Gov. Holcomb gives update on COVID-19; one week left to apply for state rental assistance program

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS– Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb provided an update Wednesday on the state’s coronavirus response.

He opened the briefing by acknowledging that Indy 500 race weekend is coming up, and said “we’ll be joining a worldwide audience in watching from home.”

He said if you plan to watch the race with family or friends, to remember to practice social distancing.

Holcomb noted that funding to schools through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund is in transit, with $61 million aimed at benefiting 670,000 Indiana students. The state has delivered 2.4 million masks to schools, along with hand sanitizer.

Applicants submitted plans that included:

  • The purchase of student devices including Chromebooks and iPads
  • New or upgraded laptops, MacBooks, Chromebooks, and iPads for teachers
  • Mi-Fi devices with corresponding subscription plans for families who lack reliable internet connectivity

“Indiana’s students, parents and teachers have worked hard to adapt to the challenges COVID-19 has brought to education,” said Gov. Holcomb. “These emergency funds will enable Hoosier students to be more successful with remote learning. Some families will now worry less about internet connectivity, more students will have access to the technology needed at home, and more educators will have the necessary devices to teach remotely.”

These grants will fund a minimum of 68,689 student devices, nearly 2,900 teacher devices, and more than 85,800 connectivity solutions, according to the information provided by applicants.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said Wednesday hospitalizations are down compared to last week, and 76% of patients who needed to be hospitalized have since been discharged.

She noted the state’s 7-day positivity rate is at 7.7% but “we are not seeing the decline we would like to see.”

During the Q&A portion of the press conference, she said she’d love to see 10,000-12,000 tests per day and a positivity rate at 5% or below.

Box said the way the positivity rate is calculated will be adjusted to account for people being tested multiple times, and said the positivity trend is the same for both methods of calculating.

Work on the dashboard for student and school COVID-19 data is still being developed, and could be ready some time next month.

She urged students to avoid extracurricular events if they are awaiting test results.

Dr. Box recognized the pandemic has been stressful for teachers, parents and students, but asked them to not slow down now on prevention methods.

“We’re going to be on this roller coaster for a while, for the foreseeable future,” she said.

In terms of the state’s rental assistance program, Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency Jacob Sipe said more than half of the total applications they’ve gotten were received in the first week of the program.

There is one more week to apply before the program ends. Find more information on that program, as well as other resources, here.

Dr. Box also commented on the situation at the University of Notre Dame, saying the spike was caused by a large off-campus party which resulted in infections. The university has gone back to online-only classes for two weeks.

She said these are the types of things college students need to consider. If they want in-person instruction, she said they may have to change their social habits during the pandemic. Gov. Holcomb said he was pleased at how Notre Dame handled the situation, saying leaders acted appropriately and thoughtfully.

On Wednesday, Indiana reported 506 new COVID-19 cases and 14 additional deaths, bringing the statewide totals to 82,336 and 2,968 respectively.

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