Since March, Indy Midtown Magazine has posted regular updates about local response to the public health emergency. This post archives all October 2020 updates. September updates, August updates, July updates, June updates. May updates. April updates. March updates.
In today’s Situation Report [PDF], the Marion County Health Department reports that Marion County’s 7-day average positivity rate of all COVID-19 tests sent to the Indiana Department of Health has been increasing since mid-September (10/01/2020: 5.4%; 10/19/2020: 6.9%). The cumulative percent positive for all cases and test results increased to 10.7% as of 10/19/2020.
Meanwhile, The City of Indianapolis and Visit Indy announced the Ready for Winter grant program will launch October 30. The $1 million reimbursement plan for local businesses is aimed to help establishments affected by COVID-19 public health orders to be reimbursed up to $2,500 for expenses related to winter preparedness. This includes, but is not limited to, the purchase of heaters, outdoor seating capacity, canopies, or other necessary PPE. The online application for reimbursement opens October 30 and will be available until November 20.
A second round of funding for the Music Cities Strategy Recovery Program launched today. The grant program is directed at independent music venues affected by public health orders that mandated cessation of live entertainment in order to stop the spread of COVID-19. Applications are available online. The $150,000 extension of the program was included in the last allocation of CARES Act funding passed by the City-County Council. The program continues to be administered by Musical Family Tree, Inc., and is made possible in part through the Business Ownership Initiative of Indiana. In July 2020, the City and MFT launched the first round of Music Cities Strategy Recovery Program funding, which disbursed $121,675 between 17 applicants. The program is open to independent music venues located within Marion County. Grants are to be used for overhead costs, which may include monthly rent or mortgage payments incurred or paid between March 16 and September 30, 2020, as well as utility payments incurred or paid between March 16 and October 30, 2020. Venues may apply for a grant of up to $15,000 by providing documentation of paid rent/mortgage and utilities expenses. Deadline for applying is October 30, 2020.
Marion County Cases Continue Upward Trend
The Marion County Public Health Department’s regular COVID-19 update [PDF] reports that Marion County’s newly confirmed cases are continuing to increase and the 7-day average positivity rate of all COVID-19 tests sent to the Indiana Department of Health has been increasing since mid-September (10/01/2020: 5.4%; 10/12/2020: 6.3%). The cumulative percent positive for all cases and test results was 10.5% as of 10/12/2020. Public health officials continue to stress that in order to prevent people from becoming sick, it is important to stay home when you can, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others when you go out, and wear a mask when in public!
State Releases Emergency Education Grant Funds
Mayor Joe Hogsett today announced the final budget amounts awarded to Marion County schools and districts by the U.S. Department of Education under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief grant (GEER). The grants will allow schools to ensure students and teachers have the devices and internet connectivity they need for eLearning in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Perry Township Schools and the Indianapolis eLearning Fund requested $11.5 million in grant funds on behalf of Marion County schools. Perry Township will serve as the grant’s fiscal agent. Allocations were determined based on budget requests from schools and districts. The requests were reviewed by Perry Township Schools and the Indiana Department of Education to ensure they complied with the grant criteria.
The eLearning Fund’s advisory committee surveyed Marion County schools and districts during the early weeks of the mandatory school closure and found that of those that responded, more than 25 percent of their total students did not have access to the high-speed internet necessary to engage with eLearning. Additionally, tens of thousands of students lacked laptops, tablets, or mobile hotspots, and many of the most affected students qualified for free and/or reduced-price lunches.
In a statement, IPS superintendent Aleesia Johnson said, “In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to devices and reliable internet service for every single IPS student is not a privilege, it’s a right essential to their academic success. This funding is critical in our ability to ensure the essential equity necessary to fill the gaps, so that IPS students are operating on a level playing field with the same access to high-quality education as their peers in surrounding districts when schools are forced to close and students have to learn remotely.”
GEER Allocation for Midtown Schools
Christ the King Catholic School – $23,544
Immaculate Heart of Mary – $28,138
Indiana School for the Deaf – $20,745
Indianapolis Public Schools – $1,999,376
funds for entire district not just Midtown schools
International School of Indiana – $134,027
Purdue Polytechnic High School – North – $3,399
Saint Joan of Arc – $20,889
The City of Indianapolis has launched an $11 million program to help local restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues. The Hospitality Establishment Lifeline Payment (HELP) grant program reimburses establishments up to $25,000 for rent or mortgage costs incurred between April to December, 2020. Within the $11 million HELP grant fund, $2.5 million will be set aside for minority, women, disability, or veteran-owned businesses. Businesses must submit their application in partnership with their landlord or property owner. The program is being managed by Indy Chamber which will accept applications until November 6. In addition to HELP grants, the City has budgeted $1 million for establishments affected by COVID-19 public health orders to be reimbursed up to $2,500 for expenses related to winter preparedness during the pandemic. This includes the purchase of heaters, outdoor seating capacity, canopies, or other necessary PPE. Details for both programs are available online.
The Marion County Public Health Department reminds residents that to prevent people from becoming sick, it is important to stay home when you can, maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from others when you go out, and wear a mask when in public!
In today’s Situation Report [PDF], the Marion County Health Department reports that Marion County’s 7-day average has been increasing for the past week (currently 13.4 per 100,000 residents). Additionally, the number of new daily ICU admits increased. “Regenstrief Institute’s public COVID-19 dashboard shows a cumulative total of 3,242 (+69) COVID-19 positive patients who have been admitted as of 10/11/2020. The overall (ICU and non-ICU) length of stay was 18.6 days on 10/11/2020. For all COVID-19 positive cases with comorbidity data, the two most common comorbidities are hypertension (all cases: 7%; hospitalized cases: 24%; ICU cases: 23%) and diabetes mellitus (all cases: 5%; hospitalized cases: 18%; ICU cases: 18%).”
The Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) has issued the following public health guidance [PDF], based on current public health orders:
• A costume (Halloween) mask is no substitute for a cloth mask. Do not wear a costume mask over a protective cloth mask because it can be dangerous if the costume makes it hard to breathe.
• In-person social gatherings or parties more than 50 people are not permitted per the current MCPHD public health order.
• Close contact (less than 6 feet), door-to-door trick-or-treating or “trunk-or-treating,” and leaving bowls of candy for others to grab are not recommended,
• Haunted Houses are not recommended unless sufficient monitors inside the facility at entrance/exit areas are provided to make sure there is no lagging or congregating between participants who are members of different households. Close contact between individuals from different households is particularly dangerous in haunted houses because loud voices and screaming can exacerbate the spread of the virus.
• Hayrides or tractor rides with people who are not in your household is not recommended, unless you are able to maintain two feet of distance from other parties and stay masked during the ride.
• Attending indoor Halloween parties is not recommended, particularly if a party is held in a crowded or poorly ventilated area.
IMPD will schedule extra patrols and enforcement in neighborhoods from 6-8 p.m. on Saturday, October 31.
During her most recent media briefing, Marion County Public Health Department (MCPHD) director Dr. Virginia Caine noted that the COVID-19 virus has consistently affected minority communities in greater percentages than white residents. “When we look at the data, the largest population by percentage of people infected is African-Americans,” she said, adding that they are infected at twice the rate of white residents while Latinx infections are three times those of white residents. “When you look at hospitalizations, by far African-Americans have much greater hospitalizations and deaths compared to other racial and ethnic populations.” With the approach of Fall and flu season, Dr. Caine worries, “We might have a double whammy. I need everybody to get your flu shots.”