By BRIAN A. HOWEY, in Indianapolis

1. Morning in America delayed

This was supposed to be the 21st Century version of morning in America, where we could see the light at the end of the tunnel as more than a million Hoosiers received the COVID-19 miracle vaccine. A CDC study found the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine 90% effective in a study of 4,000 health care workers. But on Monday, we watched a "scared" new CDC Director Rochelle Walensky conveying a feeling of  "impending doom" over a materializing fourth pandemic wave. “We have so much to look forward to, so much promise and potential of where we are and so much reason for hope," an emotional Walensky said. "But right now, I’m scared. I’m going to lose the script, and I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom,” she said. Cases of the virus are up about 10% over the past week from the previous week, to about 60,000 cases per day, with both hospitalizations and deaths ticking up as well. 

Michigan led the nation in new cases with a 57% increase while hospitalizations were up by 47%. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear expressed hope that Gov. Eric Holcomb would reevaluate his decision to change Indiana's mask mandate for an advisory on April 6, calling him "A reasonable person." Beshear added, "We have had good conversations. This is one I hope he reconsiders. If I have the opportunity, I’ll certainly ask him personally to reconsider.”

President Joe Biden, who took office and asked Americans to commit to wearing masks for 100 days, said Monday, "People are letting up on precautions, which is a very bad thing. We are giving up hard-fought, hard-won gains. This is not politics. Reinstate the mandate if you let it down, and businesses should require masks as well.” The Biden administration announced a mass vaccination site at Gary Roosevelt HS on Monday, capable of administering 3,000 shots a day.

2. NFIB says businesses 'not out of woods'

The National Federation of Independent Businesses Research Center released its latest COVID-19 survey on the impact the pandemic has had on small businesses: 13% of small business owners report that they will have to close their doors if current economic conditions do not improve over the next six months, down from 25% in December. Almost three-quarters (74%) of 2020 Paycheck Protection Program borrowers have applied for loan forgiveness. 

3. Bill curbing Governor's powers advances

The Indiana Senate voted Monday to approve a proposal that would curb the governor’s authority under the state emergency powers law following months of complaints from conservatives about Gov. Holcomb’s coronavirus-related orders (Smith, AP). The bill would establish a new process for the General Assembly to call itself into a 40-day emergency session to consider legislative action in response to a gubernatorial declaration of a statewide emergency. That limits a governor’s authority to impose long-lasting emergency restrictions such as mask rules and business closures. The Senate Rules Committee dialed back the plan earlier this month, removing provisions from the legislation that would have allowed local units of government to adopt less stringent public safety guidelines than those contained in the governor’s executive orders. A total prohibition on emergency restrictions applying to religious worship was also deleted. Senate President Rod Bray on negotiations with the House: “I would expect and hope that they’ll be able to concur on the changes that we have and so we could see that moving off to the governor.” Gov. Eric Holcomb has questioned the constitutionality of the legislation.

4. Gallup says church attendance under 50%

For the first time since Gallup began monitoring American membership in places of worship declined to below 50%. In 2020, 47% of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue or mosque, down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999. U.S. church membership was 73% in 1937 when Gallup first measured it.

5. PolkaBoy's 'Hans' dies

PolkaBoy is heartbroken to announce the death of John Partenheimer, a.k.a “Hans”, the leader and front man of the band famous for rocking the Rathskeller's famed biergarten for the past two decades. In a Facebook posting, the band announced that Partenheimer died Saturday from (non-Covid related) complications of pneumonia. "The next time you are at the Rathskeller please raise a glass to the sky and toast John with a 'sip of beer.,'” the band said. "An Oktoberfest in Hans’s honor will take place in late summer/fall 2021. The family thanks all for their prayers and support."

Have a great day, folks. It's The Atomic!