Countdown to Election Day: 34 days

Important Indiana Election Dates:

October 5 - 2020 Voter Registration Ends

October 22 - Deadline to Request Mail-In Ballot

November 3 -  General Election Day

November 14 - Military/Overseas Ballots Must be Received (must be postmarked by November 3)

Local, state, and federal highlights in today’s memo include:

  • Senate Passes Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown Hours Before Deadline

  • House Prepares to Advance New Relief Package

  • CMS Updates Testing Methodology for Nursing Homes

  • Treasury Announces Support for Airlines, Aviation Industry Workers

  • U.S. to Start Forgiving PPP Loans

  • Federal Judge Rejects Indiana Absentee Voting Law, Extending Ballot Deadline

  • Coronavirus’ Alarming Impact on the Body

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.


Senate Passes Spending Bill to Avert Shutdown Hours Before Deadline

The Senate on Wednesday passed a short-term funding bill just hours before the deadline to prevent a government shutdown.

Senators voted 84 to 10 to keep the government funded at current levels through Dec. 11, setting up another funding fight after the November elections and right before the holidays. The funding bill, passed by the House earlier this month, now heads to President Trump’s desk, where he is expected to sign it before midnight to keep the government running.

In addition to extending government funding, the bill adds $8 billion in nutrition assistance programs; allows for the farm aid distributed through the Commodity Credit Corporation but with measures sought by Democrats to prohibit payments to fossil fuel refiners and importers; and expands an expiring program providing low-income children with meals to include child care centers impacted by pandemic-related closures. (The Hill)


'One more serious try' on COVID-19 Relief Yields Progress But No Deal

The lead negotiators haggling for another round of emergency coronavirus relief met in person Wednesday for the first time in weeks, with both sides citing headway in the search for an elusive compromise — but no deal to report.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin huddled for roughly 90 minutes in the Speaker’s office in the Capitol, emerging with hopes that an evasive bipartisan agreement is within their grasp.

“We’re gonna go back and do a little more work again,” Mnuchin said. “I think we’ve made a lot of progress in a lot of areas.” Pelosi offered a similar assessment, pointing to unspecified issues where the sides “are seeking further clarification.”

“Our conversation will continue,” she said in a statement.

But Democrats pointed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the wild card in any potential deal. After huddling with Pelosi, Mnuchin walked across the Capitol to update the GOP leader on the negotiations. Speaking to reporters, McConnell poured cold water on the idea of a COVID-19 package passing Congress before the election, citing what he characterized as significant differences between House Democrats and Senate Republicans. 

"We would like to see another rescue package," McConnell said, but dismissed Pelosi's latest proposal as "another massive measure that includes such things as health care for illegal immigrants, tax cuts for rich people in New York and California and other things that are totally unrelated to the coronavirus. 

"So I think it's safe to say we're far apart. I think Secretary Mnuchin and the Speaker are continuing to speak but we're very, very far apart," the Republican leader said. (The Hill)


CMS Updates Testing Methodology for Nursing Homes

Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an update to the methodology the agency employs to determine the rate of Covid-19 positivity in counties across the country. Counties with 20 or fewer tests over 14 days will now move to “green” in the color-coded system of assessing community prevalence. Counties with both fewer than 500 tests and fewer than 2,000 tests per 100,000 residents, and greater than 10 percent positivity over 14 days – which would have been “red” under the previous methodology – will move to “yellow.” This information is critical to nursing homes, which are required to test their staff for COVID-19 at a frequency based on the positivity rate of their respective counties.


Treasury Announces Support for Airlines, Aviation Industry Workers

The Department of the Treasury on Tuesday announced it has closed loans to seven large passenger air carriers under Division A, Title IV, Subtitle A of the CARES Act. The seven air carriers are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Hawaiian Airlines, SkyWest Airlines, and United Airlines. Treasury expects the initial loan amounts will increase as a result of some major airlines determining not to move forward with loans from Treasury due to the availability of financing in the private markets. The reallocation of funds will be subject to a loan concentration limit of $7.5 billion per passenger air carrier, or 30 percent of the $25 billion available for passenger air carriers. This comes after weeks of advocacy and negotiations between the aviation industry and the Trump administration.


U.S. to Start Forgiving PPP Loans

The Treasury Department said Tuesday it would begin forgiving loans granted to small business owners under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), following banks’ and borrowers’ complaints that the process had been bogged down. The government expects to approve and pay forgiveness requests by late this week or early next. The applications are generally expected to be approved quickly, with the exception of loans above $2 million that will get added scrutiny.


Federal Judge Rejects Indiana Absentee Voting Law, Extending Ballot Deadline

A federal judge Tuesday evening rejected Indiana's noon Election Day deadline to receive absentee ballots, allowing Hoosiers more time to mail in absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 presidential election. 

The ruling from Judge Sarah Evans Barker means absentee ballots postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received on or before Nov. 13 will be counted.

Common Cause Indiana, the organization leading the lawsuit, had argued the Nov. 3 noon absentee deadline constituted "an undue burden on the fundamental right to vote" during the coronavirus pandemic, according to court documents. 

Indiana is one of just seven states that require a reason to request an absentee ballot.

There are currently 11 accepted excuses for voting by mail in Indiana, including a voter will be out of the county for the entire time polls are open or has a disability making in-person voting difficult.

The coronavirus pandemic has not been listed as an acceptable excuse. 

Nearly 550,000 voters requested mail-in ballots for the spring primary — more than ten times the number requested in the 2016 presidential primary, according to the court filing.

Democrats and Republican lawmakers have previously clashed over the issue of voting by mail during a pandemic, and the state ultimately decided not to again expand absentee voting for the general election. 

Barker in her decision rejected the argument that allowing an extra 10 days to receive ballots would undermine the election process. (Indy Star)


Coronavirus’ Alarming Impact on the Body

Scientists are racing to learn more about the damage that coronavirus can do to the heart, lungs and brain, Axios' Caitlin Owens writes

  • Why it matters: It’s becoming increasingly clear that some patients struggle with its health consequences — and costs — far longer than a few weeks.

The virus can have a severe impact on the lungs, as you might expect. Pneumonia associated with the disease can damage air sacs in the lungs, and the resulting scar tissue can cause long-term breathing problems.

  • But researchers conducting autopsies have also found evidence of the virus in parts of the brain, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and in the cells that line blood vessels, the Washington Post has reported. They’ve also found clotting in many organs.

  • And problems with the vascular system — the body’s network of blood vessels — ”could unleash a global surge in vascular diseases, from stroke and atherosclerosis to myocarditis and heart attack,” experts wrote in a recent WashPost op-ed.

The bottom line: Even if we manage to get the coronavirus under control, whether that’s through a vaccine or behavior modification, we’re going to be dealing with its effects for a long time. (Axios)


Important Dates

Thursday, October 1 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Thursday, October 1 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Policy Task Force - House Chamber

Monday, October 5 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Assessment Task Force, House Chamber 

Monday, October 5 - 1:30 pm - Environmental Affairs Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 6 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Tuesday, October 6 - 10:00 am - Energy, Utilities, and Telecommunications Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Wednesday, October 7 - 10:00 am - Financial Institutions and Insurance Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, October 7 - 10:00 am - Probate Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Thursday, October 8 -  10:00 am - Fiscal Policy Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, October 8 - 10:00 am - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Room 233

Tuesday, October 13 - 1:30 pm - Legislative Council Audit and Financial Reporting Subcommittee - Room 233

Wednesday, October 14 - 10:00 am - Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Wednesday, October 14 - 12:00 pm - Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, October 15 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Monday, October 19 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Assessment Accommodation Taskforce - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 20 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Wednesday, October 21 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, October 27 - 10:00 am - Employment and Labor Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Thursday, November 12 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber

Thursday, November 19 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - House Chamber


By The Numbers …

COVID-19 Cases

*New cases: 965

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 120,019

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 119,066

Increase in cumulative cases: 953

Increase in cases reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 27,769

Increase in cases reported July 1-Aug. 1: 21,170

Increase in cases reported June 1-July 1: 11,122

Increase in cases reported May 1-June. 1: 16,065

COVID-19 Deaths

New deaths: 20

Total deaths: 3,405

Increase in deaths reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 322

Increase in deaths reported July 1-Aug. 1: 315

Increase in deaths reported June 1-July 1: 480

Increase in deaths reported May 1-June. 1: 914

Increase in deaths reported April 1-May 1: 997

COVID-19 Testing

New tested individuals: 8,898

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Wednesday: 1,379,850

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Tuesday: 1,371,355

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 8,495

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.7%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 7.1%**

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 5.8%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 4.1%**

Increase in unique tested individuals reported Aug. 1-Sept. 1: 325,159

Increase in unique tested individuals reported July 1-Aug. 1: 268,890

Increase in unique tested individuals reported June 1-July 1: 223,820

Increase in unique tested individuals reported May 1-June 1: 166,257

Increase in unique tested individuals reported April 1-May 1: 85,264

** The health department reports the 7-day positivity rates with a six-day lag to allow time for more comprehensive results.

County Numbers

Marion County cumulative cases: 21,671 (increase of 108)

Marion County new deaths: 0

Marion County cumulative deaths: 768

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.7%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,997

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,789

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,383

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,735

Boone County cumulative cases: 1,003

Hancock County cumulative cases: 951

Morgan County cumulative cases: 739

Shelby County cumulative cases: 689

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 36.6%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 11.9%

Available ventilators: 80.2%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 3.3%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Wednesday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 7,194,922

U.S. deaths: 206,252

Global cases: 33,719,865

Global deaths: 1,009,349