Countdown to Election Day: 40 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:

  • Virus Cuts Income 10% Worldwide...CEO Optimism Rises

  • Indiana Officials Report Nearly 1,900 Cases of COVID-19 in Schools

  • Judge Blocks Indiana Law Restricting Who May Seek Polling Hour Extension

  • Initial Unemployment Claims Tick up Nationally, Dip in Indiana

  • Marion County to Delay Stage 5 Reopening, Lagging Holcomb’s Statewide Order

  • State Receives $25M to Continue Workforce Ready Programs

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.

 
 

Virus Cuts Income 10% Worldwide...CEO Optimism Rises


One of the starkest stats seen on the pandemic:

  • The income earned by workers around the world fell 10%+ in the first nine months of 2020 because of the pandemic, the Financial Times (subscriptionreports from International Labour Organization figures.

  • That adds up to $3.5 trillion.

But CEOs, in a quarterly Business Roundtable survey, see better days ahead: 

24 percent of CEOs said that business conditions never declined, have recovered, or will likely recover by the end of the year. Forty percent said they expect business conditions to recover in 2021, and 36 percent said they expect business conditions to recover in 2022 or later.

Go deeper, including tables and graphs. (Axios)

 
 

Indiana Officials Report Nearly 1,900 Cases of COVID-19 in Schools


In one mid-September week, Indiana recorded nearly 1,900 cases of COVID-19 in schools, according to a state dashboard tracking the virus in schools.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box on Wednesday called the dashboard, which will go public next week, “a historical snapshot” of the coronavirus data as schools reopened campuses this fall.

The count reflects data from about 2,000 schools, or more than 70% of the state’s schools. Officials expect more districts will provide their numbers by the time the dashboard goes live. The cases logged so far include 1,348 among students, 274 among teachers, and 276 among other school staff.

In creating the school dashboard, Indiana joins more than a dozen states that publicly provide numbers of COVID-19 cases in schools. Some other states collect numbers but do not list them publicly.

State health officials agreed to create the dashboard in response to calls for more transparency about the incidence of the coronavirus in schools.

Box said that schools have been entering data on the virus into the health department’s portal. More than 1,100  schools reported no cases, and more than 900 reported at least one case.

The soon-to-be-released dashboard will show new and total school COVID-19 positive cases among students, teachers, and staff. If a school has fewer than five cases among students, the state will suppress the information to protect confidentiality.

On the dashboard, the public will be able to filter data by school district and see a map of schools with cases. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

Judge Blocks Indiana Law Restricting Who May Seek Polling Hour Extension


A federal judge has blocked a 2019 Indiana law restricting who may seek to extend polling-place hours due to conditions that prevent voters from casting a ballot.

Southern District of Indiana Judge Richard Young granted an injunction Tuesday sought by Common Cause Indiana. “The public interest plainly favors the injunction,” Young wrote.

The so-called standing amendments restricted who may ask for an extension of polling hours. “Prior to 2019, voters could go directly to state court to seek an extension of polling place hours when they encountered barriers to casting their ballot,” Young’s order says.

Under the standing amendment, “[o]nly a county election board has standing in an Indiana court or with any other state governmental entity to file an action or petition to request the extension of the hour for closing the polls by the court or entity,” Young wrote.

“The Standing Amendment prevents any entity other than a unanimous county election board from ‘fil[ing] an action or petition’ in state court ‘to request the extension of the hour for closing the polls’ when there are unforeseen barriers to casting a ballot. This burdens the right to vote because when voters face disenfranchising conditions at their polling place, the Standing Amendment can deny them an opportunity to vindicate their right to vote by seeking relief in an Indiana court,” the judge found.

Young cited the example of a voter who plans to vote after leaving work at 5 p.m. “When she arrives at her polling location, she is told she can’t vote right now because they ran out of ballots. If she is unable to wait until more ballots arrive or is unable to return by 6:00 p.m. (when polls close), she will have lost the right to vote. Before the Standing Amendment’s adoption, any of the individuals at that polling location could ask the court to extend the polling hours to make up for the time when voters could not vote. But the Standing Amendment forecloses that option. Instead, the voter must embark on a campaign to identify, contact, and potentially convince a group of three or even five members of her county election board to file the request. If she is unable to accomplish any of these tasks before 6:00 p.m., she will be unable to vote.”

The judge noted just such a thing happened in Monroe County in 2018. Polls in and around Bloomington ran out of ballots, prompting a citizen action in which a judge ordered polls there to remain open until 7 p.m. to accommodate voters. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

Initial Unemployment Claims Tick up Nationally, Dip in Indiana


The number of people seeking U.S. unemployment aid rose slightly last week to 870,000, a historically high figure that shows that the viral pandemic is still squeezing restaurants, airlines, hotels and many other businesses six months after it first erupted.

Meanwhile, new jobless claims in Indiana ticked down over the previous week.

In Indiana, 12,416 people filed initial unemployment claims in the week ended Sept. 19, down from an adjusted number of 13,245 the previous week, a decrease of 829, or 6.7%. Prior to the pandemic, the state was typically seeing fewer than 3,000 claims per week.

A total of 157,876 people were receiving unemployment benefits in Indiana as of Sept. 12, the Labor Department said. That was down from 164,615 the previous week.

Thursday’s report also showed that an additional 630,080 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 675,154 the previous week.

Indiana reported 11,987 new applicants for the PUA program in the week ended Sept. 12 after reporting 12,905 new claims the previous week. The state reported 285,110 people were receiving continued PUA aid as of Sept. 5, up from 217,512 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. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

Marion County to Delay Stage 5 Reopening, Lagging Holcomb’s Statewide Order


Marion County will delay moving to Stage 5 of Indiana’s Back on Track recovery plan while health officials wait to see whether the number of COVID-19 cases holds steady or decreases.

“We have a greater potential for transmission of COVID-19 compared to any other county,” Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Department of Public Health, said Thursday morning during IBJ’s Health Care & Benefits Power Breakfast panel discussion. “So we will not be moving to Stage 5 along with the governor’s recommendation.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday he was moving Indiana to Stage 5 starting on Saturday, a move that essentially lifts all restrictions, except for some social distancing requirements and regulatory conditions for larger crowds. Gov. The state has been in Stage 4.5 since July 1.

Holcomb’s executive order allows local governments to impose more restrictive guidelines. Marion County has issued more stringent orders than the rest of the state throughout the pandemic.

Caine did not say when she expects Marion County to move to Stage 5. She said she was concerned that Marion County’s population density might increase the number of cases sharply if officials did not take the right steps.

Marion County has been following a slower timeline for reopening than other counties. It didn’t enter Stage 4 until June 19, one week after the rest of the state. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

 
 

State Receives $25M to Continue Workforce Ready Programs


The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says the state has received another $25 million in CARES Act funding to continue efforts to upskill more Hoosiers through expanded Next Level Jobs programs.

The money is used to help provide training to people who lost their jobs during the pandemic. It can also be used to steer Hoosiers towards better-paying jobs.

“We were able to use that money to expand the number of tuition-free, high-quality certificates, as well as the number of Hoosiers who were eligible to access those short-term education and training opportunities,” said ICHE Commissioner Teresa Lubbers.

The commission says the second round of funding follows an initial $50 million the state received in June as part of the Rapid Recovery for a Better Future Initiative.

Lubbers, who is a member of the Governor’s Workforce Cabinet, says the state’s Workforce Ready Grant and Employer Training Grant programs are showing success in helping unemployed or underemployed people.

“Since June alone, over 5,500 Hoosiers have used the Workforce Ready Grant to enroll in classes or training. More than 2,800 Hoosiers have completed the program, getting them a certificate during this three-month period,” said Lubbers.

Lubbers said 7,000 employees have received additional training through the Employer Training Grant, which reimburses employers who train, hire, and retain new or incumbent workers to fill in-demand positions within six priority job fields.

“This includes over 3,000 new hires as well as hiring people to do new skills. At the same time, the individuals are being trained to fill high demand jobs with an average wage of over $20 an hour,” said Lubbers. 

Lubbers says the additional federal funding is set to expire on December 30 and warns there may not be a new round of grants. She is encouraging Hoosiers to take advantage of free training opportunities. (Inside Indiana Business)

 
 

Important Dates


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 

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: 920

Total cumulative cases reported Thursday: 114,236

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 113,337

Increase in cumulative cases: 899

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: 17

Total deaths: 3,322

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: 9,021

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Thursday: 1,331,608

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Wednesday: 1,322,819

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 8,789

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.6%

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

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 5.9%

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: 21,067 (increase of 131)

Marion County new deaths: 3

Marion County cumulative deaths: 761

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 6.6%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,803

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,694

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,291

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,619

Boone County cumulative cases: 960

Hancock County cumulative cases: 917

Morgan County cumulative cases: 709

Shelby County cumulative cases: 668

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 39.4%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 11.3%

Available ventilators: 81.2%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.9%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Thursday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,941,248

U.S. deaths: 202,170

Global cases: 31,944,038

Global deaths: 977,881