Countdown to Election Day: 46 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 GOP Eyes Early Exit

  • What We Learned from the Governor’s Coronavirus Press Conference this Week

  • Initial Unemployment Claims Fall Nationally, Jump in Indiana

  • INDOT Resumes Community Crossings Grant Program

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.

 
 

Senate GOP Eyes Early Exit


Senate Republican leaders are hoping to let their colleagues hit the campaign trail at the end of next week, acknowledging the slim chances of passing significant legislation other than a government funding stopgap before Election Day.

Republican senators say negotiations between the White House and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are not likely to produce a COVID-19 deal before the election, and their vulnerable colleagues are eager to get back home to campaign. However, Pelosi emphasized this week that the House is committed to getting a coronavirus deal, is in no rush to leave the nation’s capital and has some leverage on the Senate’s plans. 

Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) said the goal is to finish work on a stopgap spending measure to fund federal departments and agencies beyond Sept. 30, which would free up senators to leave town until after the election. (The Hill)

 
 

What We Learned from the Governor’s Coronavirus Press Conference this Week


As Indiana continues its work to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Eric Holcomb held another virtual news conference on Wednesday, Sept. 16.

The state health department reported 624 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and 12 additional deaths. More than 107,000 Hoosiers have tested positive, and 3,247 Hoosiers have died.

Here's what we learned at Wednesday's news conference:

  • Holcomb strongly encouraged Hoosiers to take part in the third part of a study by Indiana University's Fairbanks School of Public Health if researchers ask you to help. The third part of the study will take place in late September and early October.

  • Dr. Kristina Box, the commissioner of the Indiana State Department of Health, said Delaware and Monroe counties are in orange in the state's color-coded map. Orange shows moderate to high community spread. The rest of the state's counties are in yellow, showing moderate community spread, or blue, which shows minimal community spread.

  • Hospitalization rates are holding steady. 

  • The state is especially concerned about an increase in reported cases among children and young adults, particularly in the 18-22 age group as universities have tested returning students. Since early August, case counts are trending down for all age groups except college students.

  • Among K-12 students, the state is seeing a higher percentage of cases among high school students, Box said. She said the state hopes to have historical data of cases in schools available next week.

  • So far in September, nearly half of the state's new COVID-19 cases have been in the 0-19 and 20-29 age groups.

  • Indiana now has 253 testing sites, and that number is expected to increase.

  • The state is working with Indiana University in Bloomington to make sure they have accurate totals of how many tests have been taken. She said the state is working to determine exactly how many cases are at the university versus how many are from the community.

  • The state is removing 469 positive results that were added to the dashboard this week due to data reporting problems from a testing lab. She anticipates corrected numbers soon.

  • INDOT Commissioner Joe McGuinness said traffic volumes across the state are starting to return to normal after dipping during the stay-at-home order. Traffic volume is now down 13% compared to pre-pandemic numbers. During the stay-at-home orders, overall traffic was as low as 40% of its pre-pandemic volume. He said freight traffic has also rebounded and even rose higher than pre-pandemic levels.

  • While Box said it's not a good idea to have a big Halloween party, she said there will be ways for kids to safely take part in the holiday. For example, she said kids need to make sure to wash hands before opening candy wrappers and eating the candy. (Indy Star)

 
 

Initial Unemployment Claims Fall Nationally, Jump in Indiana


The number of Americans applying for initial unemployment benefits fell nationally last week, to 860,000, but jumped 23% in Indiana.

The Labor Department said Thursday that U.S. jobless claims fell by 33,000 from the previous week and that 12.6 million are collecting traditional unemployment benefits, compared with just 1.7 million a year ago.

Before the pandemic hit the economy, the number signing up for jobless aid had never exceeded 700,000 in a week, even during the depths of the 2007-2009 Great Recession.

In Indiana, 13,851 people filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended Sept. 12, up from an adjusted number of 11,255 the previous week, an increase of 2,596, or 23%. Prior to the pandemic, the state was typically seeing fewer than 3,000 claims per week.

A total of 162,009 people were receiving unemployment benefits in Indiana as of Sept. 5, the Labor Department said. That was up from 158,742 the previous week.

Thursday’s report also showed that an additional 658,737 people applied for jobless benefits nationally last week under the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program for self-employed and gig workers. That was a decrease from an adjusted 868,314 the previous week.

Indiana reported 12,905 new applicants for the PUA program in the week ended Sept. 12 after reporting 9,722 new claims the previous week. The state reported 217,512 people were receiving continued PUA aid as of Aug. 29, up from 169,475 the prior week.

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits. Those include the self-employed, independent contractors, gig economy workers and workers for certain religious entities.

The coronavirus outbreak slammed the U.S. economy in the spring, causing the economy to collapse at a 31.7% annual from April through June, by far the worst three months on record. Companies and government agencies slashed 22 million jobs.

Since then, the economy and job market have been rebounding. Employers added 10.6 million jobs from May through August, but the United States still has recovered less than half the jobs lost in March and April. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

INDOT Resumes Community Crossings Grant Program


After a pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Indiana Department of Transportation has restarted the Community Crossings grant program. The next round of the program will provide about $68 million in state matching funds for a variety of local projects, including road resurfacing, bridge rehabilitation and road reconstruction. 

INDOT says the funding can also be used for Americans with Disabilities Act compliance in connection with road projects, as well as material costs for chip sealing and crack filling operations.

The call for projects in the new round of funding was originally set to take place in July, however, the state postponed the call due to uncertainties surrounding state revenue as a result of the pandemic.

The $68 million figure includes existing revenue in the state's local road and bridge matching grant fund and anticipated revenues from the first three months of the state's 2021 fiscal year.

The program is open to all local governments throughout the state. The populations of cities and towns will determine precisely how much of a match they will receive.

Applications for the funding round will be accepted through October 23. The grant recipients will be announced by INDOT later in the fall.

INDOT says, since the program's inception in 2016, the state has awarded more than $730 million in matching funds. (Inside Indiana Business)

 
 

Important Dates


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 - 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

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: 850

Total cumulative cases reported Thursday: 108,646

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 107,809

Increase in cumulative cases: 837

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: 6

Total deaths: 3,253

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: 8,662

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Thursday: 1,269,650

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

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 7,758

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.6%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.5%**

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 6.1%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 4.4%**

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: 20,341 (increase of 92)

Marion County new deaths: 0

Marion County cumulative deaths: 757

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 5.7%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,600

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,607

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,241

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,530

Boone County cumulative cases: 938

Hancock County cumulative cases: 892

Morgan County cumulative cases: 680

Shelby County cumulative cases: 655

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 38.5%

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

Available ventilators: 81.1%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.5%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Thursday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,640,540

U.S. deaths: 197,091

Global cases: 29,925,969

Global deaths: 942,076