Importantville: Indiana Readies For COVID-19 Hotspot Status

Illustration by Kris Davidson

It’s Monday. This is IMPORTANTVILLE. It’s hard to imagine how life will be back to normal by the time the rescheduled Indy 500 rolls around in August. Will any of us feel comfortable around 300,000 people just a few months after cases have peaked? It’s far more likely at this point that if the race happens, it will be without fans rather than with fans in the stands. Ditto the Indiana State Fair. It’s difficult to see how those paragons of Hoosier life happen in 2020.

Indiana is 10 days away from a projected peak in daily deaths from the novel coronavirus, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. On April 17, an estimated 96 Hoosiers are projected to lose their lives to COVID-19.

In a press conference today, Gov. Eric Holcomb extended the stay-at-home order through April 2020, and has also ordered all retail stores to conduct curbside or carryout business only (the inside of the store has to be closed to customers). In addition, Holcomb closed campgrounds.

We also learned today that 11 residents at Bethany Pointe Health Campus, a long-term care facility in Madison County, Indiana, have died due to a coronavirus outbreak.

And, in more troubling news, Indiana trails nearly every surrounding state in testing, according to an analysis by Indiana health commissioner Dr. Kristina Box, conducting just about 300 tests per 100,000 residents.

Total Hoosiers Tested for Coronavirus: TOTAL 26,191**

Total Positive Cases: 4,944*

Total Deaths: 139

*Results from ISDH and results submitted by private laboratories.
**Number of tests is provisional and reflects only those reported to ISDH—not a comprehensive total.

Happening Today: Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force hold a press briefing at 5 p.m.

Other news:

  • Surgeon General Jerome Adams on Fox News Sunday: “It’s going to be our Pearl Harbor moment, our 9/11 moment. Only it’s not gonna be localized. It’s going to be happening all over the country.”
  • Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told Tony Katz today in an interview on 93.1 WIBC that if governors can loan ventilators to high-need states, “we would love that generosity and common spirit.”
  • White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Deborah Birx said last week: “Michigan, Connecticut, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois—that should tell you where the next hot spots are coming—are at 15 percent test positive. And then Colorado, D.C., Rhode Island and Massachusetts are at 13 percent.”

Focus on the Fifth

Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, a Republican candidate for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District, announced today that he would cease fundraising for the remainder of the primary campaign.

“Due to the Coronavirus greatly upsetting the local and national economies, I will no longer be soliciting campaign contributions for the remainder of the primary campaign. Hoosiers are out of work and watching their hard-earned retirement savings plummet. Now is not the time to expect anyone to contribute money to a political campaign.”

Context: In a March 22 fundraising email, Brizzi became the first and—by my reporting—only Indiana candidate to fundraise off the pandemic.

Chuck Dietzen is working with the Indianapolis restaurant Tinker Street to give away 600 meals a day to Hoosiers, according to Indianapolis Monthly’s Julia Spalding.

Around Importantville

  • Cummins, the engine-maker, is halting production at its Southern Indiana plants in the vice president’s hometown of Columbus. Why isn’t this factory being converted into a PPE manufacturing facility?
  • Former Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate and tech CEO Josh Owens threw his support behind State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes) for Indiana Attorney General.

Importantville Reads

Shane Goldmacher, The New York Times: “Pete Buttigieg’s Next Move: A PAC Called Win the Era

Pete Buttigieg, who rose from obscurity to narrowly win the Iowa caucuses before dropping out of the Democratic presidential primary last month, has taken some of the first steps toward outlining his post-campaign future.

Mr. Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., is forming both a political action committee, called Win the Era, and an affiliated nonprofit group, according to people briefed on the plans.

Donors have been told that the PAC will support and endorse candidates who represent generational change, specifically in down-ballot races, in hopes of helping to create a “pipeline” for the party. The groups will also promote issues such as climate change and cybersecurity.

James Briggs, Indy Star: “Elkhart gets clobbered by recessions. This time might be different.

Now that the economy has gone into hibernation amid the COVID-19 pandemic, unemployment data shows we’re spiraling into recession — or, perhaps something even worse that we don’t have a name for yet. That seems like especially terrible news for Elkhart, which topped out at an unemployment rate above 19% in early 2009 even as the statewide jobless rate stayed below 11%.

But this is not a normal economic downturn — and Elkhart’s overabundance of RV manufacturing might make it uniquely well positioned to weather the economic effects of the pandemic better than other cities.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading. Stay healthy—and stay home.