The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, March 18, 2020 1:00 am

2nd Hoosier dies; Guard activated

Holcomb shuts bars; positive cases in state at 30

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – As a second Hoosier died from the novel coronavirus and positive cases rose to 30 on Tuesday, Gov. Eric Holcomb activated the Indiana National Guard and implemented further measures to try to slow the spread of the virus.

State officials said the latest casualty was a Johnson County adult over age 60 who had been hospitalized. No further information will be released due to privacy laws.

The number of confirmed cases for COVID-19 jumped from 24 to 30. Health officials concede thousands could be infected without knowing it because there are too few tests. The Indiana State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have tested just 159 people in Indiana.

The newest cases involve residents of Lake, Franklin and Marion counties. Allen County doesn't have any confirmed cases.

Holcomb signed an executive order Monday implementing several actions, including the closure of bars and restaurants to in-person dining. The order also places the Indiana National Guard on state duty “to address and assist in this public health emergency.”

Other actions:

• Delaying nonessential public meetings. For essential meetings, one member is required to be physically present, but other members will be allowed to participate electronically.

• Urging Hoosiers who feel they have been subject to price gouging on consumer goods to contact the state Attorney General.

• Making clear that the executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security has the authority to evacuate people from specific areas.

• Saying the state health commissioner has authority to quarantine and isolate Hoosiers.

• Reserving the right to utilize and employ all resources not only of state government but also of each political subdivision, such as cities and towns.

The latest developments have a Democrat running for governor – a doctor and former state health commissioner during the early stages of the AIDS – offering suggestions for handling the pandemic.

Dr. Woody Myers has worked on all sides of the health care industry for several decades.

Myers issued an 11-point plan Tuesday that includes closing all schools immediately. Most have already closed but a few remain open and all closures have been local decisions – not by the governor.

Myers said he would also appoint a task force, call a special session of the General Assembly to appropriate at least $100 million from the surplus for immediate needs, pass stronger price gouging laws and emergency paid leave, delay filing of Indiana state taxes, and expand unemployment benefits.

“We need testing more than any other single item. Because without testing you don't know where your clusters are and where you need to focus your resources,” he said.

Myers also said that information on the state department of health website for testing protocols tells private labs that tests won't be processed during weekends.

“What the hell? This is a public health emergency. Weekends and holidays no longer matter,” he said.

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