Countdown to Election Day: 47 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:

  • CDC Director Says Coronavirus Vaccines Won’t Be Widely Available Until the Middle of Next Year; POTUS Disagrees

  • Heard on the Hill: COVID-19 Relief Package Updates

  • Heard on the Hill: Continuing Resolution on Government Funding

  • Federal Government Releases Plan on How it Will Roll Out COVID-19 Vaccine When its Available

  • U.S. Senator Mike Braun Won’t Support Help for Indiana State Budget

  • Council Imposes Penalties on Vendors that Don’t Meet Minority-Contracting Goals

  • Eli Lilly Reports Positive Results from Phase II Clinical Trial

  • Yay, Sports - Big Ten, Indy Eleven Updates, NCAA Basketball

  • Leaving the Jobs Behind

  • City Announces Plan for Remaining $76M in Pandemic Relief Funds

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.


CDC Director Says Coronavirus Vaccines Won’t be Widely Available Until the Middle of Next Year; POTUS Disagrees

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted Wednesday that most of the American public will not have access to a vaccine against the novel coronavirus until late spring or summer of next year.

At a Senate hearing on the government’s response to the pandemic, CDC director Robert Redfield adhered to President Trump’s oft-stated desire for a safe and effective vaccine to become available in November or December — perhaps just before the presidential election seven weeks away.

But Redfield said the vaccine will be provided first to people most vulnerable to COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, and supplies will increase over time, so Americans who are a lower priority for the protection will be offered the shot more gradually. For it to be “fully available to the American public, so we begin to take advantage of vaccine to get back to our regular life,” he said, “I think we are probably looking at the late second quarter, third quarter 2021.”

Though any individual vaccinated should benefit, he said, the progressive widening of its availability means there will be a time lag between when a vaccine is approved and when it could have a measurable effect in controlling the pandemic. That might be six to nine months after the day it is approved by federal drug regulators, Redfield predicted.

He said that lag reinforces the importance of safety measures, such as keeping a proper distance, washing hands and wearing masks. “I might even go so far as to say that this face mask is more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine,” because the vaccine is unlikely to produce the desired immune response in everyone who gets it. (The Hill)

Later, President Trump repeatedly contradicted one of his top health officials, saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield was wrong about the timeline for a possible coronavirus vaccine and the efficacy of wearing masks. 

Trump insisted at a press conference that Redfield made a “mistake” when he stated in testimony earlier on Wednesday that a potential coronavirus vaccine would not be available to the general public until at least mid-2021. 

Trump also said that he disagreed with Redfield’s remark at the hearing that masks may be more effective than a vaccine in protecting individuals from the virus, again asserting that the CDC director made a “mistake.”

Trump insisted that Redfield was confused on both topics, and said he called the health official to register his disagreement sometime earlier Wednesday.  (The Hill)


Heard on the Hill: COVID-19 Relief Package Updates

President Trump on Wednesday shook up the high-stakes debate over coronavirus relief, undercutting the Republicans' long-held position by urging GOP leaders to go big.  

Senate Republicans had initially offered a $1.1 trillion emergency aid package, but subsequently voted on a proposal providing just $650 billion — only $350 billion of it in new funding. 

Democrats have howled at the GOP’s “emaciated” offer, arguing that it falls far short of the funding needed to address the dual crises of health and economy caused by the deadly coronavirus. 

On Wednesday morning, Trump stunned Washington by joining those Democratic critics in calling for Republicans to seek much more funding than they’ve previously proposed. He suggested it would not only provide relief to those struggling but would also stimulate the domestic economy at large.  (The Hill)

Meanwhile, Senators say the chances of a group of centrist Republicans and Democrats coming together on a compromise coronavirus relief package is slim to none because of pressure from the leadership of their respective parties.

Centrist senators who would ordinarily be expected to be having sideline negotiations say there’s been little activity despite the apparent collapse of talks between the White House and Democratic leaders. 

They say that’s because the leadership on both sides of the aisle have frozen the possibility of rump-group talks less than two months before elections in which future control of the Senate will be decided. 

Republican senators say that Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) has told his Democratic colleagues not to undercut their leadership by working on side deals with the GOP. 

“The bigger problem here is Sen. Schumer has decided there shouldn’t be negotiations. Right now, we’re not even in the position of even talking to rank-and-file Democrats because they’ve been told not to negotiate,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, which has jurisdiction over the popular Paycheck Protection Program.

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said the Senate Democratic leadership has “crushed” any attempts to negotiate separately with rank-and-file Democrats on scaled-down relief measures.

A $500 billion to $700 billion proposal, which included $105 billion to help colleges and schools resume classes and $300 per week federal unemployment assistance, failed to get a single Democratic vote last week.   

One centrist Democratic senator interested in passing coronavirus relief legislation in the next several weeks said in contrast to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Schumer hasn’t given colleagues a green light to put together their own proposal. (The Hill)


Heard on the Hill: Continuing Resolution on Government Funding

According to Politico, when it comes to government funding, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer confirmed they’re aiming to put a continuing resolution on the House floor next week, giving Congress ample time before the Sept. 30 funding deadline. In the Senate, Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby said they’re considering a CR that lasts through Dec. 18, though some Dems are pushing for February. And Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said he wants to attach a one-year highway extension to the CR.


Federal Government Releases Plan on How it Will Roll Out COVID-19 Vaccine When its Available

The federal government is outlining a sweeping plan to make COVID-19 vaccines available for free to all Americans, but polls show a strong undercurrent of skepticism across the country. 

In a report Wednesday to Congress and an accompanying “playbook” for states and localities, federal health agencies and the Defense Department are sketching out complex plans for a vaccination campaign to begin gradually in January or later this year, eventually ramping up to reach any American who wants a shot. 

According to The Associated Press, facets of the playbook include:

  • Most COVID-19 vaccines will require two shots to be taken three to four weeks apart. Those who receive these vaccines will need to receive doses made by the same drugmaker.

  • Early in the vaccination campaign, supplies will be limited and will be reserved for health care and other essential workers, as well as vulnerable groups. Later phases of the campaign would expand distribution to the entire country.

  • The vaccine will be free to those who receive it, thanks to funding allocated by Congress and the Trump administration.

States and local communities will handle distributing the vaccine, and must submit plans to the federal government in about a month's time. (The Denver Channel)


U.S. Senator Mike Braun Won’t Support Help for Indiana State Budget

U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) says he’ll be “disappointed” if the federal government provides any financial support for state and local government budgets in future COVID-19 relief packages.

State budget officials project Indiana will have a $1 billion hole in its budget by the end of the current fiscal year, even with the state’s significant financial reserves. They’ve repeatedly asked for federal help, including by loosening restrictions on existing federal CARES Act funding.

That’s in part why the state still hasn’t spent more than half of that money – although that’s not what Braun thinks.

“I think we’re sitting on all the money that was given to us by the federal government because we have not had to use it,” Braun said.

Braun was asked directly why he doesn’t support the kind of help Gov. Eric Holcomb and state officials have requested.

“We will make it through it based upon how we’ve lived our life in a responsible way, as a state government,” Braun said.

The governor has already cut higher education funding and asked state agencies to slash their budgets by 15 percent.

Braun said he doesn't support further COVID-19 federal relief that goes beyond what the Senate GOP passed last week. (Indiana Public Media)


Council Imposes Penalties on Vendors that Don’t Meet Minority-Contracting Goals

The Indianapolis City-County Council on Monday approved a measure that gives teeth to the city’s minority-contracting program.

Proposal No. 231 amends the code governing the Office of Minority-Owned and Women-Owned Business Enterprise to strengthen oversight of bidder commitments to meeting city expectations regarding the utilization of minority-owned firms.

The changes would allow officials to withhold payments from vendors, terminate their contracts or disbar them from future city contracts if they don’t comply with the program.

The council voted 20-5 along party lines to approve the changes, with the Republican caucus casting the no votes.

The proposal calls for conducting a disparity study every five years and creating a utilization plan for minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned and veteran-owned businesses based on the disparity study’s results. Every city and county contract would be subject to adhering to the utilization plan.

Currently, city code calls for utilizing minority-owned, women-owned, disabled-owned and veteran-owned businesses (also known as XBE) for public works projects and procurement of goods and services for at least 27% of the dollars spent—15% for minority-owned, 8% for women-owned, 1% for disabled-owned and 3% for veteran-owned.

The goals have been in place for a long time but are not regularly updated, and there has been no ramifications for vendors or contractors that fail to meet those goals. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Eli Lilly Reports Positive Results from Phase II Clinical Trial

Eli Lilly has reported positive results from its Phase II clinical trial that indicates its antibody treatment has shown a reduced rate of hospitalization for COVID-19 patients. The company’s treatment, LY-CoV555, is a monoclonal antibody made from a copy of an antibody produced by a patient who recovered from the virus. Please note, the announcement was not accompanied by detailed data and independent scientists have not yet reviewed the results, which have also not yet been published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

According to Eli Lilly, 452 newly diagnosed patients received the antibody or a placebo treatment. Roughly 1.7 percent of those who received the antibody treatment were hospitalized, compared to 6 percent of participants who received the placebo, accounting for a 72 percent reduction in hospitalizations.


Yay, Sports - Big Ten and Indy Eleven Updates

The Big Ten Conference said Wednesday that it will try to play football as soon as the weekend of Oct. 23-24, stepping back from its leadership’s decision just more than a month ago not to compete this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The move by chancellors and presidents representing the Big Ten’s 14 universities will quell some of the pressure — from prominent coaches, parents, players, fans and even President Trump — faced by the first Power 5 league to drop plans for football in 2020. But it is also likely to provoke new outrage from those who will believe the league is prioritizing profits, entertainment and a measure of public relations peace over health and safety.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, the league said players, coaches, trainers and others who are on playing and practice fields would undergo daily testing for the virus, and that any player who tested positive would be barred from games for at least 21 days.

The conference also said that a team would stop practice and competition for at least a week if it recorded a positivity rate of at least 5 percent. (New York Times)

In Indianapolis, the Marion County Public Health Department is limiting capacity for Indy Eleven’s remaining home games to 2,500 people, following an IBJ report Tuesday about the inconsistent attendance limits for sporting events at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Indy Eleven, which have not had a hard capacity limit yet this season, have averaged nearly 5,500 fans per game since kicking off at home in July. The Colts announced Sept. 4 an agreement with the health department that limits attendance for at least the first home game—on Sunday—to no more than 2,500 ticketholders.

In a statement to IBJ, the health department said since the Colts are required to have a capacity limit, so too are the Indy Eleven.

“MCPHD recently asked the Indianapolis Colts to limit attendance at Lucas Oil Stadium to 2,500 people, and is extending this same limit of 2,500 spectators to Indy Eleven, who play home games at the same facility,” the statement said. “The trends in COVID-19 data continue to be monitored and may allow changes in the number of spectators that can attend in the future.”

The health department did not say specifically why or how it reached its decision to limit the Eleven’s seating capacity, rather than increase the limit for Colts games. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

In addition, The NCAA men’s and women’s basketball season will begin Nov. 25, the day before Thanksgiving.

The Division I Council voted Wednesday to delay the start date from the originally scheduled Nov. 10 as one of several precautions against the spread of coronavirus.

The later start date coincides with the decision most schools made to send students home from Thanksgiving until January out of concern about a potential late-fall and early-winter flareup of COVID-19. Closed campuses could serve as a quasi bubble for players and provide a window for nonconference games.

The maximum number of regular-season games has been reduced from 31 to 27. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Leaving the Jobs Behind

Businesses are positioning themselves for an increasingly competitive landscape by doing everything they can to ramp up productivity and cast off excess costs.

Why it matters: Much of that cost savings will likely come from cutting jobs and adding new ones more slowly, as companies look to invest in new technology and what Carlyle Group's head of global research Jason Thomas calls intangibles.

  • Intangibles are things like R&D, software, patents or "inventory management technology, customer acquisition software ... to increase efficiency and dampen the practical impact from cutbacks in other areas," he writes in a new paper.

What we're hearing: "Almost every client that we deal with, irrespective of sector, is trying to drive cost down and make their products and services more affordable," Tim Ryan, U.S. chair and senior partner at consulting and tax firm PwC, said during a call with reporters Tuesday.

  • "Regardless of sector, most would tell you that they operate in a hyper-competitive sector — whether it be retail, insurance, health care — and there has been this ongoing focus and search for productivity and ways to drive costs down to be more competitive."

What's happening: The dueling realities of the U.S. K-shaped recovery not only mean that some industries and workers will suffer big losses while others prosper, it also means there are limited spoils for the winners.

  • Now fighting for a “bigger piece of a smaller pie” and unable to raise prices meaningfully — but also needing to push forward with technology upgrades and investment to compete — businesses have already begun looking at cutting back in other areas.

The big picture: Companies historically spend more money on things like software, patents and content, while spending less on employees, facilities, warehouses and delivery trucks coming out of recessions. 

  • Carlyle's data show the percentage of fixed income spending used on intangibles has increased — rising following every recent recession, from 3.4% after the 1981–82 recession to 7.5% following the 2007–2009 recession. 

  • The share is on pace to grow to 11% in 2020.

The bottom line: "Past increases in the intangible share of corporate outlays have been associated with slower recoveries in employment," Carlyle's Thomas says. 

"If that relationship holds this cycle, a return to full employment in the U.S. may be much further off than the late 2021 or 2022 recovery in GDP." (Axios)


City Announces Plan for Remaining $76M in Pandemic Relief Funds

Indianapolis plans to appropriate its remaining $76 million of federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to various public health, social services, economic and government-related investments, city officials announced Wednesday.

Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, the city of Indianapolis and Marion County received $168 million from the federal government to use on pandemic-related initiatives and expenses.

To date, the City-County Council has allocated about $92 million of that funding, but has been waiting on Congress to pass additional legislation that might provide the city with more funding, allow it to use some of the already-received funding to replace revenue shortfalls or extend the time given to cities and states to spend the money.

Unless something changes, the funding must be spent by Dec. 30 or the city must return the remaining funds to the federal government. Current rules prevent the funds from replacing lost revenue. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Important Dates

Thursday, September 17 - 10:00 am - 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force - Senate Chamber

Thursday, September 17 - 10:00 am - Public Health, Behavioral Health, and Human Services Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Monday, September 21 - 10:00 am - Employment and Labor Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Monday, September 21 - 10:00 am - Indiana Standards and Accommodation Task Force - Senate Chamber

Tuesday, September 22 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 23 - 10:00 am                                                                 Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Thursday, September 24 - 10:00 am - Public Safety and Military Affairs Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Thursday, September 24 - 10:00 am - Commerce and Economic Development Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Thursday, September 24 - 10:00 am - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Monday, September 28 - 10:00 am - Code Revision Commission - House Chamber

Tuesday, September 29 - 10:00 am - Financial Institutions and Insurance Interim Study Committee - House Chamber - CANCELLED

Tuesday, September 29 - 10:00 am - Public Safety and Military Affairs Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 30 - 10:00 am - Probate Code Study Commission - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 30 - 1:00 pm - Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary - House Chamber

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 

Tuesday, October 6 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code 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

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

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

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

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: 624

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 107,809

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 107,229

Increase in cumulative cases: 580

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: 12

Total deaths: 3,247

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: 7,448

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Wednesday: 1,261,892

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Tuesday: 1,254,731

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 7,161

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.5%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.6%**

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 6.2%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 4.6%**

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: 20,249 (increase of 53)

Marion County new deaths: 1

Marion County cumulative deaths: 757

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 5.5%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,565

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,584

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,227

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,513

Boone County cumulative cases: 937

Hancock County cumulative cases: 888

Morgan County cumulative cases: 673

Shelby County cumulative cases: 650

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 39%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 10.4%

Available ventilators: 81.3%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.3%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Wednesday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,600,566

U.S. deaths: 196,103

Global cases: 29,624,865

Global deaths: 929,444