As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, responses from state and local government continue to evolve. In a March 19 press conference, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced an extension of the state of emergency for another 30 days, a step that will affect every facet of Hoosier life. Originally set to expire April 5, the health state of emergency now will continue into May.
“This [pandemic] has rocked Hoosiers’ worlds,” Holcomb said. “ … These are not actions we wanted to take; they are actions we had to take.”
Indiana schools will be closed until at least May 1. Holcomb and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said this date may be revised to extend through the end of the academic school year if the risks of COVID-19 still persist.
While students are at home, McCormick urged them to continue e-learning. McCormick also reassured the roughly 75,000 high school seniors in the state that the goal is to make sure they graduate on time.
If students in K-12 are able to return to the classroom this year, all-state mandated assessments, including Common Core and ISTEP, will be cancelled. McCormick said she is requesting waivers from the U.S. Department of Education.
“We want to make sure that time spent in the classroom is focused on instruction,” Holcomb said.
While having children home from school may put additional strain on working parents, Holcomb has issued several executive orders intended to protect Hoosier families from losing their homes and utilities.
Holcomb passed an executive order earlier this month temporarily prohibiting evictions and foreclosures. An extension was made to prohibit providers of gas, electric, broadband, water and wastewater services discontinuing service to any customer during this pandemic.
The state will interpret unemployment laws to cover as many Hoosiers in need as possible. According to Holcomb, 22,583 Indiana residents have filed for unemployment since March 16. To put that in perspective, as of March 15 of this year, Indiana had an unemployment rate of 3.1%, five points lower than the national average.
There are currently 56 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana. However, as the number of tests being conducted increases, State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box expects the number of confirmed cases to increase, as well.
“As we increase the number of tests analyzed each day,” Box said in a press release, “no one should be caught off guard that the number of positive cases will increase. This will help us know where community spread is occuring in Indiana and help us mobilize resources in affected areas.”
Holcomb said the state’s COVID-19 task force will continue to assess the needs of Hoosiers and take further steps if necessary.
To keep up with the latest news on COVID-19 in Indiana, visit https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/. For full summary of the changes from the most recent executive order affects, visit https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.