While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for August 26

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INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

Mask mandate update likely coming. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb will give an update on the state’s response to the coronavirus during a 2:30 p.m. press conference today. We expect him to discuss several topics.

Thursday marks one month since the state’s mask mandate went into effect. We expect the governor to talk about whether he will extend the order.

Indiana is currently in stage 4.5 of its reopening plan, so we’re waiting to find out whether Indiana will continue reopening.

Also, Secretary of State Connie Lawson will be at the briefing to give an update on plans for the November election. As we’ve mentioned, Indiana is one of six states in which the coronavirus is not a valid reason to vote by mail, and Holcomb says voting in person is safe.

We will livestream the governor’s briefing on our website.

More childcare options. Hoosier families seeking support during virtual school days now have more options. Gov. Holcomb issued an executive order on Tuesday to allow school corporations to contract organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club to oversee e-learning locations. 

They’ll provide a clean space, and the staff will make sure students are attending online school while following in-person safety precautions. Masks will be required and groups will be limited so they can safely distance themselves. The Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis says it’s excited for the opportunity to help the community in this time of need. 

The governor’s executive order also allows up to 10 school-aged kids to gather in a home on school days for e-learning without requiring the childcare setting to be licensed. 

It’s unclear how long this order will need to be in effect. Several Indiana schools are e-learning until October, but that could be extended.

Roads reopening. Two major Indianapolis roads closed to become pedestrian corridors so restaurants could open to outdoor dining are returning to regular street traffic.

DPW said the pedestrian corridors at Broad Ripple Avenue and Massachusetts Avenue will re-open to vehicle traffic after Labor Day weekend. The pedestrian corridor along Georgia Street between Pennsylvania and Meridian streets will continue to be closed to vehicle traffic.

The department said businesses using parking spaces for outdoor dining have until September 4 to let them know if they still need it. If so, the department will cover the costs for those spots through November 30.

COVID-19 changing the way we respond to disasters. More than two dozen Hoosier first responders are headed south as Hurricane Laura moves closer to the Gulf Coast.

Indiana Task Force 1 is embarking on their first deployment of the year. Twenty-five police officers, firefighters and civilians left last night, and are on their way to stage in Louisiana. It’s a smaller team due to the coronavirus.

Midwest Food Bank is also helping by sending supplies. They are doing this despite still feeling the impacts of the coronavirus.

Early in the pandemic, the food bank was forced to buy food well beyond their yearly budget.

Administrators feared they may not be able to help if a disaster struck, but they are back on track thanks to donations from Eli Lilly and funding from the United Way.

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