INDIANA RESUMES JOBLESS BENEFIT PAYMENTS: Indiana residents who qualify for extra pandemic unemployment benefits offered by the federal government will resume receiving payments as soon as Friday. Officials with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development said up to 120,000 Hoosiers will again receive payments of up to $300 each week (Steele, WRTV). "Claimants were able to request weekly payments beginning (Thursday)," said Regina Ashley, DWD chief unemployment insurance and workforce solutions officer. "In fact, as of this morning, we've already paid 25,000 claimants on PUA and PEUC over $33 million. This includes the $300 add-on." On Monday, the Court of Appeals of Indiana ordered the benefits to be restarted following a lawsuit challenging Gov. Eric Holcomb's attempt to stop those federal payments. People eligible for the payments will receive them retroactive to the week ending June 26.


PAYNE ANSWERS JOBLESS BENEFIT QUESTIONS: News 8 has been flooded with nearly 900 emails related to unemployment issues with the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Many of the emails outline concerns from people fearing they have to repay the state thousands of dollars after being told they were overpaid during the pandemic. I-Team 8’s Jasmine Minor asked Indiana Department of Workforce Development Chief Unemployment Insurance and Workforce Solutions Officer Regina Ashley and Indiana Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Fred Payne for additional clarification on Friday. Payne said if individuals received overpayment and they provided DWD with a waiver or they repealed it, then the department has stopped any type of attempts to seek repayment from those individuals. “Any individuals who have legitimately provided us with documentation and they filled out the waiver, the answer to the question is generally no,” said Payne.


INDIANA EMPLOYMENT RATE 4.1% IN HOLDING PATTERN: Indiana’s unemployment rate has settled into a holding pattern after its sudden spike and partial recovery during the pandemic, hovering at or near 4% for the last sixth months (IBJ). The unemployment rate inched up from 4% in May to 4.1% in June, according to numbers released Friday by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. It was 3.9% in April and March, 4% in February and 4.2% in January. It was 3.3% in March 2020, just before the pandemic triggered wide-scale layoffs and job losses. It hit 16.9% in April 2020 and then steadily descended over the course of the year. Indiana’s recovery continued to outshine the improvement in the national rate. U.S. unemployment ticked up from 5.8% in May to 5.9% in June. An estimated 138,192 Hoosiers are currently unemployed and seeking jobs, the state reported. That’s up from 134,593 in May and 131,101 in April. Indiana’s labor force—which is composed of both employed and unemployed-but-willing-to-work residents—had a net increase of 4,148 over May’s tally to about 3.35 million. This was a result of an increase of 3,014 unemployed residents and an increase of 1,134 employed residents. Indiana’s labor-force participation rate rose from 63.1% in May to 63.2% in June. It again bettered the national rate of 61.6%, which drooped from 61.7% in May.


DELTA VARIANT CONCERNS HEALTH OFFICIALS: The spreading Delta variant and stagnating COVID vaccination rates have Indiana health officials concerned. As of July 14, only 56 percent of Monroe County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19. IU Health South Central says only one other county in its region, Orange County, has 50 percent of its residents fully vaccinated.  Morgan, Brown, Lawrence, Owen and Greene Counties remain below 50 percent (Indiana Public Media). “The state has reported, and this is true for us, 12- to 15-year-olds have the lowest rate of vaccinations, and they have been eligible for vaccinations the least amount of time,” said Monroe County Health Administrator Penny Caudill. Caudill says about 20 percent of positive cases in the county contain the Delta variant. “The Delta variant is here, we know it’s easy to transmit, so please be cautious,” said Caudill.


BIDEN WARNS OF COVID 'MISINFORMATION': President Joe Biden has warned that the spread of Covid-19 misinformation on social media is "killing people" (BBC). He was responding to a question from a reporter about the alleged role of "platforms like Facebook" in spreading falsehoods about vaccines and the pandemic. The White House has been increasing pressure on social media companies to tackle disinformation. Facebook says it is taking "aggressive action" to protect public health. "They're killing people," Mr Biden told reporters at the White House on Friday. "The only pandemic we have is among the unvaccinated." US health officials have warned that the country's current spike in Covid-19 deaths and infections is exclusively hitting unvaccinated communities.


UTAH GOV. COX SAYS ANTI-VAX RHETORIC 'KILLING PEOPLE': Utah's Republican governor said Friday that anti-vaccine messaging is "killing people" and pleaded with his state's residents to get vaccinated. During a news conference Friday, a reporter asked Governor Spencer Cox how harmful anti-vaccine rhetoric, particularly from right-wing sources, has been to the state's vaccination effort (Yahoo News). "I think it's ridiculous," Cox said after praising former President Donald Trump's Operation Warp Speed. "I don't think we can take credit for the vaccine and then tell people that there's something wrong with the vaccine." "We have these - these talking heads who have gotten the vaccine and are telling other people not to get the vaccine. That kind of stuff is just, it's ridiculous. It's dangerous, it's damaging, and it's killing people," Cox said. "I mean, it's literally killing their supporters. And that makes no sense to me." Fox News host Tucker Carlson lambasted President Joe Biden's vaccine outreach efforts, saying he wanted to "force people to take medicine they don't want or need."


FIRST FEMALE TRAPEZE CATCHER IN PERU CIRCUS HISTORY: Courtlynn Crowe wasn’t going to make the cut the first time she tried out to become a flying trapeze performer in the Peru Amateur Circus. But then, unknowingly, she did something to change that. With tryouts over, 12-year-old Crowe started putting away all the equipment as the other contenders stood around talking. Brian Miser, the trapeze coach at the time, said that kind of initiative and work ethic wasn’t something he could ignore (Gerber, Kokomo Tribune). “It was the last practice before making cuts, and I had my mind made up,” he said. “But I saw Courtlynn carrying some poles and the others standing around, and I said, ‘I think I just changed my mind.’” In 2019, Crowe switched roles to become a flying trapeze catcher. It’s a role that had always been held by a male. But that changed with Crowe, who became the first female catcher in the Peru circus’ 62-year history. Now, Crowe is set to once again perform as the trapeze catcher during this year’s Peru Circus City Festival, which kicks off today and runs through July 25 after being canceled last year due to COVID-19.


HPI DAILY ANALYSIS: CDC Commissioner Walensky says the COVID outbreak has become a "pandemic of the unvaccinated." - Brian A. Howey




PENCE CAMPAIGNS IN IOWA: Former Vice President Mike Pence says the time has come for Republicans to push back against Democrats in control of congress and the White House (KIWA-TV). Pence was the keynote speaker Friday at Congressman Randy Feenstra’s midday fundraiser in Sioux Center. Pence said, to applause and cheers. The former Vice President suggests the GOP formula for 2022 and 2024 is to cite the record of the Trump-Pence Administration. Pence, asked by Trump to lead the administration’s pandemic response, touted the outcome of Operation Warp Speed.  The event was a fundraiser for Feenstra’s bid for a second term in the U.S. House and Feenstra introduced Pence to the crowd as a great friend. From Sioux Center, Pence traveled to Des Moines, where he was the closing speaker at The Family Leader’s day-long summit.


80 ATTEND ANTI-GERRYMANDER MOTORCADE: more than 80 democracy advocates participated in All IN for Democracy's “Gerrymander Meander Votercade” along Meridian Street in support of fair redistricting and elections in Indiana. All IN for Democracy is also known as the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting and consists of twenty-five organizations. Common Cause Indiana is a co-founder of the coalition (Howey Politics Indiana). The event was held just a month before Indiana will receive data from the 2020 Census that will inform the drawing of new congressional, state, and local political jurisdictions, a process known as redistricting that takes place every ten years. To date, the Indiana General Assembly, responsible for the state’s redistricting process, has yet to announce any public plans or opportunity for public participation. “Redistricting is the most important issue facing our state this year and every Hoosier deserves a chance to have a say in the process,” said Julia Vaughn, Executive Director of Common Cause Indiana. “It’s extremely concerning that we have yet to hear from the Indiana General Assembly about any public plans or details on how the public can participate. We will continue to push for an open and transparent process that ends gerrymandering and secures free and fair elections for every Hoosier.”




ISDH: FRIDAY COVID STATS - The Indiana Department of Health announced Friday that 561 additional Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19 through testing at state and private laboratories. That brings to 760,103 the number of Indiana residents now known to have had the novel coronavirus following corrections to the previous day’s dashboard. To date, 13,514 Hoosiers are confirmed to have died from COVID-19, an increase of one from the previous day. Another 426 probable deaths have been reported to date based on clinical diagnoses in patients for whom no positive test is on record. A total of 3,628,580 unique individuals have been tested in Indiana, up from 3,623,059 on Wednesday. A total of 11,022,858 tests, including repeat tests for unique individuals, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26, 2020.


ISP: DONATION OF K9 ARMOR - The Indiana State Police said one of its K9s is getting a bullet and stab protective vest thanks to a charitable donation (CBS4). The Indiana State Police said non-profit organization Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. donated the vest thanks to a fundraiser hosted by Jessica Sutton of the American Legion Riders Post #497. The vest will be embroidered with the sentiment “In memory of Dylan Michael Beck #43” The vest will go to K9 Mika. The vest should be delivered within eight to ten weeks. Vested Interest in K9s, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions. A single donation of $960 will sponsor one vest. For more information, or to learn about volunteer opportunities, call 508-824-6978.


ATTORNEY GENERAL: SCAMS TARGETING MILITARY -  Indiana's attorney general is warning members of the military, veterans and their families to be on the lookout for scams specifically targeting them (WHAS-TV). According to Attorney General Todd Rokita, military members should be aware of some recent scams from so-called military charities, calls and texts impersonating the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and crowdfunding scams. “By their very nature, the men and women serving in the U.S. armed forces tend to be selfless individuals,” Attorney General Rokita said in a release. “They consistently prioritize the needs of their country ahead of their own comforts and safety. As part of our office’s mission to safeguard consumers, we want to make a special point to remind these heroes to stay vigilant against fraud, identity theft and other predatory practices.”




DC: SHOOTINGS HALT MLB GAME - The Washington Nationals baseball team evacuated their stadium midway through their game Saturday night, after a shooting was reported just outside the ballpark (Wall Street Journal). Three people were wounded in the incident, which didn’t appear to be related to the game, said Ashan Benedict, executive assistant chief of police for the Washington Metropolitan Police Department, at a news conference. One of them was someone attending the game but who was outside the stadium at the time, he said. Earlier, the police had said on Twitter that four people were wounded. The shooting occurred during the sixth inning of the game against the San Diego Padres, which was suspended shortly afterward. “Loud noises were heard toward the third-base side of the ballpark, and a commotion broke out inside the stadium as fans ran through the concourse and some onto the field,” the Nationals said in a description posted on the team website. Some fans took shelter on the floor between seats, and others gathered in the dugouts of the two teams.


MEDIA: CNN SNAGS KASIE HUNT - Variety’s Brian Steinberg got the scoop on Kasie Hunt’s departure from NBC: “CNN has snatched Kasie Hunt, the Capitol Hill correspondent long viewed as a rising star at NBC News, as part of an aggressive bid to push the WarnerMedia cable-news outlet into the new frontier of streaming video.


MLB: CUBS TOP DBACKS 4-2 - A little rest did a lot of good for Willson Contreras (ESPN). The durable catcher capped Chicago's three-run ninth inning with a two-run homer, sending the Cubs to a 4-2 victory over the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday. Contreras had three hits and scored twice. He has played in 82 of Chicago's 92 games this season, and manager David Ross said he benefitted from the All-Star break. "He's carrying a heavy load for us this year," Ross said.


MLB: SOX ROUT ASTROS 10-1 - Lucas Giolito said he wanted to "come out with a vengeance" in his first start after the All-Star break (ESPN). The Houston Astros felt the wrath of the Chicago White Sox ace right hander. Giolito pitched a three-hitter, José Abreu launched a three-run homer and the White Sox beat the Astros 10-1 on Saturday night. Tim Anderson, Zack Collins and rookies Gavin Sheets and Jake Burger also went deep as the White Sox broke out against the Astros after dropping the first five games in the season series by a combined 34-9 score. "I didn't really like my first half," Giolito said. "Today was really a good launching point for flipping the switch.


MLB: BREWERS DOWN REDS 7-4 -  Christian Yelich doubled home the go-ahead run in the 11th inning and the Milwaukee Brewers beat the Cincinnati Reds 7-4 Saturday night to widen their lead in the NL Central (ESPN). The Reds loaded the bases in the bottom of the 11th, but with an empty bench, manager David Bell sent pitcher Wade Miley up to pinch hit for reliever Ryan Hendrix. He grounded out to second to end the game.


Sunday Talk


SURGEON GENERAL IS 'WORRIED' ABOUT PANDEMIC: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday said he is “worried for what is to come” in the COVID-19 pandemic, as cases are increasing throughout the U.S. primarily among those who are not vaccinated. “I am worried about what is to come because we are seeing increasing cases among the unvaccinated in particular. And while if you are vaccinated you are very well protected against hospitalization and death, unfortunately that is not true if you are not vaccinated,” Murthy told host Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The U.S. has seen an increase in COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, especially as the more contagious delta variant spreads rapidly throughout the country. The new infections have mainly infiltrated non-vaccinated areas. Murthy said 99.5 percent of the deaths right now in the U.S. are individuals who are not inoculated.


LA SUPERVISOR REIMPOSES MASK MANDATE: Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis said in an interview on Sunday that a reimposed mask mandate in indoor public spaces is “not punishment,” but “prevention.” “We still have 4 million people out of 10 million that haven't been vaccinated. And many of them are young people," Solis, a former House lawmaker from California and Labor secretary in the Obama administration, said on ABC’s “This Week.” "And we're seeing that this transmission is so highly contagious that it will cost more in the long run if we have to see our hospitals being impacted, our ICU units, as well as our health care workers.”




TERRE HAUTE: FEDS MOVE MEEHAN TO JAIL - The man charged in the July 7 shooting death of Terre Haute Police Detective Greg Ferency has been transferred from a hospital bed to a jail cell, but his attorneys said today he remains “unable to productively engage” in conversation (Trigg, Terre Haute Tribune-Star). “[Shane] Meehan is currently not able to discuss the charge brought against him,” defense attorneys Monica Foster, Gwendolyn Beitz and Joseph Cleary said in a status report submitted this afternoon to the U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Indiana. Meehan has been charged with premeditated murder of a federal agent in connection with the shooting of Ferency, who was a federal drug task force agent.


BARTHOLOMEW COUNTY: VAX HESITANCY DECLINES - COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Bartholomew County markedly declined over the first six months of the year, though about 1 in 4 residents still say they are on the fence or definitely won’t get vaccinated, a new data tool shows (Columbus Republic). The online tool, published by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is based off surveys conducted through Facebook and offers a glimpse at how many people in Columbus and the surrounding area may be hesitant — or downright refusing — to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated against COVID-19. During the first week of January, about 52% of respondents from Bartholomew County expressed some degree of vaccine hesitancy, the data shows. That number had fallen to about 25% of respondents by the end of June. The data also suggests that about 9% of unvaccinated Bartholomew County residents may be open to the idea of getting vaccinated, though 16% — about 1 in 6 — said during the last week of June that they definitely wouldn’t get vaccinated if a vaccine were offered to them. As of Friday morning, about 46.8% of Bartholomew County’s total population was fully vaccinated as of Thursday morning, including about 55.6% of those who are eligible, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.


JACKSON COUNTY: FIREFIGHTER ARRESTED FOR THEFT - A former Jackson County volunteer firefighter is facing charges after a nearly year long investigation (WRTV). Indiana State Police say Christopher McKain, 44, of Seymour stole approximately $20,000 from the Jackson-Washington Township Fire Department during 2019 and 2020, when he was tasked with doing various jobs for the fire department. McKain allegedly forged invoices from businesses showing that work had been completed and for items he purchased. He then submitted the fraudulent invoices to the Jackson-Washington Township Treasurer and was reimbursed.