In recent weeks, attention around the world has turned from managing the spread of coronavirus to how to safely reopen our communities. While we must remain vigilant in combatting and minimizing its spread through social distancing and personal protective equipment and must aggressively pursue effective treatments and preventative measures, finding our “new normal” is top of mind. In this newsletter, I outline the guidelines provided by our nation’s top health experts on how to reopen ALL states safely as well as Indiana’s reopening plans. ?
Earlier last month, I was honored to be asked by President Trump to serve on the Opening Up America Again Congressional Group to provide advice and counsel on actions needed to safely open and restart the economy following the COVID-19 public health emergency. This bipartisan group consists of 65 Senators and 30 members of the House of Representatives, 15 Republicans and 15 Democrats. ?Last Monday, we submitted our ideas in writing to the White House. Yesterday, the group had our second phone conference with the President. I look forward to continuing these crucial conversations, as I am sure feedback is needed from Congress now more than ever.
Last Friday, Governor Holcomb unveiled his roadmap to safely reopen Indiana over the next two months while protecting the health and safety of vulnerable Hoosiers.
REOPEN PRINCIPLES ?There are the four guiding principles that will determine if stages to reopen various sectors of the economy will move forward:
The number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days
The state retains its surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators
The state retains the ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic, as well as healthcare workers, essential workers, first responders and others as delineated on the ISDH website
Health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and complete contact tracing
If we cannot meet these principles, all or portions of the state may need to pause on moving forward, or we may return to an earlier stage of the governor’s stay-at-home order.
Indiana will employ a three-pronged approach to detect the virus through robust testing, trace identified cases to prevent its spread, and protect Hoosiers as they return to work and the economy by developing a steady supply line of personal protective equipment (PPE).
At the outset of COVID-19, the Indiana State Department of Health is deployed strike teams to quickly respond to suspected cases in high-risk congregate settings and to test individuals as indicated. These teams will continue to play a vital role in keeping Indiana on track through surveillance, early testing, and cohorting.
To help in the early detection of new cases, the state is adding 50 testing locations in strategically located parts of the state. These sites will enable over 100,000 more Hoosiers to get tested per month and aid in the early detection of new cases.
Additional testing sites at hospitals, local health departments, and other facilities will continue, and more sites will be added in the coming weeks.
Hoosier employers, employees, and consumers can be confident that anyone who is symptomatic for COVID-19, or who is a close contact of a positive individual, will have access to testing.
Identifying cases through expanded testing, via partner company Optum, is only part of the plan to stay ahead of COVID-19. Indiana will also aggressively track new cases through a centralized contact tracing program to help stop the future spread of the virus.
While ISDH, in cooperation with local health departments, has engaged in contact tracing since the first positive case of COVID-19 was reported in early March, centralizing contact tracing moving forward will enable the state to ensure all future cases are handled and data collected in a uniform and timely fashion.
All Hoosiers who test positive in the future will receive a text, an email, and complete a call with one of the more than 500 contact tracers in the state, via partner company Maximus. These tracers will identify other Hoosiers potentially at risk and connect them to resources to assist with their quarantine or isolation. ?
Supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) are critical for businesses as they resume operations, with masks particularly in demand. The state is working with Hoosier companies that have already converted their lines of work to protective equipment or currently supply such materials.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) will lead the development of the Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace to provide reliable access to PPE for small businesses that need help to comply with safe workplace guidelines.
Businesses and non-profit entities with less than 150 employees and registered to do business in Indiana will be eligible. More details will be outlined in the coming days.
$300 million will be distributed to counties, cities, and towns via a population-based formula from the Coronavirus Relief Fund for reimbursement of COVID-19 expenses. Funds may be used for expenditures caused by the public health emergency as outlined in U.S. Treasury guidelines. If local governments direct any of their allocation for local business, it must be used for PPE at this time. Future program phases are under development.
INDIANA SMALL BUSINESS PPE MARKETPLACE?Along with announcing the Back on Track plan, the Governor also announced the creation of the Indiana Small Business PPE Marketplace through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).?The marketplace will connect small business and nonprofit organizations with PPE so they can safely reopen.?To qualify an organization must:
Be registered to do business in Indiana with the Indiana Secretary of State.
Employ less than 150 associates.
Be an organization that must use PPE to reopen and comply with safe workplace requirements.
Restaurants, retail stores, personal services, and office environments.?The marketplace will provide PPE in bundles, which will include masks, hand sanitizer, and face shields. Currently, the marketplace will fulfill 10,000 requests for PPE bundles and that number will rise as supplies are replenished.
5 STAGES TO GET INDIANA BACK ON TRACK.?STAGE 1 (March 24-May 3)?In this phase, essential manufacturing, construction, infrastructure, government, business and other critical operations remain open. Schools remain closed. ?
STAGE 2 (Began May 4)
Stage 2 began on May 4 for most counties, except Marion and Lake Counties who begin Stage 2 on May 11. Cass County can start Stage 2 on May 18. The stage includes: Those 65 and older or high-risk should remain at home as much as possible. Social gatherings can increase to 25 people. Restaurants can open at 50% capacity starting May 11. Essential travel restrictions will be lifted. Remaining manufacturers that were not considered essential will be able to open. Retail and commercial businesses will open at 50% capacity. ?STAGE 3 (Beginning May 24)?In this stage, those who are high-risk may venture out, cautiously. Those who can work remotely should continue to do so. Social gatherings of up to 100 people may occur. Retail stores and malls can go up to 75% capacity. Movie theaters can operate at 50% capacity. ?STAGE 4 (Beginning June 14)?In stage 4, face coverings will be optional. Zoos and museums can open at 50% capacity. Social gatherings of up to 250 will be allowed. State government buildings will reopen to the public. Office employees can resume work at full capacity. Retail can open at full capacity. Dining service can open at 75% capacity. Recreational sports and leagues can resume. ?STAGE 5 (July 4 and beyond) ?At Stage 5, the state will determine how to approach the next school year. Retail stores and malls may operate at full capacity. Restaurants, bars, and nightclubs may operate at full capacity. Personal services may open at full capacity. Restrictions are lifted at gyms and fitness facilities. Conventions, sports events, fairs, festivals, the state fair, and like events may resume.
All Indiana businesses should take measures and institute safeguards to ensure a safe environment for their employees, customers, and clients. This includes any business that has remained open during the Stay-at-Home order, as well as those opening to employees and customers in the coming days and weeks.?General Guidelines For All Businesses
Manufacturing and Industrial
Office Settings
Gyms, Fitness Centers and Similar Facilities
Personal Services
During these challenging times, religious entities, faith communities, and religious leaders have been working together to provide safe ways to serve and encourage their communities. This updated guidance provides recommendations for places of worship as they plan for services and operations during the next stages of Indiana’s reopening.?In Governor Holcomb’s Stay-At-Home orders, religious entities, groups, and facilities have been deemed “essential.” Both the United States Constitution and the Indiana Constitution protect the right of Hoosiers to worship and freely exercise their religion. The purpose of this guidance is not to restrict religious liberty, but to provide recommendations to places of worship and encourage safe environments during these extraordinary times.?Places of worship should continue using livestream, virtual services, and drive-in services. Faith communities and religious leaders quickly adapted to these alternative services, which continue to be recommended practices.?In conclusion, please continue to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times. ?We will do our best to continue to provide helpful resources and updated information. As always, feel free to be contact my office with any questions or comments you may have.

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