BY THE NUMBERS
Number of Statewide Cases: 6,907 (+556)
Marion County Cases: 2,600 (+185)
Hamilton County Cases: 431 (+36)
Johnson County Cases: 270 (+22)
US Cases: 466,396 (+33,962)
Global Cases: 1.62M
Number of Statewide Deaths: 300 (+55)
Number of Marion County Deaths: 107 (+26)
US Deaths: 16,703 (+1,895)
Global Deaths: 97,039
Number of Hoosiers Filed for Unemployment: 133,639 as of 4/4/20
A New Job for Mitch Daniels?
In a New York Times article, Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam and other Republicans believe Mr. Trump should look into creating a recovery team and installing “the economic equivalent of Dr. Fauci” as its leader. Asked whom he had in mind, Mr. Haslam suggested Mitch Daniels, who previously served as the governor of Indiana, the head of the Office of Management and Budget and as chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. A number of senators are also pushing for a sort of economic task force to complement the virus task force.
White House Says No “Surprise Billing” for COVID-19 Patients
Hospitals taking money from the $2 trillion stimulus bill will have to agree not to send “surprise” medical bills to patients treated for COVID-19, the White House said Thursday. Surprise bills typically happen when a patient with health insurance gets treated at an out-of-network emergency room, or when an out-of-network doctor assists with a hospital procedure. They can run from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands. Before the coronavirus outbreak, lawmakers in Congress had pledged to curtail the practice, but prospects for such legislation now seem highly uncertain. Indiana lawmakers debated legislation this year that would have banned most surprise billing, but passed a weaker law that mandates providers give patients a good-faith estimate of costs at least five days ahead of a procedure. The stimulus bill includes $100 billion for the healthcare system, to ease the cash crunch created by the mass cancellation of elective procedures in preparation to receive coronavirus patients. Release of the first $30 billion, aimed at hospitals, is expected soon. The prohibition on surprise billing will protect patients covered by 2
government programs, employer plans or self-purchased insurance. Hospitals that accept the grants will have to certify that they won’t try to collect more money than the patient would have otherwise owed if the medical attention had been provided in-network.
Federal Banking Regulators Issue Interim Final Rule for Paycheck Protection Program Facility
Released yesterday, the interim final rule encourages lending to small businesses through PPP. The rule also neutralizes the regulatory capital impact of participating in the Fed’s PPP facility, as there is no credit or market risk associated with PPP loans. A zero percent risk weight applies to loans covered by the program. The rule, attached, is effective immediately. Public comments will be accepted for 30 days after publication in the Federal Register.
Treasury and IRS Extend Over 300 Tax Filing, Payment, and Administrative Deadlines
Yesterday, the Treasury and the IRS extended deadlines for several administrative acts under the tax law. Tax filing and payment deadlines were extended for fiscal year businesses, tax-exempt organizations, and certain estates and trusts. All deadlines have been postponed to July 15. More information is here.
IRS Releases Guidance Under CARES for Taxpayers with Net Operating Losses
Issued yesterday, the guidance waives the carryback period for net operating losses (NOLs) in a taxable year beginning after December 31, 2017, and before January 1, 2021. The guidance also removes certain foreign income subject to a transition tax from inclusion as income during the five-year carryback period. The guidance also waives, reduces, or revokes an election to waive a carryback period for a taxable year that began before January 1, 2018, and ended after December 31, 2017. Taxpayers are also granted a six month extension for filing NOL forms under the guidance.
Education Secretary Announces More than $6 Billion in Emergency Cash Grants for College Students
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced the emergency cash grants in a press release Thursday. The funding is available through the Higher Education Relief Fund authorized by the CARES Act. Colleges and universities will be authorized to provide cash grants to students for expenses related to course materials and technology, food, housing, healthcare, and childcare. To access the funds, higher education institutions must provide the Department of Education with a signed certification affirming they will distribute the funds in accordance with the law. Allocation levels and guidance on such will be made available to institutions in the coming weeks.
NIH Begins Clinical Trial On Hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has begun a clinical trial to determine the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. The trial plans to enroll more than 500 adults currently hospitalized with the virus. All participants will continue to receive clinical care 3
and randomized participants will also be given the drug. Hydroxychloroquine is used to treat malaria and rheumatoid conditions such as arthritis, though the drug has demonstrated antiviral capability in various studies. More information is here.
FDA Issues Best Practices for Safe Food Handling and Employee Health
The guidance provides information and best practices for retail food stores, restaurants, and pick-up and delivery services. Both documents related to the guidance are here.
U.S. Gig Workers, Self-Employed Face Delays in Jobless Aid
After Rich Cruse saw about $3,000 in income for his photography business quickly disappear due to the coronavirus, he tried to apply for unemployment benefits in California. But like many states, his state isn’t yet accepting claims from the self-employed like him. That’s left Cruse, 58, earning just meager pay driving for Uber Eats near San Diego. And he worries about the health risks. “I wear a mask and am practically eating hand sanitizer,” he said. “It’s not what I am supposed to be doing.” Even as nearly 17 million Americans have sought unemployment benefits in the past three weeks—a record high, by far—millions of people appear to be falling through the cracks. They can’t get through jammed phone systems or finish their applications on overloaded websites. Or they’re confused about whether or how to apply. And now there is a whole new category of people—gig workers, independent contractors and self-employed people like Cruse. The federal government’s $2.2 trillion economic relief package for the first time extended unemployment aid to cover those workers when they lose their jobs. Yet most states have yet to update their systems to process these applications. For workers with traditional jobs, state unemployment agencies can use their employers’ tax records to confirm that they’re employed and determine their earnings history to set their benefit levels. Those workers are eligible in part because their companies pay into state unemployment funds. By contrast, self-employed and gig workers typically haven’t contributed to unemployment funds. And neither have the online platforms that they work through. Now that they’re eligible for jobless benefits, those workers will have to provide paperwork to document their incomes. Compounding the challenges, the federal government is providing an additional $600 per week of jobless aid beyond what states provide. This federal money must be routed through the states—another new responsibility. All of this takes time, which means money can’t get to the jobless recipients very quickly.
Executive Order Signed Dealing with Teacher Evaluations
Indiana has changed the requirements for evaluating teachers this year, offering districts unprecedented flexibility as school buildings remain closed because of the coronavirus. In an executive order signed Friday morning, Gov. Eric Holcomb gave district leaders two options. Teachers can keep their evaluation from 2018-19, as long as they aren’t on an improvement plan. Or, administrators can give teachers a new evaluation that will skip a few requirements that 4
would be difficult or impossible to complete given the closures. Executive Order 20-20 can be found here.
March Tax Revenue Misses Projections by 7%
Revenue for the state of Indiana came in $70 million lower than expected in March, with a decrease in sales taxes accounting for the largest portion of the discrepancy. The March revenue report, released Friday afternoon, showed sales tax revenue was $25.2 million lower than projections, missing the mark by about 4%. Sales tax revenue makes up roughly 50% of state tax collections. Other revenue sources also were lower than expected in March. Corporate taxes were down $17.9 million below the monthly estimate; individual income taxes were $9.2 million below projections; gambling taxes missed by $13.5 million; and other taxes were $4.2 million below the monthly estimate. Overall, tax revenue was 6% lower than predicted. But the budget is still slightly ahead of estimates for the year. Year-to-date, the state expected to have collected $11.37 billion by now, and it has collected $11.4 billion. All of the estimates are based on the budget forecast from December. The state typically conducts two budget forecasts every year—one in December and one in April. State budget officials are preparing for the April monthly revenue report to be worse than March’s report, though, as most of the economic impact from the coronavirus likely won’t show up until then because of a delay in when taxes are remitted to the state. “We know the descent will be steep and rapid,” said Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnson said Friday afternoon. “What we don’t know is how fast the recovery will be.” In April, the state was projected to collect nearly $2.2 billion in taxes. “Going into the April-to-June period, significant monthly fluctuations are expected, and deviations from monthly estimates are likely as the rapidly changing economic outlook will most likely impact monthly collections starting in April,” the monthly revenue report says. “Additional uncertainty will be introduced, particularly with individual income tax and corporate taxes, with the alignment of Indiana’s tax filing and payment due date with the federal deferral to July 15.” The major economic changes have prompted questions over whether the state will need a new budget forecast to have a better idea of what to expect in the months ahead, but state officials have not taken that step yet.
Deaths at Anderson Nursing Home Climb to 24
Twenty-four residents have died at an assisted living facility in Anderson, Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box announced Friday—up from 11 residents just four days ago.
Box, speaking at the state’s daily press conference, said 16 of the Bethany Pointe Health Campus residents who died tested positive for COVID-19. The other eight who died showed the same symptoms. Box announced April 6 that 11 residents had died and more than 20 people at the facility had tested positive, including three employees. The facility, 1707 Bethany Road, is owned by Louisville-based Trilogy Health Services. Box said the state was continuing to expand health care strike teams to test and treat residents at senior living facilities throughout Indiana.
Another nursing home in Indiana that had a similar outbreak announced Friday that three more residents have died, bringing the total number of resident deaths to seven. 5
Versiti Seeks Plasma from Recovered COVID-19 Patients
Indianapolis-based Versiti Blood Center of Indiana is looking for recovered COVID-19 patients to give the “gift of life,” by donating plasma. Versiti says recovered COVID-19 plasma donations are filled with potentially life-saving antibodies.
Telehealth Services to Get Federal Funding
Federal officials are urging – and will help fund – an expansion of telemedicine services during the coronavirus pandemic. “We don't want people going to brick-and-mortar health care facilities that don't need the level of care provided there. You can receive quality care right on your phone,” Brendan Carr, a commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission, said during a video conference call Wednesday with Indiana news media. “Think about it as the health care equivalent of shifting from Blockbuster to Netflix,” Carr said. He and Sen. Todd Young, R-Ind., touted the FCC's $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program, part of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package approved last month by Congress and signed by President Donald Trump. Carr said the program will be open to applications as early as this week. Funds will be granted for the purchase of telecommunications devices, services and related medical equipment used for patient care by nonprofit hospitals, teaching hospitals and medical schools, community health and mental health centers, local health departments, rural health clinics and skilled nursing facilities. The money will help pay for the remote diagnosis, treatment and monitoring of all medical conditions, Carr said, including mental illnesses. Eligibility and application information is available in a public notice for WC Docket No. 20-89 at docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DA-20-394A1.pdf. The FCC's published order on the program states that the agency has “a strong interest in targeting funding towards areas that have been hardest hit by COVID-19.” As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Indiana ranked 15th nationally with 5,507 cases of the new coronavirus, according to data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nine states had each reported at least 14,000 cases, led by New York's nearly 139,000.
Links to all executive orders may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm
Link to the Stay-At-Home Order FAQ may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm
More information may be found at the ISDH website at in.gov/coronavirus/ and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.