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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Indiana Amvets conference leads to COVID-19 outbreak; three Amvets posts shut down

The Indiana Department of Amvets has sent out warnings urging all who attended the fall conference 14 days ago to get tested for the coronavirus.

INDIANAPOLIS — A veterans organization is under a health emergency.

13 Investigates has confirmed a conference held two weeks ago in Indianapolis has led to a major outbreak of COVID-19.

13 Investigates reporter Sandra Chapman also reports some Amvets posts across the state have been temporarily shutting down.

The Indiana Department of Amvets has sent out warnings urging all who attended the fall conference 14 days ago to get tested for the coronavirus. 13 Investigates has learned  members and even command staff are sick.

The Amvets conference was held at the Wyndham Hotel on Executive Drive near the old airport the weekend of September 25. Between 80 and 90 people were in attendance. Within days and during COVID-19's 14-day incubation period, people started getting sick.

How many? Amvets won't say. But enough people have been diagnosed to prompt three Amvets posts to temporarily shut down for deep cleaning.

Those posts include:

Post 99 - 2840 Lafayette Road, Indianapolis
Post 12 - 7621 N. State Road 3, Muncie
Post  23 - 902 S. Walnut, Hartford City

Joseph Burton, the judge advocate for the organization, told 13 Investigates eight or nine people were diagnosed with the virus. But sources with knowledge of the outbreak say it's double that number when spouses and family members are included.

Burton insists those who attended the conference took the recommended precautions.

"We were very diligent in social distancing. We wore masks," he said.

According to Burton, state health agencies were also notified. He said the outbreak is particularly troubling because its membership includes a number of seniors. Those over 65 are at higher risk of serious disease.

Amvets is a service organization for veterans. It is known for picking up household donations across the community and selling the items and using the proceeds to provide services to veterans.

"We have canceled all future meetings until this matter is under control. Our thoughts and prayers go out to our members and their families for the trials they're going through," Burton told 13 Investigates.

13 Investigates reached out to the State Department of Health about the outbreak, but has yet to hear back.

Brent Hartman, director of sales and marketing for Wyndham Hotel, provided the following statement on behalf of the hotel:

"The safety of our guest and team members remain our top priority. We are saddened to learn that some attendees at an event last month have tested positive for COVID-19. Our hotel has carefully followed and continues to follow protocols outlined by the Marion County Public Health Department and we continue to enforce increased sanitation, social distancing, and mask requirements among other efforts.

"While we have advised all team members of this incident, and provided guidance for testing, no staff are experiencing symptoms at this time. We will continue to work with Marion County and appropriate authorities as we monitor this situation."