Holcomb continues consulting with governors on reopening; state says mortgage assistance available

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Gov. Eric Holcomb said he was still looking at what it would take to reopen the state.

His stay-at-home-order remains in effect until May 1.

Holcomb has been in contact with other governors to discuss the coronavirus pandemic and what it means for Indiana and other states in the region.

“Because we share borders and travel, because folks work across the border, it’s very important that we know what stage they are all thinking,” he said. “It’s very important that we all know what each other is doing.”

He’s committed to making sure the healthcare system doesn’t get overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients, leading to critical shortages in supplies and personnel.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box said the state’s reporting system has been hindered by technical glitches in recent days. However, she said the issues have been resolved.

Wednesday afternoon, the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) announced 394 new positive COVD-19 cases in the state, and 31 additional deaths. Those numbers bring the statewide totals to 12,438 and 661, respectively.

Box said the state has been able to expand its testing capacity. However, getting certain tools like swabs remains a challenge. It’s not a question of money, she said, but a question of actually obtaining the swabs, which has been a focus of the federal government.

Box also said the state was working to identify deaths in which the coronavirus played a role.

“We’re going to do our absolute very best to identify every death that we think is associated with COVID-19,” she said.

Box called COVID-19 a “totally different animal” when compared to the flu, which can hit the same populations with similar symptoms.

“There is no herd immunity to COVID-19. This is a new strain,” she said. “This is a totally different animal. This is much more lethal.”

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said the state had reopened its Hardest Hit Fund, which can provide up to 6 months of mortgage payment assistance. She provided the website address and a phone number, 877-GET-HOPE.

Crouch said the state was still getting a handle on how the pandemic was affecting agriculture and tourism.

The state has invested $100 million to expand broadband internet to Hoosiers, a critical resource given the number of people working at home.

Crouch also announced that 13 rural communities would receive grants through the COVID-19 Response Program. The $1.96 million in federal grant funding will go toward testing and diagnostic services, meal and supply delivery and providing capital for small businesses for job retention.

The following communities were awarded the grants:

Provide testing, diagnosis or other services

  • The Town of Lacrosse is awarded $10,000 to install four Wi-Fi hotspots for residents to access the internet to complete e-Learning activities, file unemployment claims and submit job applications.
  • Cass County and Logansport Memorial Hospital are awarded $150,000 to provide COVID-19 testing at the Cass County Fairgrounds to residents of Cass County. Special hours will be set aside for those that are seniors aged 62 and older.

Establish delivery service

  • Tippecanoe County is awarded $100,000 to provide a distribution service for essential supplies to families or individuals in quarantine and isolation because of positive testing for COVID-19.
  • The City of Logansport is awarded $100,000 to deliver supplies and meals to LMI residents in partnership with the United Way of Cass County.
  • The City of Bargersville is awarded $100,000 to deliver needed supplies to residents in partnership with the local main street organization.

Grants to businesses to retain jobs

  • The Town of North Manchester is awarded $250,000 to build upon an existing Revolving Loan Fund to provide grants to local businesses with employees who have low-and-moderate income households impacted by the current COVID-19 crisis.
  • Noble County is awarded $95,250 to fund a micro-grant program that will target at-risk small county businesses in partnership with the Noble County Economic Development Corporation.
  • Fulton County is awarded $250,000 to provide Grants to small businesses in order to retain employees.
  • The City of Delphi is awarded $198,600 to create funds for local businesses that can be used as working capital.
  • The City of Knox is awarded $250,000 to provide working capital to local businesses for job retention.
  • The Town of Hebron is awarded $152,500 to create a fund to provide short term working capital for small businesses in order to retain jobs.
  • Pike County is awarded $60,000 to provide $5,000 grants through the county’s economic development corporation to local businesses for working capital.

Loans to businesses to retain jobs

  • The City of Greensburg is awarded $250,000 to provide loans to local small business owners who are LMI or to retain LMI jobs. The funds will be processed through the local economic development revolving loan program.

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