With the changes made by the Indiana Election Commission, Hamilton County Clerk Kathy Kreag Williams is urging registered voters to vote by absentee mail.
According to news out of the courthouse, voters will need to send in an application by Thursday, May 21 in order for a ballot to be mailed to you. The applications are on the county web site at www.hamiltoncounty.in.gov or you may call (317) 776-8476 to request an application.
Once you have voted, you can submit your application by fax, by mail or by email. All mailed-in ballots must be received by the Election Office on or before noon on Election Day.
At the state, in a continuing effort to slow the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Gov. Eric J. Holcomb has announced additional efforts, including new guidance for child care.
“There is a critical need for child care for those workers who are taking care of others and helping Hoosiers keep food and supplies in their homes,” Holcomb said. “We appreciate all of the efforts Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick and FSSA Secretary Dr. Jen Sullivan and their staffs have worked on jointly to create more child care options for parents.”
Here are other actions the State of Indiana has taken:
The Indiana State Department of Education (DOE) and Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA) have teamed to encourage school corporations in Indiana to open schools on a limited basis to provide child care services for emergency workers and others who are working to keep communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday, FSSA provided new guidance for child care operators who are licensed by the state. Here is the link: https://www.in.gov/fssa/carefinder/5761.htm
Today, DOE provided similar guidance to school corporations to care for the school age children of essential workers. The guidance provides specific steps for schools to take to open school facilities as well as how to maintain a safe environment. https://www.doe.in.gov/sites/default/files/news/child-care-recommendation-essential-personnel.pdf
§  Among precautions for school district officials, the steps include collecting child health records, allowing extra time for deep cleaning, prohibiting staff who are in high-risk categories from providing the care, and keeping groups of students in separate areas of the building.
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) has spoken to more than 1,000 businesses and economic development agencies in the last five days about ways to continue supporting the state’s economy as well as its front-line COVID-19 pandemic response workers.
More than 135 companies have been fully vetted as being able to help, including RV and auto manufacturers that are switching lines to help make shields, masks and other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Multiple companies – including Subaru, Heritage Group and Summit MMI – have come together to donate thousands of PPE. Restaurants and companies have donated thousands of gloves.
Office of Community and Rural Affairs announced Community Development Block Grant funds may be redirected to assist with COVID-19 needs based on guidance from the United States Housing and Urban Development. This program could help fund projects such as mobile testing areas or economic assistance packages for small businesses.
More information may be found at the ISDH website at in.gov/coronavirus/ and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
PRIMARY ELECTION
As for the upcoming primary, Hoosiers will be able to vote remotely if they choose. The primary was already moved from May 5th to June 2nd. The state’s election commission approved the following:
Moves all election dates by 28 days.
Avoids reprinting ballots and other forms that have the May 5th, 2020 date.
Allows everyone to cast an absentee ballot by mail without having a specific reason to do so.
Grandfathers applications already received for an absentee ballot, which did not state an excuse permitting the person to vote by mail.
Permits county election boards to conduct meetings electronically rather than in person.
Encourages counties to appoint medical professionals to act as traveling absentee boards to help voters confined in medical facilities to cast a ballot.
Permits family members and caregivers of a confined voter to personally deliver and return a ballot.
Allows county election boards to consolidate voting locations and vote center sites and to take spacing measures to ensure the safety of voters.
Loosens restrictions on students who wish to serve as poll workers or absentee board members.
Allows county election boards to begin expeditiously counting ballots at 6 a.m. on Election Day.
Advises county election boards that election results must be determined by 3 p.m. on June 12th. 
“As we take precautions to protect Hoosiers from the threat of COVID-19, it is vitally important to protect citizens’ right to vote,” said Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson. “I am pleased that our bi-partisan recommendations have been adopted, and I thank the Indiana Election Commission for their expeditious work. With these changes, I am confident our primary will move forward with minimal disruption.”
Eligible Hoosiers can register to vote online, check their registration status, and request an absentee ballot by visiting www.IndianaVoters.com.
KROGER
Kroger associates are on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis, ensuring Americans have access to food, services and other products during this unprecedented pandemic. The company now plans additional steps designed to protect the health and safety of our associates and customers. As a result, Kroger shoppers may soon see associates wearing protective masks and gloves.?Personal protective equipment is in short supply across the country, and we fully support America’s health care workers having first priority to obtain it. We are asking government officials at all levels for help securing a priority place for all grocery workers -- after health care workers -- to have access to protective masks and gloves.?Soon, Kroger will begin installing plexiglass partitions at many cash registers, to further promote physical distancing. Many stores in the Kroger Family of Companies will begin the installation process this week. The partitions will be installed at every checklane, pharmacy counter and Starbucks register in our stores. We are also installing educational floor decals to promote physical distancing at checklanes and other counters.?Kroger continues to enhance its daily sanitation practices, including increased cleaning of commonly used areas such as cashier stations, self-checkouts, credit card terminals, food service counters and shelves.?These and other recently announced steps will help Kroger ensure the safety of associates and help our communities flatten the curve while at the same time meeting our obligation to be there for our customers.
IEDC HOTLINE
The Indiana Economic Development Corporation’s business and industry hotline is receiving a high volume of inquiries. We are working to respond to these inquiries as soon as possible to provide insight or guidance on essential businesses based on Gov. Holcomb's Executive Order 20-08 issued March 23, 2020.?This Executive Order mandates Hoosiers remain in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety. The order is in effect from March 25 to April 7.?We urge businesses, employees and the general public to please review the details and resources provided below:?If you’re an employee, please check with the leadership of your company for any additional information regarding whether they qualify as an essential or non-essential business.?If you are a business/employer please review Gov. Holcomb's Executive Order, which outlines essential functions. Essential businesses are outlined beginning on page 5.?We understand that while the Executive Order highlights a wide variety of businesses, it does not address every type of business or industry. We encourage businesses to review the Executive Order and to consider if their service or product meets the basic threshold of an essential business, which: ?Contributes to the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and essential businesses deemed essential in the Executive Order.?The primary purpose of the Governor's Executive Order is to protect Hoosiers and request they remain at home to combat the spread of COVID-19. While not every service or business is explicitly outlined, we recommend businesses take a "common sense" approach to determining if your business contributes to the safety, sanitation and essential operation of residences and businesses deemed essential. ?Employees of essential businesses are not required to provide any documentation. Law enforcement will not be stopping drivers on their way to and from work, traveling for an essential activity such as going to the grocery store, or just taking a walk. ?For non-essential businesses and Hoosiers impacted by this ongoing public health emergency, we encourage you to visit iedc.in.gov/response to explore resources available to you. ?General questions from the public or healthcare provider inquiries about COVID-19 may be directed to the ISDH COVID-19 Call Center at the toll-free number 877-826-0011 (available 24/7) or email epiresource@isdh.in.gov.
HHS GRANTS
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults. Indiana received a grant for $4,672,826.
The Families First Coronavirus Response Act, signed into law by President Trump on March 18, 2020, provided the additional funding for the nutrition services programs authorized by the Older Americans Act (OAA) of 1965. These programs provide meals to more than 2.4 million older adults each year, both through home delivery and in places like community centers. The need for these services, particularly home-delivered and packaged meals, has increased as community measures to slow transmission of COVID-19 have closed meal sites and have left many family caregivers unable to assist their older loved ones.
“The Trump Administration recognizes that the measures needed to protect older Americans from the serious threat of COVID-19 have been disruptive for many of our most vulnerable,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “Getting more funds to community organizations that deliver meals to older adults, such as Meals on Wheels, is another example of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-government, whole-of-America approach to combating the COVID-19 pandemic.”
In addition to meals, Older Americans Act programs provide a wide range of services, such as help with bathing and dressing, rides to doctors’ offices, education on managing chronic illnesses, support for family caregivers, and much more. Provided by a network of community-based organizations, such as Area Agencies on Aging, local community and senior centers, faith-based organizations, and other non-profit service providers, these programs work together to help millions of older adults each year stay healthy and continue living independently.
“The network of community-based organizations that provide Older Americans Act services has an exceptional capacity to coordinate services, bring together service providers, and adapt to overcome challenges, and they are employing innovative solutions to continue meal services,” said ACL Administrator Lance Robertson. “This additional funding will help communities across the country provide older adults, especially those at greatest risk, with the healthy meals they need.”
Funding has been provided to states, territories, and tribes for subsequent allocation to local meal providers. Grant amounts are determined based on the population-based formulas defined in the Older Americans Act.
Older adults who need assistance can contact the Eldercare Locator to find services available in their community. The Eldercare Locator can be reached at 1-800-677-1116 or https://eldercare.acl.gov/.
For more information about COVID-19, please visit : https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html. For more information about the Older Americans Act nutrition programs, please visit ACL.gov.
VECTREN
Vectren, a CenterPoint Energy company, continues to be committed to providing its customers throughout Indiana and Ohio with safe and reliable service during the current Coronavirus situation. During this challenging time, Vectren is committed to serving its customers and keeping them informed as the situation continues to evolve.?Vectren’s natural gas and electric crews will continue to provide service by responding to calls and completing work orders. There are a number of system reliability projects that will continue to be worked, and the disruption to customers during those times will be minimal. If you see Vectren crews performing work, please avoid approaching them and continue to practice social distancing.?Vectren will continue to support those customers who may need payment assistance, arrangements or extensions during the Coronavirus situation. In addition, the company has temporarily suspended natural gas and electric service disconnections for nonpayment. There have been reports of scams following the COVID-19 outbreak, so customers are reminded that Vectren would never call and demand payment over the phone or by prepaid debit card to avoid disconnection. Customers who would like to discuss payment options should call 1-800-227-1376.?As states continue to issue stay-at-home orders and customers are spending more time at home, energy consumption will increase beyond normal usage. To assist in lowering usage, Vectren encourages customers to take advantage of our energy efficiency tools and resources. Visit Vectren.com/saveenergy for information.?“We are committed to the safety and well-being of our customers, employees, contractors and communities as the Coronavirus situation continues to evolve,” said Lynnae Wilson, chief business officer, Indiana Electric. “Vectren has activated its Pandemic Preparedness Plan and we continue to monitor updates and follow protocols from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO) and state and local officials. We are also working closely with all regulatory agencies, government entities and emergency management organizations across our service territory.”?Vectren has implemented additional measures to protect the safety and health of its customers, employees and contractors, as well as to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus. These safety measures include:?• Equipping employees with hand sanitizer in their vehicles as well as latex gloves and shoe covers – in addition to standard personal protective equipment (PPE);?• Directing field employees to attempt to resolve service issues without entering homes or businesses;?• Following social distancing guidelines and wearing PPE if entering customers’ homes and businesses to provide service;?• Implementing a telework approach for employees who can perform their job responsibilities from home or a remote location;?• Increasing cleaning and disinfecting frequency of facilities and vehicles;?• Leveraging technology to minimize face-to-face contact and meetings; and?• Emphasizing good hygiene, including washing and sanitizing hands.
WITHAM
Due to the significant rise in viral illness activity in our community, temporary entry restrictions are in effect for the safety and well-being of our patients and staff.
Beginning Thursday, March 26, patients will be screened upon entry using a screening questionnaire and temporal body temperature. Patients will only be able to enter through the hospital’s main entrance from 5:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and the emergency room entrance 24/7. All other entrances will be closed until further notice. There will be staff available to help transport and direct patients to other areas of the hospital and building for their appointments.
No visitors will be admitted with the exception of: end of life care, special circumstances, Labor, Delivery and Post-Partum Unit (One pre-determined visitor will be allowed).
Witham Health Services apologizes for the inconvenience to our patients and visitors, but we know the restrictions are necessary to protect and provide a safe environment for our immune-compromised patients and for our staff. The restrictions remain in effect until further notice.
INDIANA SHERIFFS
Indiana Sheriffs Youth Ranch leaders are closely monitoring the Coronavirus pandemic and following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s guidance – both at their local departments and at their not-for-profit academy now under development for future law enforcement and at-risk kids. ?“We value the health and wellbeing of our volunteer board of sheriffs statewide, as well as our adult and teenage supporters across Indiana,” said Executive Director Scott Minier. “It is vitally important we all follow the recommendations of Gov. Holcomb, so we can prevent spread of this deadly virus and return to work, school and church. For now, our Sheriffs’ Youth Ranch is postponing all of our spring and summer public events and fundraisers.”