Since March, Indy Midtown Magazine has posted regular updates about local response to the public health emergency. This post archives all August 2020 updates. July updates, June updates. May updates. April updates. March updates.
With the August 14 expiration of the state’s rental property eviction moratorium and ban on utility disconnections, the City of Indianapolis Office of Public Health and Safety reminds Marion County residents there are resources available. The Indianapolis City-County Council approved an additional $7.5 million in rental assistance out of federal funds provided to the city through the CARES Act. This allocation extends support to tenants seeking rental assistance through the City’s rental assistance portal. Unfortunately, the program is oversubscribed and unable to accept any more applications at this time.
As part of the City’s tenants’ rights initiative, Indiana Legal Services offers legal assistance to tenants. Tenants facing issues with housing conditions, who are facing an eviction, or whose landlords have accepted rental assistance program funds but have not complied with the program terms should contact the Tenant Information Hotline at 317-327-2228. Midtown-based Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is also a resource for free tenant legal assistance.
In today’s media briefing, Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) director was blunt. “The education and warning period is over.” Fines of up to $1,500 a day await businesses and venues that are found in violation of the public health order mandating masks and social distancing.
After issuing her July 9 public health order, MCPHD inspectors took an educational approach and issued warnings to violators and if necessary, followed up with $50 fines. “It didn’t have an impact,” Dr. Caine said. “So, no warnings this time. No $50 fines. We immediately go to $1,000 fines. We need to get your attention.” She added, “If they’re flouting our recommendations for the safety of this community, we will close this business.”
The new Public Health Order goes into effect at 12:00 a.m. on August 14. Highlights include:
- Bars and nightclubs must remain closed. This includes 21 and over establishments that did not have a food menu before March 1, 2020
- All-ages restaurants limited to 50% indoor and outdoor capacity.
- Full menu, age-restricted restaurants limited to 25% capacity indoors
- Table service required for all indoor dining. No bar service permitted
- Masks required when not eating or drinking
Additional inspectors will deployed to respond to complaints. Report violations by calling 317 221 5500 during business hours or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Caine was quick to temper expectations of a rapid response to complaints. “Don’t think something will happen immediately, it requires a thorough investigation by us.”
Testing has ramped up with nearly 2,500 tests administered daily which Dr. Caine said was important for determining how widespread the disease is. Results indicate a decline in emergency room visits for patients exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms and a decline in both hospital admissions and deaths.
The number of positive cases in Marion County is trending downward, too, she said. However, the 20-29 age group was singled out. “We’re seeing a much greater younger population making the bulk of our cases.”
In addition, testing results continue to demonstrate that communities of color are hardest hit. Hispanic females and males have the highest rates followed by Black/African-American females and males.
Today’s Situation Report from the Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) indicates that 15,963 cases and 725 deaths have been reported from March 6 to August 9. MCPHD estimates that Marion County will have a total of 16,600 or more confirmed cases by Saturday, August 15 when ISDH updates its case counts. Marion County emergency department (ED) visits with COVID-19-Like Illness (CLI) were flat last week after a four week increase. During Week 32 (August 02 – August 08), 1.5% of visits to Marion County ED had CLI (Previous week: 1.8%). Those 65 years old and older had the highest age-specific percent of CLI (2.18%) (Appendix A). The 7-day average of confirmed positive test rates has been increasing since the start of July (07/01/2020: 5.1%; 08/03/2020: 9.2%). The cumulative percent positive for all cases and test results was similar to last week at 11.7% (08/02/2020: 11.9%).
Tonight, Mayor Joe Hogsett will submit his 2021 budget proposal to the City-Council. In addition, he will request an additional $16.3 million in Coronavirus relief funding. The request includes
- $7.5 million for rental assistance program
- $300,000 supplemental completion grants for students at Ivy Tech and IUPUI whose ability to afford college has been threatened by the pandemic.
- $1.1 million in additional adult education funding for those who need to re-train or transition to other employment
- $150,000 for re-entry financial coaching/credit repair program
- Nearly $80,000 for temporary housing and intervention/education efforts
for victims of domestic violence.
While the City of Indianapolis has received $168 million in COVID relief funds, the Mayor’s staff said it was “woefully insufficient” to address all of the needs the community has. For example, applications for rental assistance announced earlier this year drained the $15 million fund in 72 hours. Thousands remain on the waiting list which is why the Mayor is requesting an additional $7.5 million even though his team acknowledges it will be insufficient to address the actual need.
According to current federal guidelines, the entire $168 million must be used for COVID-related expenses by December 31, 2020, but cannot be used to address any budgetary issues stemming from reduced revenue streams.
The Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) reports a slight increase in COVID-19 case counts, with the number of new cases per 100 tested rising from 7.3 on July 12 to 8.6 on July 26. Today’s Situation Report states that Marion County emergency department (ED) visits with COVID-19-Like Illness (CLI) were flat last week after a four week increase. During Week 31 (July 26 – August 01), 1.8% of visits to Marion County ED had CLI (Previous week: 1.8%). Those 65 years old and older had the highest age-specific percent CLI (3.68%). The confirmed positive rate 7-day average has been slightly increasing since the start of July (07/01/2020: 5.1%; 07/27/2020: 9.0%). The cumulative percent positive for all cases and test results was similar to last week at 11.9% (07/26/2020: 12.1%). Among cases with demographic information available, the most affected subpopulations have been females (1,541 per 100,000 population), ages 80 and older (3,364 per 100,000 population), and African American or Black (1,060 per 100,000 population). The subpopulations with the highest death rate from COVID-19 have been males (84 per 100,000 population), ages 80 and older (1,175 per 100,000 population), and African American or Black (92 per 100,000 population).
Marion County continues to see an increase in the number of positive cases according to data compiled by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. COVID-19 United States Cases by County – Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center