Coronavirus Updates for Tuesday, March 31, 2020

This illustration in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). This virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. (CDC via AP)
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR/TEGNA/AP) — Tuesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Decatur County under local travel warning

Decatur County residents are now under a local travel warning after county officials declared a local disaster emergency amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The warning limits travel in the county to only "the most essential functions," which includes emergency management workers and healthcare or food providers, according to a release from the county Tuesday evening.

Under the warning, people are ordered to refrain from non-essential travel, comply with necessary emergency measures, cooperate with public officials and "obey and comply with the lawful directions of properly identified officers."

Kroger gives frontline workers $2/hour 'hero bonus'

Kroger is rewarding workers who have kept stores moving during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company announced a "hero bonus" for workers in the front lines of their grocery stores, as well as their supply chain, manufacturing, pharmacy and call center employees. The increase is a $2 premium added to their standard base pay rate for hours worked between March 29 and April 18.

The company announced a one-time bonus for frontline employees on March 21. That bonus will pay out on Friday, April 3. The new premium will be paid weekly.

Salvation Army gets $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment

The Salvation Army's Indiana Division is getting help with their coronavirus response from the Lilly Endowment.

The organization announced a $5 million grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc., which they say will support The Salvation Army's immediate response to COVID-19 as well as their long-term service to Hoosiers.

"In times of crisis the Salvation Army is able to spring into action to help even more people through difficult times. We're grateful for how the Salvation Army is helping our nation during this pandemic," said Ronni Kloth, Lilly Endowment's vice president for community development.

The Salvation Army has been providing meals and other essential items for the residents of Indiana during the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to worship services and emergency assistance. The grant will also help with the "next phase of need," including future layoffs and job losses, food shortages and child care needs for Hoosiers.

White House Coronavirus Task Force briefing

The White House Coronavirus Task force is providing a briefing on the national response to COVID-19.

Small biz relief may come as soon as Friday

Small businesses seeking loans through the government's $2 trillion coronavirus relief package could receive money as soon as Friday.

That prediction came Tuesday from senior administration officials who spoke to reporters about details of the loan program.

Companies will be able to submit applications on Friday. With an approval process that's been stripped down from the one used for traditional business loans, money can be available to companies the same day.

The loans are available to small businesses ranging from sole proprietors and freelancers to companies with up to 500 employees.

Dr. Fauci says White House may recommend broader use of masks

Dr. Anthony Fauci said the White House coronavirus task force is looking into the idea of recommending broader, community-wide use of masks to deter the spread of the new coronavirus.

Fauci said the task force first wants to make sure that such a move wouldn’t take away from the supply of masks available to health care workers.

“But once we get in a situation where we have enough masks, I believe there will be some very serious consideration about more broadening this recommendation of using masks,” Fauci said in a CNN interview Tuesday. “We're not there yet, but I think we're close to coming to some determination.”

He said wearing a mask may prevent an infected person from spreading the virus.

Fauci is the director National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a leader of the U.S. response to the pandemic.

President Donald Trump said Monday he could see broader use of masks on a temporary basis.

“I mean, you know, we want our country back. We're not going to be wearing masks forever, but it could be for a short period of time,” Trump said.

The World Health Organization on Monday reiterated its advice that the general population doesn't need to wear masks unless they're sick. Since the epidemic began in China, the WHO has said masks are for the sick and people caring for them.

Governor's update on response

On Tuesday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported 14 more deaths from Monday for a total of 49. The state wanted to clarify that not all of those deaths happened in the last 24 hours, but rather the prior 14 days. Testing to confirm some of those cases can take two week.

Indiana State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said she believes the surge is starting to begin and will increase in the coming weeks.

ISDH is asking every hospital to update daily and soon will request updates twice each day on available beds so the state can direct patients to facilities that can take them.

The Army Corps of Engineers is being asked to help with identifying and setting up field hospitals if there ends up being a shortage of room in established hospitals and facilities. ISDH hopes that isn't needed, but wants to be prepared in case.

The health department is also asking long-term facilities to create specific units to care for residents with COVID-19 that do not require hospitalization.

ISDH cautioned against using chloroquine to try and treat or prevent COVID-19 as it is still in studies to determine if it is effective. It also reduces the supply for people currently taking it for other medical issues.

When asked about his executive order that non-urgent and elective procedures that use personal protective equipment be stopped, including abortions, the governor reiterated that PPE needs to go to the fight against COVID-19 first. He said that unless not providing a procedure put the patient's current health or future health in jeopardy, it should be postponed. The governor's executive order on conserving PPE goes into effect April 1.

The governor will also extend his executive order on carry-out policies to continue social distancing.

When asked about Kentucky's governor ordering no travel out of state except in specific conditions, Gov. Holcomb said he did not anticipate doing something like that at this point.

With the flood of Hoosiers filing for unemployment the state said it is working on a new phone system help address the backlog of calls.

You can watch video of the news conference here:

Planned Parenthood responds to Governor's order

Planned Parenthood has issued a statement following Governor Holcomb's order that would block abortions in the state.

The issue is addressed under a section entitled "Conservation of Personal Protective Equipment."

It states that facilities like abortion clinics are to "cancel or postpone elective and non-urgent surgical or invasive procedures."

The press secretary for the governor's office confirmed to Eyewitness News that includes abortions.

Here's how Planned Parenthood responded:

Planned Parenthood’s top priority is ensuring that every person can continue accessing essential health care, including abortion. Medical experts recognize that abortion is an essential, time-sensitive medical procedure. We are complying with the Governor's Directive, which requires health care providers to stop providing surgeries or invasive procedures that are non-urgent as determined by their medical provider. As Hoosiers do their part during this COVID-19 pandemic, Planned Parenthood is doing our part to conserve needed resources and protect the health and safety of our patients and staff. Together, we’ll meet this challenge, no matter what.

IFD: 12 firefighters test positive for COVID-19

The Indianapolis Fire Department has confirmed that 12 of the department's firefighters have tested positive for COVID-19.

IFD said those firefighters are in home quarantine and will not return to work until they have been medically cleared by a doctor.

IFD Battalion Chief Rita Reith said the other firefighters who may have had close contact with those who tested positive are utilizing the Eli Lilly testing program.

"For those tested, once those results are received, IFD will take appropriate measures in consultation with public health officials," Reith said.

IFD cannot say whether or not the 12 cases are connected, but the firefighters are not from a single station. IFD has over 1,200 firefighters at 43 stations.

To date, approximately 70 firefighters have been tested with 58 coming back negative.

A message from Public Safety officials to the community:

We ask that anyone in the community calling 9-1-1 be forthright with the dispatcher about any flu-like issues they, or any member of their family, may be experiencing – even if the dispatcher does not ask specifically. Public safety agencies have encountered multiple instances where first responders have been called on a non-medical call, only to be told after they've arrived that a member of the family is sick with flu-like symptoms. A second thing we are asking residents when calling for service is to meet us at the door or on the front porch, if they are able. This allows for a quick assessment in an open area and helps reduce risk of unnecessary exposure.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo tests positive

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo announced Tuesday morning that he has tested positive for coronavirus.

Cuomo, the brother of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, explained on Twitter that he had been exposed to people in recent days who then tested positive and he had "fever, chills and shortness of breath."

He said he is quarantined in his basement and plans to continue to do his CNN shows from there. Cuomo added that he hopes he didn't give it to his kids or his wife, because that would make him feel worse than the illness.

SiriusXM free through May 15

SiriusXM has announced the satellite radio service will be free through May 15. Listeners will have access to more than 300 channels, including news, talk show and ad-free music.


In addition to free listening, SiruisXM is adding #StayHomeRadio that will feature easy, uplifting music from artists like Lizzo, Colplay, P!NK and Bob Marley.

Breakdown on Tuesday's positive cases and deaths

The total count for COVID-19 cases stands at 2,159. Of those cases, 51.6 percent are women.

Here's a full breakdown of the age groups making up positive cases:

  • 0-19: 1.4 percent
  • 20-29: 10.4 percent
  • 30-39: 13.9 percent
  • 40-49: 16.1 percent
  • 50-59: 19.3 percent
  • 60-69: 17.9 percent
  • 70-79: 12.6 percent
  • 80+: 8.4 percent

The health department reported 49 deaths. Of those deaths, 65.2 percent were men.

Here's a full breakdown of the age groups making up COVID-19 deaths:

  • 0-19: 0 percent
  • 20-29: 0 percent
  • 30-39: 2 percent
  • 40-49: 0 percent
  • 50-59: 10.2 percent
  • 60-69: 22.4 percent
  • 70-79: 26.5 percent
  • 80+: 38.8 percent

Goodwill launches emergency fund for employees, students and families

The Goodwill Foundation of Central & Southern Indiana has started a fund to help thousands of employees, students and families who depend on Goodwill for everyday necessities.

The COVID-19 Emergency Fund will help those vulnerable populations with immediate relief. Visit goodwillindy.org/donatenow to donate.

The Goodwill Foundation will match donations up to $500,000. The foundation will give $2 for every $1 donated.

ISDH confirms 14 more deaths, 373 new positive cases of coronavirus

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 373 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state.

As of Tuesday morning, 2,159 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

ISDH reports 14 more people died, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 49.

The new deaths occured in the following counties:

  • Decatur — 1
  • Elkhart — 1
  • Hancock — 1 (total at 2)
  • Lake — 4 (total at 5)
  • Marion — 5 (total at 17)
  • Ripley — 1
  • Warren — 1

1,715 more people were tested for coronavirus on Monday, bringing the overall total to 13, 373.

Walmart announces additional steps for worker, customer safety

Walmart has announced it will be taking additional health and safety measures to keep its workers safe amid the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter on the Walmart website, the company said it would begin taking the temperatures of associates as they come to work. Employees running a temperatures of 100 degrees or higher will be paid for reporting to work and asked to go home. The company has also ordered masks and gloves for employees to use.

"As our company and country continue to deal with the spread of COVID-19, we remain focused on the health and safety of our associates." John Furner, President & CEO said in a statement.

More than 164,000 cases, 3,000 deaths in US

There are 164,274 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States as of midnight ET Tuesday morning, according to Johns Hopkins University. 3,164 people have died and 5,847 have recovered.

Worldwide, 785,709 people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19, with 37,810 deaths and 165,837 people recovered.

China warns epidemic isn't over for their country

Chinese officials say the coronavirus epidemic isn’t over in their country and that daunting challenges remain.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday that authorities need to make sure that infected people arriving from abroad don’t spread the disease and start new outbreaks.

She hit back at U.S. criticism of her country’s handling of the epidemic, saying that China and the U.S. should work together to fight it.

WHO warns 'far from over' in Asia and Pacific

The World Health Organization warns that while attention has shifted to epicenters in Western Europe and North America, COVID-19 epidemics are “far from over" in Asia and the Pacific.

Urging governments at all levels in the region to stay engaged in efforts to combat the virus, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, Dr. Takeshi Kasai says, "This is going to be a long-term battle and we cannot let down our guard. We need every country to keep responding according to their local situation.”

He said the WHO realizes there is no one-size-fits-all approach but there are common tactics. "Those are: finding, isolating and testing cases early, tracing and quarantining contact quickly, and putting in place multiple public health interventions to place physical distance between people to slow and stop transmission."

Japan extends travel warnings to 49 countries

Japan has extended its highest travel warnings to 49 countries, including the United States, Canada and Britain, as well as all of China and South Korea.

The country is urging Japanese citizens not to visit places where coronavirus infections are escalating, the foreign ministry said in a statement Tuesday. The ministry also said returnees and visitors from those nations will be tested for the virus at airports when they arrive and requested to self-quarantine at home or designated facilities for 14 days.

The number of confirmed cases among people arriving at Tokyo's international airports has surged recently, officials said, citing them as the main sources of infections in Japan.

Japan now has about 2,700 confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, including 712 from a cruise ship, with 67 deaths.

Wimbledon canceled?

German Tennis Federation vice-president Dirk Hordorff says an announcement is coming Wednesday that Wimbledon will be canceled.

"There is no doubt about it. This is necessary in the current situation," Hordorff told Sky Sports Germany.

The tournament is scheduled to start June 29.

It would be the first cancellation for the tournament for a reason other than war. It was not held in 1915-1918 because of World War I and in 1940-1945 due to World War II.

The French Open announced two weeks ago it was moving its tournament from May to the end of September.

NCAA gives extra year of eligibility to spring athletes

The NCAA will permit Division I spring-sport athletes — such as baseball, softball and lacrosse players — who had their seasons shortened by the coronavirus pandemic to have an additional year of eligibility.

The NCAA Division I Council voted Monday to give spring-sport athletes, regardless of their year in school, a way to get back the season they lost, but it did not guarantee financial aid to the current crop of seniors if they return to play next year.

Winter sports, such as basketball and hockey, were not included in the decision because many athletes in those sports had completed all or most of their regular seasons, the council decided.