Countdown to Election Day: 60 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:

  • Breaking: Mnuchin, Pelosi Reach Informal Deal to Avoid Government Shutdown

  • Indianapolis Bars, Nightclubs can Reopen at Limited Capacity Starting Tuesday, Mayor Says

  • Trump Eviction Ban Tests Limits of CDC Authority

  • Fauci Warns Indiana, Six Other States to be on Alert Over Labor Day

  • Indiana University Doctor is Now Enrolling Participants in a COVID Vaccine Trial

  • New Standard for Treating Severe COVID-19 Patients

  • When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?

  • IU Officials Recommend Closing All Greek Houses

  • Americans Less Worried About Tariffs

  • DOL Admits Seasonal Adjustment Distorted Unemployment Data

  • U.S. Trade Deficit Surges to Highest Level in 12 Years

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.


Mnuchin, Pelosi Reach Informal Deal to Avoid Government Shutdown

Breaking: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have informally agreed to pursue a clean, short-term stopgap measure to avert a government shutdown at the end of the month, sources in both parties confirmed Thursday.

That means the continuing resolution (CR) needed to keep the government open past Sept. 30 would be free of controversial policy riders that have bogged down previous funding bills, significantly lowering the odds of a shutdown leading up to the crucial Nov. 3 elections.

The tentative deal also means the government funding bill and a new coronavirus relief package being negotiated between Pelosi and Mnuchin would not be part of the same talks.

Both Mnuchin and Pelosi, who spoke Tuesday, agreed to “work to avoid a shutdown and keep the government open, and that the best way to do that is a clean CR,” said a source familiar with the talks.

“House Democrats support a clean continuing resolution,” added Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill. (The Hill)


Indianapolis Bars, Nightclubs can Reopen at Limited Capacity Starting Tuesday, Mayor Says

Mayor Joe Hogsett said bars and nightclubs can reopen with limited capacity starting on Tuesday as Marion County shows signs of improvement during the pandemic.

“I am heartened this morning to report based on encouraging data, beginning next Tuesday, bars and nightclubs will be able to reopen at 25% indoors with up to 50% capacity utilizing outdoor seating,” he said during a Thursday news conference.

Hogsett said the bars and nightclubs can only offer table seating. Customers must be seated at tables capable of supporting no more than six people. Bar seating will remain closed.

Those businesses must close at 12 a.m. Three violations will lead to a closure for a minimum of 30 days, according to Dr. Virginia Caine with the Marion County Public Health Department.

Marion County’s mask mandate will remain in place indefinitely.

Restaurants can open at 75% outdoor dining with social distancing and table service allowed in bar areas.

Nightclubs are to follow the same rules as bars, although dancing and live entertainment are not allowed.

Hogsett said Caine would go “full Footloose” on any establishments that turn into dance clubs and order them closed.

The reopening will last as long as the public health orders are taken seriously and people follow mask mandates and social distancing protocols, both Hogsett and Caine emphasized.

In addition, main road closures for the “Dine Out” program (Mass Ave, Broad Ripple Avenue) will end after Labor Day. The mayor is hoping to announce a more permanent solution for expanded outdoor dining and is working with several agencies to do so. (Fox 59)


Trump Eviction Ban Tests Limits of CDC Authority

The Trump administration’s new eviction ban faces a slew of legal and political challenges that could undercut an ambitious and unorthodox attempt to save tens of millions Americans from homelessness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Tuesday issued an order banning landlords from evicting tenants that can no longer afford to pay rent due to a pandemic-related expense or hardship through the end of 2020. That order, along with previously issued federal protections, could ensure all of the nation’s 40 million rental households keep their residences during the pandemic.

But the eviction ban is a groundbreaking test of the CDC’s power that experts say will undoubtedly prompt several legal challenges. And advocates for both tenants and the real estate industry fear that the expiration of the protections at the end of the year could create a dangerous housing crisis at the start of 2021.

While the ban could be a crucial lifeline for struggling renters, experts say its legal basis rests on a broad interpretation of a 1944 law. The regulation cited by the CDC gives it power to take whatever action it deems necessary to stop the interstate transmission of an infectious disease.

The logic behind the order is that if a renter is evicted and forced to move in with someone beyond state lines, it could further spread COVID-19. (The Hill)


Fauci Warns Indiana, Six Other States to be on Alert Over Labor Day

Anthony Fauci, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, said that seven states that have seen upticks in COVID-19 cases should be particularly vigilant over the Labor Day holiday, and warned that if Americans are “careless,” there could be another jump in cases this fall.

“There are several states that are at risk for surging, namely North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Arkansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois,” Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview this week. “Those states are starting to see an increase in the percent positive of their testing; that is generally predictive that there’s going to be a problem.”

Memorial Day marked a turning point for many newly reopened states, which saw previously moderate COVID-19 outbreaks start to spread. July 4th came just a few weeks before the worst of the U.S. spike, with new cases regularly topping 60,000 later that month. While new infections are down significantly, the daily death toll is still hovering near 1,000, based on a seven-day average.

That has many worried about how the country will fare over the long Labor Day weekend, as the U.S. outbreak tops 6 million confirmed cases and 185,000 deaths.

Fauci joined Vice President Mike Pence on a call with governors this week to urge them to tell their residents to follow guidance on masks, social distancing and other measures to lower the risks of contagion to ensure there aren’t repeats of the surges following the Memorial Day and July Fourth weekends. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Indiana University Doctor is Now Enrolling Participants in a COVID Vaccine Trial

If you’ve been hoping to get a coronavirus vaccine soon, you could get your chance in the coming weeks as an Indiana University researcher starts enrolling volunteers in a trial of one of the United States’ four vaccine candidates.

IU will be the only site in the state included in the study of a compound developed by the drug company AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University. Researchers at 81 sites around the country hope to enroll about 30,000 people, two-thirds of whom will receive the vaccine and one-third a placebo.

The Phase III trial is the last stage before manufacturers would seek approval from the Food and Drug Administration for widespread public use.

In Indianapolis, Indiana University Health University Hospital will be looking to enroll about 1,500 people over about eight weeks, said Dr. Cynthia Brown, an associate professor of clinical medicine at the IU School of Medicine, who is overseeing the study locally.  

To be eligible to participate volunteers must be over 18, healthy, not have had a confirmed case of the coronavirus, and be in an environment where they have an increased risk of contracting the virus. This category includes essential workers such as health care workers, factory workers, teachers who are back in the classroom, and bus drivers. (Indy Star)


New Standard for Treating Severe COVID-19 Patients

Promising news: Low-cost, easily accessible corticosteroid drugs reduce mortality by about one-third in seriously ill coronavirus patients, according to an analysis in JAMA, a leading medical journal.

  • Now the World Health Organization is recommending the anti-inflammatory drugs for those suffering from severe cases, writes Axios' Marisa Fernandez.

The big picture: "Corticosteroids should now be the first-line treatment for critically ill patients. ... The only other drug shown to be effective in seriously ill patients, and only modestly at that, is remdesivir," the N.Y. Times reports.

  • "'Clearly, now steroids are the standard of care,' said Dr. Howard C. Bauchner, the editor-in-chief of JAMA, which published five papers about the treatment."

Between the lines: This type of treatment is not recommended for those with a mild case of COVID-19.

  • The JAMA authors also note it's too soon to know how the corticosteroids work to treat the illness. The data shows, however, that they appear to hinder a fatal immune response doctors refer to as "cytokine storm."

The bottom line: For every 12 patients treated with corticosteroids, one life is saved, Jonathan Sterne said in a JAMA interview.

Go deeper: The CDC last week "urgently" requested governors to speed up their permit applications so vaccine distribution sites are operational by early November. (Axios)


When Workers Can Live Anywhere, Many Ask: Why Do I Live Here?

The coronavirus is challenging the assumption that Americans must stay physically tethered to traditionally hot job markets—and the high costs and small spaces that often come with them—to access the best work opportunities. Three months into the pandemic, many workers find themselves in jobs that, at least for now, will let them work anywhere, creating a wave of movement across the country.

Recessions tend to damp migration. Americans typically move with a new job already in hand, and hiring plummets during downturns. The 2008 financial crisis limited Americans’ mobility because millions of homeowners found themselves underwater on their homes, unable to sell without taking a loss.

But this time might be different. Home prices haven’t yet taken a major hit. And the forces at play are novel. Confronted with the prospect of not being able to easily fly in for a visit with an elderly parent, grown children are suddenly questioning why they live so far away in the first place.

Many newly remote workers are finding they prefer somewhere closer to family or fresh air. Others are giving up on leases they can’t afford, chasing opportunities in states that are reopening faster or heading back to hometowns.

All told, at one point in April, Americans were relocating at twice the pace they did a year earlier, according to Cuebiq, a data firm that tracks movement via mobile phones. They continued to move at an elevated rate through mid-May. Cuebiq’s tally includes any trips away from home that last at least three weeks, so it also captures some temporary movement, like people decamping to vacation homes and students moving home from college.

It’s too early to tell how many of these moves are permanent and how, in aggregate, new migration patterns might reshape the country. Some people who left big cities early in the pandemic are realizing they miss working from an office—or their companies miss them, and want them back in their cubicles. Others are staying put because they don’t know when their companies will make them come back.

Still, coronavirus-spurred moving could accelerate a shift already under way from dense, expensive cities to more affordable areas, including small cities and suburbs. (Wall Street Journal)


IU Officials Recommend Closing All Greek Houses

Indiana University officials are recommending the closure of all Greek houses due to COVID-19. Officials have said the positivity rate at some houses is above 50 percent. Stats for Greek houses can be found here.

The university has 40 Greek houses. The houses are not owned or operated by the university but by national organizations. The Evan Scholars house and Christian Fellowship house are not included in the recommendation.

IU cannot order the houses to close.

“IU expects the national organizations and housing corporations to work directly with students to make decisions about their living environment and find alternate arrangements,” the university said in a tweet.

On Wednesday, News 8 reported that 30 Greek houses had been placed under quarantine. Officials said they are not aware of any students having to be hospitalized. The university has posted a frequently asked questions list here. (WISH TV)


Americans Less Worried About Tariffs

U.S. consumers are getting less concerned about the impact of tariffs on their daily lives, new data show.

What happened: After consumer concern about the tariffs rose to record highs in April and May, CivicScience noted a consistent decline that has pushed overall readings on concern down to nearly their levels before the pandemic began in the U.S.

By the numbers: For the full month of August, 65% of U.S. adults say they’re at least somewhat concerned about the impact of recent trade policies on their household expenses, down three points from 68% in the month of July.

Watch this space: Tariffs are still in place on most Chinese exports to the U.S. and on many Chinese imports from the U.S., so businesses and consumers are still paying duties on hundreds of billions of dollars of goods. 

Both sides in the U.S.-China trade war have pledged their commitment to the "phase one" trade deal, though President Trump has said he has no plans to negotiate a phase two. (Axios)


DOL Admits Seasonal Adjustment Distorted Unemployment Data

Today's initial jobless claims report will look a bit different as the Department of Labor announced it will change the methodology it uses to seasonally adjust data.

  • The seasonal adjustments will switch from multiplying by a seasonal factor to adding.

What they're saying: "[I]n the presence of a large level shift in a time series, multiplicative seasonal adjustment factors can result in systematic over- or under-adjustment of the series; in such cases, additive seasonal adjustment factors are preferred since they tend to more accurately track seasonal fluctuations in the series and have smaller revisions," DOL said in a statement.

The intrigue: The Bureau of Labor Statistics had already made this change to its reports, months ago, says former BLS head Erica Groshen, but the agency tasked with releasing the unemployment data, the Employment and Training Administration (ETA), had not until now.

  • "This is an example of the difference between having a statistical agency produce official economic indicators from administrative data and having an administrative agency publish aggregates that are used as economic indicators but do not have curation by national statisticians," she told Axios' Felix Salmon.

  • "BLS could and arguably should produce a weekly series of indicators based on UI Claims. Sadly, that can’t happen without funding—either through appropriations to BLS or to ETA for this purpose. So, ETA just stumbles along..."

Also intriguing: Over the last three weeks the average for seasonally adjusted initial jobless claims was 21% higher than the average for non seasonally adjusted claims, notes DRW Trading rates strategist Lou Brien. 

  • Last year at this time, he says, with about 1/10th as many claims, the seasonally adjusted three-week average for initial claims was 21.5% higher than the unadjusted claims.


U.S. Trade Deficit Surges to Highest Level in 12 Years

The U.S. trade deficit surged in July to $63.6 billion, the highest level in 12 years, as imports jumped by a record amount.

The pandemic has caused major disruptions to global trade, depressing the flow of cross-border transactions.

The Commerce Department reported that the July deficit, the gap between what America buys and what it sells to foreigners, was 18.9% higher than the June deficit of $53.5 billion.

The increase was driven by a record 10.9% increase in imports, which rose to $231.7 billion. Exports were also up but by a smaller 8.1%, to $168.1 billion.

When Donald Trump campaigned for president in 2016 he pledged to sharply lower the country’s large trade deficits, especially with China, which for years has been the country with the largest trade surplus with the United States.

But despite a number of high-profile trade battles and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, America’s trade deficits have risen, especially after the United States began easing tariffs Trump imposed early in his presidency.

For July, the deficit with China in goods totaled $31.6 billion, an 11.5% increase from the June imbalance.

The goods deficit with Mexico hit a record high of $10.6 in July. Trump has claimed the new free trade deal he has negotiated with Mexico and China will be a boon for American workers and businesses, but it didn’t officially go into force until July.

The United States ran a deficit in goods trade of $80.1 billion in July, the highest on record. The U.S. surplus in services, such as banking and insurance, declined to $17.4 billion, the smallest services surplus since August 2012. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


Important Dates

Wednesday, September 9 - 9:00 am - Legislative Continuity Committee - Room 233

Wednesday, September 9 - 2:00 pm - Legislative Council, Audit and Financial Reporting Subcommittee - House Chamber

Thursday, September 10 - 1:00 pm - Roads and Transportation Interim Study Committee - Room 233

Tuesday, September 15 - 11:00 am - Corrections and Criminal Code Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

Wednesday, September 16 - 10:00 am - Agriculture and Natural Resources Interim Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Wednesday, September 16 - 10:00 am - Public Safety and Military Affairs Interim Study Committee - House Chamber

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

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

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

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

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


By The Numbers …

COVID-19 Cases

*New cases: 1,110

Total cumulative cases reported Thursday: 96,854

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 95,750

Increase in cumulative cases: 1,104

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: 4

Total deaths: 3,110

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: 10,615

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Thursday: 1,103,038

Total cumulative tested individuals reported Wednesday: 1,092,596

Increase in cumulative tested individuals: 10,442

Cumulative positivity rate unique individuals: 8.8%

Seven-day positivity rate unique individuals: 7%

Cumulative positivity rate all tests: 6.7%

Seven-day positivity rate all tests: 5.3%

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 department began including antigen test results in its data on Aug. 24.

County Numbers

Marion County cumulative cases: 18,837 (increase of 116)

Marion County new deaths: 0

Marion County cumulative deaths: 749

Marion County 7-day positivity rate unique individuals: 7.1%

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 4,056

Hendricks County cumulative cases: 2,391

Johnson County cumulative cases: 2,059

Madison County cumulative cases: 1,359

Boone County cumulative cases: 867

Hancock County cumulative cases: 828

Morgan County cumulative cases: 602

Shelby County cumulative cases: 629

Indiana Intensive Care Unit Usage

Available ICU beds: 39%

ICU beds in use by COVID-19 patients: 11%

Available ventilators: 82.4%

Ventilators in use for COVID-19: 2.7%

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers

As of Thursday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 6,115,276

U.S. deaths: 185,958

Global cases: 26,074,609

Global deaths: 864,153