Indiana coronavirus updates for Thursday, March 26, 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) — Thursday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

Trump says feds developing new guidelines for virus risk

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says federal officials are developing guidelines to rate counties by risk of virus spread.

Trump wants to begin easing nationwide guidelines meant to stem the coronavirus outbreak.

In a letter Thursday to the nation's governors, Trump says the new guidelines are meant to enable state and local leaders to make “decisions about maintaining, increasing, or relaxing social distancing and other measures they have put in place.”

States would still have authority to set restrictions.

Trump says he will visit Norfolk, Virginia, on Saturday to see off the USNS Comfort, the 1,000-bed hospital ship heading to New York.

Trump camp threatens local TV stations over Democratic ad

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump's reelection campaign is threatening legal action against local TV stations in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin if they don't pull a Democratic anti-Trump commercial the campaign says is false.

Priorities USA Action Fund responded by soliciting financial contributions to keep the 30-second ad on the airwaves.

The campaign says the commercial includes the “false assertion” that Trump called the coronavirus a “hoax.”

The ad strings together audio of comments by Trump, including of him saying, “This is their new hoax.”

The states where the ad is airing are among those where Trump is spending heavily to win reelection.

President Trump, Coronavirus Task Force to give White House briefing

President Trump tweeted Thursday morning that he will be giving a live news conference from the White House at 5 p.m. ET to discuss the "meeting of the G20 Leaders."


Carmel closing golf courses

Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard ordered golf courses in the city to be closed.

“The governor made an exception for golf courses, but the number of COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County is far higher than the state average, so I issued this order today under the authority I have to limit non-essential travel,” said Mayor Brainard. “In other words, travel to golf courses, except for walking, is prohibited. Maintenance of golf courses is still allowed.”

Mayor Brainard said he closed the golf courses because golfers are touching flags, using carts, retrieving balls from cups – which poses a problem because the COVID-19 virus can live on these kinds of surfaces for up to three days.

The city is working with the golf course managers on appropriate protocols. The order may be able to be relaxed if proper protocols are instituted.

Great Wolf Lodge extends temporary closure

Great Wolf Lodge announced Thursday it will extend the closure of its resorts through May 19.

A full refund will be given to any guest with a current reservation for the new closure period. Those people can also reschedule their reservation to a future date. If they do reschedule in 2020they will get a complimentary $50 resort credit for each night booked.

HSE staff test positive for COVID-19

Hamilton Southeastern reports two staff members have tested positive for COVID-19.

One worked at Southeastern High School and the other worked in various buildings.

The last known date these individuals had potential contact with anyone in the district was on March 13.

Fourteen days for the symptoms to present would then be Friday, March 27.

As a result, HSE encourages people to look for symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Body Aches
  • Shortness of Breath

Governor's update

Governor Eric Holcomb gave an update on the state's coronavirus response Thursday afternoon.

The Indiana State Department of Health stressed that people need to social distance even when they go out in the nice weather.

The governor has waived the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits and work is being done to expand who can receive benefits.

Federal changes are allowing for Independent contractors, self-employed, and those with limited work experience to apply for benefits. Additional changes are an additional 13 weeks on top of the current 26 weeks of benefits. There will also be an increase in the amount of benefits you receive for a 4-month period.

It takes about 21 days for processing and work is being done in Indiana to update symptoms to process claims more quickly and handle a surge in claims.

Steak 'n Shake offering discounted meals for essential workers

Steak 'n Shake is starting a new campaign to show appreciation for all the people who still have to work during the stay-at-home order.

The #WereAllEssential program offers discounted meals for essential workers through April 7.

Whether you’re a doctor, a cashier, a flight attendant, or a grocery store clerk, everyone plays a significant role during times like these. Today, we’re proud to launch the #WereAllEssential program, designed to recognize and support the thousands of people across the country who are selflessly working jobs in designated “essential services” in order to keep America running during these challenging times. ⁣ ⁣ To show our appreciation for our country’s essential workers, starting today through April 7, 2020 we’re offering 20% off any Steakburger and/or order of Fries. Simply mention at the time of ordering and show any form of job I.D., such as a business card, badge or name tag to redeem. ⁣ ⁣ We’re also offering new or extended deals for all Americans because, let’s face it, by staying at home we’re also doing our part. Order online for takeout or drive-thru and enjoy the following specials to add some yum to our Shelter in Place: ⁣ ⁣ • Our Family 4 Pack Meal Deals fuel the whole crew with delicious comfort and familiarity. Available every day, all day. Order 4 Double ‘n Cheese Steakburgers, 4 small fries, 4 regular soft drinks for just $19.99.⁣ ⁣ • Enjoy Half Price Happy Hour for half off all of our 23 Classic or Specialty Hand-dipped Milkshakes or drinks from 2pm to 5pm, Monday - Friday. ⁣ ⁣ Because collectively we’re all part of the solution. At Steak ‘n Shake, #WereAllEssential.

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All workers need to do is mention their job, show an ID, and they'll get 20 percent off any steakburger or fries.

The restaurant is also offering deals for regular customers, including a four-pack family meal for $19.99 and half-price milkshakes from 2-5 p.m. on weekdays.

Indy 500 postponed

The Indianapolis 500 has been moved to Aug. 23 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Grand Prix will transition to Saturday, July 4 on the IMS road course.

On-track action in August will begin at IMS with practice sessions Aug. 12-13, followed by Fast Friday on Aug. 14 and Indianapolis 500 Qualifications Aug. 15-16.

All concerts initially set for race weekend have been canceled.

Fans who made concert-specific purchases will be able to access a credit for any IMS event, including the Indy 500, or choose to receive a refund.

Indianapolis COVID-19 community resources

Indianapolis has updated its COVID-19 Community Resources page with more than a dozen new tools, assets, and community supports.

The page is meant to help connect individuals, businesses, and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic with community resources.

Some of the resources include food, child care, utilities, small business and worker support.

Carmel closes portion of Monon Trail, Midtown Plaza

Mayor Jim Brainard has called to close the Monon Trail between Gradle Drive and Main Street. It will closed until further notice.

Seating and equipment at the Midtown Plaza is also being removed to deter people from gathering there. Many on Wednesday flocked to the Greenway, ignoring social distancing instructions, Brainard said.

The city will put up signs to indicate the closures. Carmel Police will enforce the new measures.

Noblesville Fire official tests positive

An official with the Noblesville Fire Department has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a statement from Noblesville Mayor Chris Jensen.

"We are working with local officials to ensure anyone who may have been in close contact with this person is notified," Jensen said. "We are confident that our public safety and operational officials are taking appropriate action as we work to manage this evolving public health situation."

The statement did not include any other informaton about the official, including his name or official title.

Franklin College changes admission requirements

The school is transitioning to a test-optional admissions process for the rest of this school year since many students are not able to tak SAT or ACT tests due to the coronavirus.

Students will be assessed based upon high school grades, letters of recommendation, personal essays, extracurricular activities, leadership experience and visits to the college or with staff.

For students who are admitted, their tuition deposit fee will be cut in half. Admitted students can secure their spot with the class of 2024 with a deposit of $100 instead of the typical $200.

ISDH confirms 3 more deaths, 168 new positive cases of coronavirus

The Indiana State Department of Health reports 168 new positive cases of COVID-19 in the state.

As of Thursday morning, 645 people have tested positive for coronavirus.

ISDH reports three more people died, bringing the total number of deaths in the state to 17. The new deaths occurred in Franklin County, Jasper County and Putnam County.

1,295 more people were tested for coronavirus on Monday, bringing the overall total to 4,651.

Steph Curry hosting Q&A session with Dr. Fauci

The Golden State Warriors star is holding a question and answer session with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Fauci has played a major role in leading the United States' fight against the novel coronavirus. Thursday, he'll appear on Curry's Instagram page to answer any questions people may have about the virus.

The public is encouraged to ask questions on Twitter using the hashtag #SCASKSFAUCI, or on Curry's Instagram story.

The Q&A session will begin at 1 p.m. ET.

Americans break record for unemployment applications

A record-high number of people applied for unemployment benefits last week as layoffs engulfed the United States in the face of a near-total economic shutdown caused by the coronavirus.

The surge in weekly applications for benefits far exceeded the previous record set in 1982.

McDonald's suspends all-day breakfast

McDonald's is temporarily halting its all-day breakfast menu to simplify its operations, according to USA TODAY.

The fast-food company says the move was made to make things simpler for its crews during the pandemic.

McDonald's has closed all its seating and play areas in its company-owned U.S. restaurants.

Weekly new unemployment claims expected to shatter record

U.S. Department of Labor figures to be released Thursday are expected to shatter the old record for the greatest number of new unemployment claims filed in a single week. There are more suddenly jobless Americans than during the Great Recession.

Some economists project that the U.S. could see around 3 million new unemployment insurance claims when figures are released for the week of March 15-21. That would be around 12 times as many as the previous week.

In Labor Department records dating to 1967, the largest seasonally adjusted one-week number of new unemployment insurance claims was 695,000 in October 1982, when the national unemployment rate was around 10 percent.

Before coronavirus concerns escalated this month, the U.S. unemployment rate had been at a 50-year low of 3.5 percent.

Senate passes rescue bill

The Senate has passed an unparalleled $2.2 trillion economic rescue package steering aid to businesses, workers and healthcare systems engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 883-page measure is the largest economic relief bill in U.S. history. The unanimous vote comes despite misgivings on both sides about whether it goes too far or not far enough.

The bill would provide one-time direct payments to Americans of $1,200 per adult making up to $75,000 a year, and $2,400 to a married couple making up to $150,000, with $500 payments per child.

A huge cash infusion for hospitals expecting a flood of COVID-19 patients grew during the talks to an estimated $130 billion. Another $45 billion would fund additional relief through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for local response efforts and community services.

US death toll passes 1,000

New York authorities mobilized to head off a public health disaster with the city's emergence as the nation's biggest coronavirus hot spot a warning flare — and perhaps a cautionary tale for the country.

U.S. deaths from the pandemic topped 1,000 Wednesday night, according to Johns Hopkins University. Approximately 25 percent of those were in New York City.

Health officials in New York hunted down beds and equipment and put out a call for more doctors and nurses for fear the number of sick will overwhelm hospitals, as has happened in Italy and Spain.