligible in spring 2021.