While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 20

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

Here’s a look:

This morning we will learn more about how the coronavirus affected grocery store workers and America’s food supply.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union will hold its national press call at 10 a.m.

During that call we will hear directly from grocery store workers about some challenges they have faced.

The UFCW has been very vocal over the past few weeks, saying their workers need more support and protection in order to keep food on the table for Americans.

If you’ve been to the grocery store lately, you’ve seen signs that stores are limiting the amount of meat, dairy or other certain food products you can buy.

Meat processing plants are hit hard with infected employees, but many farmers are actually struggling to sell products.

Some of their biggest clients are restaurants and schools, which many have closed down.

Yesterday, President Trump announced a $19 billion coronavirus food assistance program will be given directly to farmers and ranchers as compensation for their losses during the pandemic.

“We are providing $19-billion dollars to support our nation’s agricultural producers, maintain the health of our critical food supply chains and provide food assistance to American families,” President Trump said.

Here’s how the money breaks down: $16 billion will be given directly to farmers and ranchers as compensation for their losses during the pandemic, and the other $3 billion will be used to buy farmers’ products.

President Trump says farmers can apply starting May 26. Payments will be issued shortly after.

Antibody testing is becoming more widely available to learn about the coronavirus. It’s a blood test to see if you have antibodies to the virus. In some cases, people don’t even know they had it.

The best way to get a test is to first call your primary care doctor to see if they offer it. Some private labs offer the test too.

The blood test detects antibodies to show if you already fought off the coronavirus.

Experts believe people who recovered have some protection against reinfection, but this virus is so new, it’s unknown how long that immunity lasts.

Antibodies could show you had COVID-19, but you could get it again. They just don’t know that yet.

Blood test results take 1-3 days.

If your test shows antibodies, your doctor will follow up in three months, six months, and a year to see if you still have antibodies or if they’re gone and you’re at risk of getting COVID-19 again.

If you plan to get an antibody test, first ask what test they’re using and how accurate it is.

Then check with the FDA to see if that test or lab is legit.

The tests run anywhere from $120-$200.

The City of Indianapolis will close five sections of streets in downtown and Broad Ripple to help local shops and restaurants add extra outdoor space for customers while their indoor space is restricted

Bikes are encouraged, but scooters are not allowed on the closed streets. Businesses have to apply for permits to add extra space.

The closures are expected to be in effect by Friday and expected to last until July 4.

We are learning more details about new guidance to lift restrictions inside nursing homes. 

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services laid out its recommendations for facilities.  

CMS divided its reopening recommendations into three phases. 

According to the memo, visitation is allowed in the third phase with screening and additional precautions. That’s if there have been no new cases at a nursing home for 28 days.  

One factor it believes should inform decisions about relaxing restrictions is access to testing.

CMS recommends all nursing home residents should receive a baseline COVID-19 test and staff should be tested weekly.

Zach Cattell, president of the Indiana Health Care Association, views this guidance on testing as a hurdle.

There are other factors CMS suggests states to look into, like adequate staffing and hospital capacity.

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