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Hamilton County became the seventh county in Indiana to top 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 over the last week. However, the county became the fourth-highest in the state in regard to death toll. The county has 90 fatalities. So far, only Marion (480), Lake (140) and Johnson 140 have more.
The numbers are a stark reminder of the important things we all can do during this pandemic. So The Times will continue to review some of the best ways to stay healthy.
Personal Protection - It’s Simple. Wear a mask and wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home when you are sick.
Social Distancing - For most people, the immediate risk of being exposed to the virus that causes COVID-19 is thought to be low. Understand the virus and conduct a self-risk assessment as to whether to attend mass gathering events. If Community Spread of the virus occurs and risk levels elevate, local decisions will be made as to postponing or temporarily suspending large gathering events.
Environmental protections - Increase your efforts to clean and sanitize "high touch" point surfaces with an EPA approved product,   wear disposable gloves as extra layer of protection during cleaning activities and wash hands afterwards.
As for individuals who might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19. based upon available information to date, those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:
People aged 65 years and older
People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility
Other high-risk conditions could include:
People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
People who have serious heart conditions
People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment
People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk
People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk
Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

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HAMILTON COUNTY commissioners and county council have established the Hamilton County Stabilization Fund for Small Businesses to help small local businesses forced to close during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grants of up to $10,000 per business will be awarded based on demonstrated need.
“The grants are meant to help small businesses hit hard by government-mandated shutdowns,” says Councilman Fred Glynn, who brought forth the idea. “Fortunately, because county government is managed in a fiscally responsible manner, we are able to invest back in our community in times of crisis."
Businesses eligible for the Hamilton County Stabilization Fund must:
Be in good standing with regard to state and local taxes, licenses and code compliance.
Be locally owned and not by an out of state corporation.
Be in good standing with the Indiana Secretary of State.
Have been established and operational in Hamilton County for at least the previous six months. Businesses that have expanded to a storefront from another business are eligible (e.g., an established caterer who opened a restaurant or an online retailer who opened a boutique).
Grants can be used for payroll (exclusive of owner compensation), utilities, rent, mortgage payments, insurance, or similar expenses, and products directly used in production of a product for sale. Preference will be given to businesses that have not received abatements or incentives from the federal government, State of Indiana, or any local government entity. Preference will also be given to businesses that made all reasonable efforts to keep employees employed during the pandemic.
Grant applications are due by the close of business on Friday, May 22, 2020. Applications can be found online at https://www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/1629/.
The Hamilton County Stabilization Fund for Small Businesses has limited funding, therefore not all grant requests may be approved or approved at the level requested. Grants recipients will be notified during the week of May 25th. Payments will be disseminated no later than June 9th.

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IF EARLY indications are accurate, it could be a big primary. Since voting by mail is being encouraged for all voters, because of the pandemic, the Hamilton County Elections Office is expecting to receive a record number of absentee ballots by mail. As of last week, the Elections Office had received 23,801 applications for ballots and 10,661 returned completed ballots. 
The Elections Office was still processing the newly registered voters through Wednesday of this week. As of Tuesday, there were 246,218 registered voters in Hamilton County with another 1,830 still in pending with last-minute residents who registered not considered voters until May 12.

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CHARLIE McMILLAN, a candidate for Hamilton County Commissioner, is creating a buzz on the campaign trail. He said his opponent, Steve Dillinger, first went into elected office in 1980, so McMillan put a 1980 Cadillac El Dorado on a truck and is taking it around the county. It has a sign on the window that says: This car was new when my opponent became a politician in 1980. Time for a trade-in, don’t you think?

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WESTFIELD MAYOR Andy Cook, Grand Park Director William Knox and leaders from the IUPUI Sports Innovation Institute recently launched a nationwide study to look at the impact and perceptions of the COVID-19 crisis on youth sports. Specifically, the study will gauge user perceptions of satisfaction and safety at youth sports facilities. The data will be important for venues, event organizers and sports organizations to evaluate facility and procedural modifications over the next 12-18 months.
“We know that one of the biggest challenges to reactivating youth sports in the wake of this pandemic is getting families comfortable with the ‘next’ normal,” said Westfield Mayor Andy Cook. “This research will allow us to hear what families, athletes, coaches, event organizers are thinking and expecting as they return to youth sports. I believe it will validate the lengths we are going to create a safe environment at Grand Park and give other facilities similar data to make decisions.”
“This research will be imperative as we look to safely return to play at Grand Park and other sports facilities in Indiana and beyond,” said William Knox, Director of the Grand Park Sports Campus. “Venue owners and sports organizations need to know what their guests and families need in order to meet and exceed safety expectations. This survey will allow us to go directly to the end user to understand how they expect event staff, athletes and spectators to interact with each other.
The survey, was launched this week and is being sent to parents, youth sports leaders and governing bodies nationwide. We are looking to classify 10-12 adaptations that the sports and event industry is debating making when facilities re-open to understand their attitude toward the proposed modifications. Initial survey results should be available by June 1. Understanding how modifications impact user perceptions of satisfaction and safety are important for venues and events to consider in developing procedural modifications.
The Grand Park Sports Campus has already released its “Step 1 Reopen Strategy,” behavioral guidelines and enhanced sanitation and facility/procedural enhancements and is a leading conversation nationwide on the safest way to restart youth sports.

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JOE RINGER, a senior at Hamilton Heights, signed a letter of intent to cycle for the Lindsey Wilson College Blue Raiders in Columbia, Ky., this fall. Lindsey Wilson College is a member of the Mid-South Conference. He is the son of Chris and Mary Ringer. When Ringer is not on his bike, in the pool, or studying, he can be found creating cycling memes as part of the online Interbikememe community, or chilling at home watching movies that feature his favorite actors (Kevin Costner and Tom Hanks) or listening to music.

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DESPITE THE current status of traffic in our state, reduced by measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, there have been several motorcyclist fatalities on Hoosier highways in the last few weeks. This includes an incident as recently as last week in Lafayette, where a 34-year-old rider was killed when a driver turned left in front of him. This further underscores the need for drivers to share the road with motorcyclists.?Gov. Eric Holcomb has proclaimed May to be Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month in Indiana. Spring weather means that motorcyclists will be on the streets in greater numbers. ABATE of Indiana joins Governor Holcomb and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in urging everyone to share the road. #MotorcyclesAreEverywhere?Save A Life – Be Aware – Motorcycles Are Everywhere

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AND FINALLY this week, if your print subscription to The Times is expiring during the stay-at-home order and you can’t get in to pay, don’t worry. For the duration of the governor’s stay-at-home order, The Times will keep its downtown Noblesville office on the courthouse square closed. The main reason for this is that The Times has walk-in customers who pay their subscription bills in person. A great many of those are over 65 and are in the high-risk demographic for the COVID-19 virus. Until the governor’s stay-at-home order is lifted The Times does not want any of our customers to have to take any chances. Customers can certainly mail their subscription renewals in, but if they would rather drop them off in person then they can rest assured that no subscriptions will be cut off during this health crisis. It is important to The Times that we not cause any of our customers to worry. So for the duration of this health crisis, The Times will not cut off any print subscriptions. So if you are one of the customers who likes to pay your subscription bill in person, do not worry. The Times will continue delivering through this crisis and we’ll look forward to visiting with you in person.