Coronavirus: All Schools Closed, Major Political Parties Call For Vote-By-Mail

Mar 18, 2020

(Pixabay)

More than 30 cases of novel coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Indiana. The governor announced Wednesday all schools across the state are closed to help combat the spread of COVID-19. And the leaders of Indiana’s two major political parties want all Hoosiers to be able to vote by mail in May’s primary.

Party Leaders Call For Vote-By-Mail

In a letter to the Indiana Election Commission, GOP Chair Kyle Hupfer and Democratic Party Chair John Zody say Hoosier voters have legitimate concerns about voting in person this May.

Current law only allows vote-by-mail if the person is totally unable to be at the polls on Election Day – for instance, if they’re going to be out of town, if they’re confined to a health care facility or their home, or if they’re a member of the military.

Zody and Hupfer want the Election Commission to eliminate those requirements and allow all registered voters who want one to receive a ballot in the mail and cast their votes.

READ MORE: What Do You Need To Know About Coronavirus? We’ve Got Answers.

Automotive Manufacturers Idle Indiana Plants

Several auto manufacturers announced Wednesday temporary shutdowns at facilities in response to the novel coronavirus.

In Indiana, those include General Motors, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Honda plants. The closures will last up to two weeks. Toyota also plans to idle production for two days.

As of Wednesday afternoon, auto manufacturer Subaru of Indiana in Lafayette has not announced any plans to close its facility.

Closed Schools Raise Questions About Special Education, Accessibility

Many schools are using e-learning tools, lesson packets and virtual instruction to keep educating students, but that doesn't always mean kids can use them to learn. 

Daniel McNulty heads the PATINS Project – a state-funded school resource center focused on special education. He says sudden at home learning is tough for everyone, but especially those who don't have accommodations they usually have at school: like text-to-speech, materials in braille, or – for nonverbal kids – devices to help them communicate.

"We're getting questions like 'my child just received a paper packet with no communication with it, it's not in an accessible format,'" he says. 

Tippecanoe, Madison Counties Report COVID-19 Cases

A Tippecanoe County resident has the county’s first presumptive positive case of COVID-19.

Tippecanoe County Health Department said Wednesday the resident became symptomatic and was tested while in Florida, and remains at a hospital there in stable condition.

It said the patient was in Florida for four days before showing any symptoms.

A Madison County resident was part of the nine new cases reported by the Indiana State Department of Health Wednesday. Madison County health officials say they’re working to inform anyone who’s had close contact with that person.

Notre Dame Suspends In-Person Classes For Spring Semester

The University of Notre Dame has extended its suspension of in-person classes through the end of the spring semester. 

In a letter to the campus community, university President Father John Jenkins said the move stems from recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A Notre Dame student has tested positive for COVID-19. 

The student was in self-quarantine after returning from a London study abroad. They did not return to the university’s South Bend campus. 

The student is at home and receiving medical care. They are not from Indiana.

Cities, Utilities Suspend Shut-Offs

Several cities and companies have suspended utility shut offs during the coronavirus pandemic. It could help families on the margin.

Indiana Michigan Power says they will not shut off power due to missed bill payments. The Cities of South Bend and Goshen suspended water shutoffs and late fees for non-payment.

Businesses, Restaurants Work To Adjust To Coronavirus

Businesses in Muncie’s Village corridor rely heavily on foot traffic from Ball State University students. Now that coronavirus precautions have led the university to suspend in-person classes and close the dorms, these small merchants face challenges in the months ahead they normally only have in the summer months.

Indianapolis restaurants have been ordered to move to carry-out, delivery and drive-thru services to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett picked up dinner Tuesday night at Half Liter in south Broad Ripple. He says the changes will be difficult.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

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.