Coronavirus: House Dems Ask For Workforce Protection, E-Learning Likely Through Summer
The Indiana State Department of Health reported 61 additional deaths Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 630. The state announced more than 12,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 67,000 Hoosiers tested.
Indiana House Democrats sent a letter to the governor’s office asking the state to better protect the safety of essential workers. The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has seen thousands of non-formal COVID-19 complaints related to various safety issues in the past month.
In a letter to the governor last week, the party caucus notes that in a recent executive order, Gov. Eric Holcomb requires businesses to follow CDC guidelines. However, they say without “strict enforcement,” too many businesses are interpreting the guidelines as suggestions.
Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box rebuffed questions Tuesday about providing more specific information about COVID-19 outbreaks at nursing homes.
Other states have released detailed nursing home information – lists of facilities with COVID-19 cases, for instance.
In past weeks, Indiana state officials did discuss some specific outbreaks. But now, Box says the state will only release aggregate data. She says reporting COVID-19 cases and deaths is a “personal thing” between long-term care facilities, the residents and their families.
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick says the local response from school districts to support Indiana’s more than 1 million K-12 students learning from home is taking shape but the disparity in funding is emphasizing inequalities.
School districts are struggling to provide robust e-learning options to families. A reason some can not, she says, is inadequate state funding.
“So for us to expect those districts who are fiscally strapped to have a lot of money or capacity for device, or access or professional development, or tech integration positions or coaches is just not realistic,” McCormick says.
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McCormick spoke to the media during a live video stream Tuesday. Reporters were asked to submit questions in advance. No questions from the media were taken during the stream. Instead, McCormick spoke for 45 minutes and touched on more than a dozen topics facing students, teachers and schools across the state as they grapple with remote learning and the uncertainty of how and when buildings will reopen.
Arianna Thompson had big plans for her pregnancy. A photoshoot. Two baby showers – one in South Bend, Indiana, where she lives, and one with family in Chicago.
Everything has been canceled.
“Every first-time mom gets a baby shower. That’s just not right,” Thompson says. “But then I was like, ‘Well, it's better safe than sorry.’”
Like most people, Thompson now spends her days inside, unless she has to go to the store to stock up on diapers. Her last in-person appointment with her midwife was more than a month ago.
“I’m just counting down the days at this point,” she says. “I’m like, 30 more days.”
Thirty days until Thompson gives birth to a girl she’s naming Heaven Noelle. Thompson found out she was pregnant last August, three days after her 24th birthday. And she had typical first-time mom worries.
“Your body is going to do so many new things, so you don't really know what’s the outcome going to be,” Thompson said. “So I was more so nervous about, like, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.”
A month from her due date, she has very different worries.
Purdue University President Mitch Daniels said Tuesday the school intends to welcome students back to campus safely in the fall, and laid out a series of possible measures to do just that -- including COVID-19 tests for students, faculty, and staff prior to their arrival on campus.
In a letter sent to the university community, Daniels – who stressed that the policies were only “preliminary” – said testing could continue through the school year, with results processed in a Purdue laboratory. Those diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19 would be quarantined in a specific space, and contact tracing would be used to identify people in their close network for self-quarantines.
“We intend to know as much as possible about the viral health status of our community,” Daniels said.
An Indiana Congressman and the Indianapolis mayor are concerned some families can’t access broadband internet at a time when students are homebound and expected to continue their education during the coronavirus pandemic.
Exact numbers of how many families are without online access in Marion County are not available. School district officials are still assessing students’ needs. But the 2017 American Community Survey estimated about a fifth of Marion County families with school age children do not have a computer or internet at home.
U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Indianapolis) says the COVID-19 crisis further exposed the digital divide that exists in communities across our country and in our state.
“This is particularly true for communities of color, which are already being disproportionately harmed by the devastating impact of this virus,” Carson said in a statement. “It is past time for the internet to be treated and regulated like any other utility that is essential in everyday life for Hoosiers.”
This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.