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State health director again calls on Hoosiers to practice social distancing

Key takeaways from governor's Thursday briefing
Holcomb COVID-19
Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 19:51:52-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb and other state officials briefed reporters Thursday on developments at the state level in the battle against COVID-19.

Here are some key takeaways from the briefing:

Governor Eric Holcomb

  • Says he is "110-percent" behind the decision to move Indy 500 to August, announced Thursday.
  • The governor signed an executive order allowing the Department of Workforce Development to suspend the one-week waiting period that is required before paying unemployment benefits.
  • Hoosiers with chronic health issues will be able to receive a 90-day supply of their non-controlled prescription medication, such as insulin or cholesterol medications.
  • Medicaid recipients can use their benefits to cover costs of using alternate forms of transportation, such as ride-sharing services, for appointments to see their doctors.
  • Not ready to say whether schools will have to be closed beyond May 1.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box

  • Covid-19 death toll increases to 17 in Indiana. 170 new cases since Wednesday. 645 total cases.
  • Box continues to hear about people who are gathering in groups to take advantage of the nice weather. "We need to socially distance ourselves, even as we take our walks through the woods or the park." This applies to "each and every Hoosier.
  • Encourages all long-term care facilities to have a firm plan in place to house patients who test positive for COVID-19.
  • INDOT and the Indiana National Guard began delivering medical supplies from the federal stockpile Thursday to Indiana hospitals.
  • Will not release numbers on how many ICU beds are available in Hoosier hospitals.
  • Fred Payne, Indiana Department of Workforce Development Director
  • For week ending March 21, 62,777 new Indiana unemployment insurance claims were filed. Compare that to just 23,000 claims filed the entire month of January.
  • Federal government has extended by 13-weeks the unemployment insurance benefits expiration date from 26-weeks to 39-weeks in addition to a $600 per-week benefits increase for the next four months.
  • 21-days is the normal time to process a claim and his department is trying to stick to that.

Chris Johnson, Director, Office of Management and Budget

  • State began the year with a budget surplus of $2.3 billion. That will not last. The state is tapping into the reserves to combat COVID-19.
  • Revenue from the gaming industry will suffer after closure of casinos last week.
  • By postponing the filing of state taxes to July 15 the state will see a significant dent in revenues until July.
  • State faces complex finance issues in coming months.

State Police Superintendent Doug Carter

  • There is no need anyplace in Indiana to carry a document that says you are an essential worker. "I hope in America we never get to that point."
  • Officers cannot stop you just to see what you are doing on the road.