Indiana coronavirus updates for Tuesday, May 19, 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.

Indy Parks loosens some facility restrictions

Indy Parks is updating restrictions at some of its facilities.

Vehicle traffic will again be allowed at Eagle Creek Park beginning Thursday, May 21. Traffic was restricted in April.

Four dog parks will also open Thursday:

  • Broad Ripple Bark Park
  • Gordon Gilmer Canine Companion Zone (Eagle Creek Park)
  • Paul Ruster Dog Park
  • Smock Dog Park

The Garfield Park Sunken Garden is open daily for visitors. Social distancing is still recommended. Only the park and trail spaces are open. All other amenities remained closed.

US and Canada extend border shutdown

Canada and the U.S. have agreed to extend their agreement to keep border closed to nonessential travel to June 21 during the coronavirus pandemic.

A senior government official confirmed the extension of the agreement, which had been set to expire this week. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for lack of authorization to speak publicly ahead of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's announcement.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said that the U.S. and Canada are doing well in handling the pandemic.

But many Canadians fear a reopening. The U.S. has more confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any country in the world, though its per capita numbers are well below many other nations.

Essential cross-border workers like health care professionals, airline crews and truck drivers are still permitted to cross. Truck drivers are critical as they move food and medical goods in both directions. Much of Canada's food supply comes from or via the U.S.

Americans who are returning to America and Canadians who are returning to Canada are also exempted from the border closure.

Gen Con cancels August convention

Gen Con announced Tuesday that it has canceled its August 2020 convention in Indianapolis.

The convention says with the uncertainty of how this summer will look in regards to the COVID-19 outbreak and keeping in mind the guidance from the CDC, they decided it was best to cancel.

"The safety and health of our attendees, exhibitors, and staff are of the utmost importance to us, and we cannot in good conscience host a gathering of thousands while doing so could threaten the health of so many," Gen Con said in a statement.

Fans who have already purchased a badge for Gen Con 2020 can keep it and it will be honored at Gen Con 2021. Information about requesting a refund can be found here.

Gen Con will return to Indianapolis on Aug. 5-8, 2021.

ISDH daily update

ISDH has announced 481 more cases and 57 more deaths due to COVID-19.

That brings the total number of cases to 28,705 and the total number of deaths to 1,678.

Mayor Hogsett gives update on initiatives to help Marion County restaurants reopen

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and city leaders will outline new measures aimed at assisting Marion County restaurants and other businesses during the current and upcoming phases of reopening.

At a news conference, Hogsett said the city would close portions of five streets to help give space to restaurants for socially distanced outdoor seating:

  • Massachusetts Avenue between College Avenue and Delaware Street
  • Georgia Street between Pennsylvania Street and Illinois Street
  • South Monument Circle (two southern quadrants)
  • Illinois Street between Georgia Street and Market Street
  • Broad Ripple Avenue between College Avenue and the Monon Trail

Restaurants are permitted to open outdoor seating with adequate social distancing beginning Friday, May 22.

For more information about outdoor dining, visit indy.gov/dineout.

Hogsett said there was still no decision made about Indianapolis barbershops and hair salons. He said he an update on those businesses may come as early as next week.

Pelosi criticizes Trump taking hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump said he is taking a malaria drug to protect against the coronavirus, despite warnings from his own government that it should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.

Trump told reporters Monday he has been taking the drug, hydroxychloroquine, and a zinc supplement daily "for about a week and a half now."

Trump has spent weeks pushing hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure or prophylaxis for COVID-19 against the cautionary advice of many of his administration's top medical professionals. The drug has the potential to cause significant side effects in some patients and has not been shown to combat the new coronavirus.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told CNN, "He's our president, and I would rather he not be taking something that has not been approved by the scientists, especially in his age group and his, shall we say, weight group ... morbidly obese, they say."

Trump is 73. At his last full checkup in February 2019 he passed the official threshold for being considered obese, with a body mass index of 30.4. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a BMI of 40 or above is considered "severe" obesity, which some also call "morbid" obesity.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 3:30 a.m. ET Tuesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 90,000 deaths and 283,000 people recovered.

Worldwide, there have been 4.8 million confirmed cases with 318,000 deaths and 1.78 million recovered.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

Mnuchin to face grilling about small-business lending effort

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will likely come under tough questioning from senators Tuesday about a small business lending program included in the government’s $2 trillion relief package.

Lawmakers from both parties have criticized the Payroll Protection Program, which initially provided $349 billion in forgivable loans to small companies but has been plagued by a host of problems.

Many businesses were unable to get loans before the initial funding was exhausted. A second round of loans faced computer processing delays and a number of publicly traded companies ended up receiving money that Mnuchin demanded be paid back to the government.

Despite risks, President Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine

President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Democratic leaders after saying he has been taking the malaria drug he has touted as a treatment for the coronavirus.

Trump told reporters Monday that he's been taking hydroxychloroquine and a zinc supplement daily for a week and a half. Trump's own government says hydroxychloroquine should only be administered for COVID-19 in a hospital or research setting due to potentially fatal side effects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tells CNN that she would rather Trump not be taking something that hasn't been approved by scientists, citing his age and calling the president “morbidly obese.”

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer tells MSNBC that Trump’s remarks are “dangerous.”