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Indiana coronavirus updates for Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Coronavirus updates from Wednesday, Sept. 23.

INDIANAPOLIS — Wednesday's latest updates on the coronavirus pandemic.

State to enter Stage 5 of reopening

Gov. Eric Holcomb and state leaders provided an update on the state response to COVID-19.

The governor said the 7-day positivity rate is hovering around 4 percent, which is a great improvement. The state is also testing around 15,000 people per day.

Holcomb said the state is now ready to enter Stage 5 of the reopening plan. That will begin Saturday Sept. 26 and last through Oct. 17.

Stage 5 changes:

  • A mask mandate will continue.
  • Size limitations will be removed for gatherings and meetings. Organizers of events with more than 500 people will need to submit a written plan to the local health department.
  • Restaurants and bars that serve food can open at full capacity. Appropriate social distancing will need to be maintained. A bar section must have people seated.
  • Bars and nightclubs can open at full capacity. Customers must be seated, and social distancing is required.
  • Indoor and outdoor venues can open at full capacity.
  • Senior centers and congregate nutrition sites may reopen according to FSSA guidance.
  • Personal services, gyms, fitness centers and workout facilities may resume normal operations.
  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities are required to provide visitation opportunities.

State numbers update

The state reports that of the 12,265 Hoosiers needing to be hospitalized 9,284 or 76 percent have been discharged.

Around 6 percent are still hospitalized and 18 percent have died.

The state reports of the 106,303 positive Hoosier cases examined, 89,072 have recovered or 84 percent.  

ISDH gives latest report on COVID-19 in the state

The Indiana State Department of Health reported that there are 728 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and 10 more deaths. 

The total number of Hoosiers who have contracted the virus is more than 113,000. Total deaths have surpassed 3,300. 

A total of 1,916,433 tests, including repeat tests, have been reported to the state Department of Health since Feb. 26.

Indianapolis bars, clubs suing the city for COVID-19 restrictions

More than a dozen Indianapolis bars and clubs are suing the city of Indianapolis over COVID-19 restrictions.

The owners say city leaders are violating their rights by forcing closures and strict capacity requirements, while restaurants have looser restrictions.

Bars are now asking a judge to rule against the city, saying their businesses depend on it. 

The bars and clubs filing the lawsuit include: 

  • Bar Indy LLC: Tiki Bobs Cantina
  • Revel Bar Indy LLC: Invy Nightclub
  • Isentark Entertainment, LLC: Coaches Tavern
  • BEMbars, Inc.: Courtside Convenience (S.O.S. Pub)
  • R&D Companies, Inc.: Joes Grill Castleton
  • Whistle Stop Inn Inc.: The Whistle Stop Inn
  • Classic 46, Inc.: That Place Bar & Grill
  • Tad Indy Inc.: Taps and Dolls, After 6 Lounge, Jokers Comedy Club, 247 Sky Bar
  • New Journey, LLC: Whiskey Business Lawrence
  • I2V, LLC: Whiskey Business Southport
  • Kore Enterprises, Inc.: Average Joe’s Sports Pub, Rock Lobster, Mineshaft Saloon
  • Basey LLC: Basey’s Downtown
  • Milo Entertainment LLC: The Red Room
  • 5135 Holdings Inc.: Mickie’s Pub
  • D & D Lugar Inc.: Sports Page Lounge

The lawsuit is filed against the city of Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett, the Marion County Public Health Department and Dr. Virginia Caine, Director and Chief Health Officer of the Marion County Public Health Department. 

Attorney Richard Bucheri is representing the owners of the 20 businesses.

Latest US, world numbers

There have been more than 6.89 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. as of 3:30 a.m. ET Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins University. There have been more than 200,000 deaths and 2.64 million people recovered.

Worldwide, there have been 31.6 million confirmed cases with more than 970,000 deaths and 21.74 million recoveries.

RELATED: See where confirmed Indiana coronavirus cases are with this interactive map

RELATED: VERIFY: No, the CDC did not say the number of COVID-19 victims who actually died from the virus is much lower than originally reported

The real number of people infected by the virus around the world is believed to be much higher — perhaps 10 times higher in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — given testing limitations and the many mild cases that have gone unreported or unrecognized.

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 like pneumonia, or death.

IPS classes to resume Thursday after Tuesday's internet outage

Indianapolis Public Schools students had a day off from school Tuesday after an internet outage.

The district announced the outage around 9 a.m. After initially announcing schools would operate on a two-hour delay, district leaders canceled the day altogether.

According to an IPS spokesperson, the situation was out of their control. The outage appeared to be spotty with some students able to log on while others could not.

As of 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, IPS announces that the IT issues have been resolved. 

Wednesday, Sept. 23, is a scheduled Parents in Touch (PIT) Day for virtual parent-teacher conferences. There is no remote learning. 

Classes will resume Thursday.

CDC discouraging traditional Halloween trick-or-treating this year due to COVID-19

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued new guidance suggesting that people should avoid traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating for Halloween this year due to the pandemic.

High-risk Halloween activities to avoid

The CDC says that in addition to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, many traditional Halloween activities are what they have considered "high risk" for the spreading of viruses:

  • Having trunk-or-treat events where treats are handed out from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots.
  • Attending crowded costume parties held indoors.
  • Going to an indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming.
  • Going on hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not from your household.
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which may cloud your judgment and increase the possibility of risky behavior.
  • Traveling to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

Moderate-risk Halloween activities to do with caution

The CDC says other Halloween activities, can be considered of "moderate risk," but can be mitigated through proper preparation before or additional care following participation in the event.

They are saying that if you participate in any of these activities, you should exercise caution during and after the activity.

These include:

  • Participating in one-way trick-or-treating, where individually-wrapped goodie bags are lined up for families to grab and go while continuing to social distance (such as at the end of a driveway or at the edge of a yard). Those who are preparing the bags should wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds both before and after doing so, the CDC says.
  • Having a small group, outdoor, open-air costume parade where people are distanced more than 6 feet apart.
  • Attending a costume party held outdoors where protective masks are used and people can remain more than 6 feet apart.

    The CDC emphasizes that a Halloween mask is no substitute for a cloth mask. A costume mask should not be used for protection unless it is made of two or more layers of breathable fabric that covers the nose and mouth and does not leave gaps around the face.

    In addition, a costume mask should not be worn over a cloth mask because the combination may make it difficult to breathe. A Halloween-themed cloth mask would be a better substitute in that instance.

  • Going to an open-air, one-way, walk-through haunted forest where appropriate mask use is enforced, and people can remain more than 6 feet apart. If screaming will likely occur, the agency says, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus.
  • Visiting pumpkin patches or orchards where people use hand sanitizer before touching pumpkins or picking apples, wearing masks is encouraged or enforced, and people are able to maintain social distancing.
  • Having an outdoor Halloween movie night with local family friends, with people spaced at least 6 feet apart. Once again, if screaming will likely occur, greater distancing is advised. The greater the distance, the lower the risk of spreading a respiratory virus. Lower your risk by following CDC’s recommendations on hosting gatherings or cook-outs.

Low-risk Halloween activities to enjoy the holiday safely

Finally, the CDC says they suggest "low-risk" activities for people to participate in, which will not risk the spread of coronavirus and allow everyone to enjoy the holiday safely.

These lower-risk alternatives include:

  • Carving or decorating pumpkins with members of your household and displaying them
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins outside, at a safe distance, with neighbors or friends
  • Decorating your house, apartment, or living space
  • Doing a Halloween scavenger hunt where children are given lists of Halloween-themed things to look for while they walk outdoors from house to house admiring Halloween decorations at a distance
  • Having a virtual Halloween costume contest
  • Having a Halloween movie night with people you live with
  • Having a scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home rather than going house to house.