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INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb held his weekly COVID-19 update Wednesday to provide Hoosiers with new information about the actions taken by the state.

Holcomb said the state’s moratorium on evictions, foreclosures and utility disconnects will be allowed to expire on Friday, Aug. 14.

A settlement facilitation program can help those facing evictions and foreclosures. The program is currently being developed and specifics will come “in the next few weeks,” according to Holcomb’s general counsel Joseph Heerens.

The program will help tenants and landlords reach agreements in eviction lawsuits by using a neutral, third-party facilitator. If an agreement is reached, the dispute ends along with further court action.

It’s being developed by the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration and will be available statewide at no cost to both tenants and landlords.

Gov. Holcomb said Indiana is adding $15 million to the existing $25 million rental assistance program for a total of $40 million.

About 24,000 Hoosiers have signed up for the state’s rental assistance program, which is separate from the one in Marion County.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Wednesday the state has seen a slight increase recently in the number of COVID-19 patients needing ICU beds.

She reiterated the importance of reopening schools, saying it’s important to adhere to the guidelines of wearing a mask, social distancing, washing your hands and making sure those who are sick stay home.

She said it doesn’t mean schools will be covid-free, but it will help contain any potential outbreak.

Box said if you’re sick and awaiting test results or live with someone who is, stay home. She noted parents should be screening their children for COVID-19 symptoms daily before school.

In terms of when schools should close or reopen, Box said there’s no single metric. Cases that affect an individual classroom warrant a different response from cases that may impact the broader school population.

“Having a case in a school isn’t a reason to panic,” she said. “It’s a reason to take action to prevent further spread.”

Box said she expects to see cases due to contact sports, and reiterated those same hygiene guidelines for those participating or watching.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch announced a $10 million arts and cultural support program funded by the CARES Act. The grant program is for non-profit organizations that have been impacted due to the pandemic, such as, but not limited to:

  • Arts and cultural organizations
  • Museums
  • Theaters
  • Community event organizations
  • Festival organizations
  • Destination marketing organizations

Applications for this program will be available on Monday, Aug. 10 at this link. (Note: Link will not work properly until the program goes live.)

Gov. Holcomb also touched on voting, saying we will have a safe, in-person election. They’re working to ensure the process is safe for those who vote in-person or by absentee ballot. He said he’s not aware of any cases that stemmed from the primary election. Indiana’s mask mandate will apply on Election Day.

During last week’s briefing, Holcomb announced Indiana will remain in Stage 4.5 of its Back On Track opening plan until Aug. 27. Marion County is under stronger restrictions due to a higher population and positivity rate.

On Wednesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 740 new COVID-19 cases and 12 additional deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 69,975 and 2,805 respectively.