Indiana Government Actions on COVID-19 – Updated 6/18/2020
Today’s update discusses:
- Indiana Chamber of Commerce lobbying for employers’ immunity from COVID-19-related lawsuits
- Indiana’s partnership with Indiana Black Expo
- Governor promising no budget cuts for K-12 schools
- Indiana Gaming Commission issuing guidelines for reopening casinos
- Unemployment benefits being extended for 13 weeks
- Eiteljorg Museum reopening June 20
- Indianapolis Zoo reopening Friday
- Optum-operated testing sites offering free testing
- Researchers concerns about second spike
- The Indiana Chamber of Commerce is lobbying on behalf of their membership for a bill that would provide immunity to employers from COVID-19-related lawsuits. The legislation will likely place the burden of proof on the employee and require actual damages. Despite some residents opposing such protections, the Indiana Chamber is hoping to have a policy in place within the next month.
- Governor Holcomb announced that the state plans to partner with Indiana Black Expo, a group that works to address relevant issues in an effort to contribute to positive change. The purpose of the partnership is to work with minority employers and small-business owners to provide funding as these employers and businesses are still facing impacts from COVID-19. According to the Governor, “launching this new partnership with Indiana Black Expo will expand the state’s capacity to provide critical COVID-19 resources to minority businesses and workers, while further positioning Indiana for long-term, sustainable economic recovery.”
- Yesterday Governor Holcomb announced a major promise that Indiana schools were hoping to hear: there will be no budget cuts in the state’s funding of schools for the upcoming school year. The governor also promised to seek legislative approval for schools that have been dealing with a large number of virtual learners to receive 100 percent tuition support, instead of the 85 percent typically provided. Although this decision means that cuts to other programs will be harsher to make up for the $1.2 billion shortfall, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction and the Indiana School Boards Association agree that this decision is “nothing short of tremendous.”
- Indiana’s Gaming Commission issued guidelines for casino employees and guests as those businesses prepare to reopen. Several social distancing measures will be implemented, such as space between slot machines, limited seating at table games, and masks being required for those at table games. Guests and employees will also have temperature screenings before entry is allowed.
- The Indiana Department of Workforce Development has announced a 13-week extension of unemployment benefits for qualifying workers. The state’s unusually high unemployment rate—in excess of 5 percent for an extended period—triggered the extension. Although effective as of June 7, residents will not be eligible for extended benefits until the week of July 4.
- The Eiteljorg Museum will reopen June 20. During the first week, only museum members may visit. After that, it will be open to the general public. Guests must wear face masks, receive a temperature check, and adhere to social distancing measures (such as reduced seating capacity for museum events).
- The Indianapolis Zoo will reopen June 19. Visitors must reserve a free ticket before visiting. In addition, all guests are highly encouraged to wear masks and adhere to social distancing guidelines. The zoo will not accept cash for any transactions.
- The Indiana State Department of Health announced that starting this week, Optum-operated COVID-19 testing sites will be open for any Indiana residents. There is no age or symptom requirement, and referrals are not needed.
- Researchers monitoring COVID-19 cases are assessing the possibility of a second wave of cases as officials continue to relax restrictions. Some researchers believe a second wave may occur once the state moves into its final reopening stage in July. Governor Holcomb continues to follow the guidelines in the “Back on Track” plan and has stated that if the state “cannot meet these principles, all or portions of the state may need to pause on moving forward” or even “return to an earlier stage.”