While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for September 10

Coronavirus

New testing sites. Gov. Eric Holcomb and State Health Commissioner Dr. Kristina Box announced a new coronavirus testing effort that would add nearly 100 sites.

“Our goal throughout this pandemic has been to increase access to testing, and we developed this option as a way to get creative about offering testing for Hoosiers,” she said.

Three dozen local testing sites are scheduled to be open by the end of this week, with nearly 60 other locations scheduled to open by Oct. 1. Some counties are partnering with neighboring counties. More than 10 counties, including Lake, Porter, St. Joseph, Marion, Hamilton and Allen, are opening multiple sites.

ISDH will provide more than $30 million in CARES Act funding to increase access to Hoosiers over the next two years. Box said all local health departments in Indiana were invited to apply to the state for the grants to launch testing operations.

“We want every Hoosier to be able to find testing when they need it so that we can reduce the spread of COVID in our communities, and we are thrilled to be able to support those efforts through our local health departments.”

The local health department sites will provide free testing. Click here for which communities are participating.

State COVID-19 map. The state updated its map tracking the spread of COVID-19 cases by county. The map, updated weekly, shows zero counties in red, which signifies high community spread.

Seven counties are considered orange (moderate to high community spread), while the rest of the state is in yellow (moderate spread) or blue (minimal community spread).

The system is based on two metrics:

  • The number of new cases in the past week per 100,000 residents
  • Percent positivity as determined by the number of positive tests divided by the total number of tests administered

Each metric will receive a score of 0-3 and the average of the two scores will be the county’s score for the week.

Statehouse plan. Indiana lawmakers are preparing to partially move some of their 2021 legislative session activity out of the Statehouse over coronavirus concerns.

A joint House-Senate committee on Wednesday endorsed a plan aimed at allowing the 100-member House to hold its floor sessions and committee meetings in the auditorium and conference rooms of a state office building next to the Statehouse in downtown Indianapolis.

The 50-member state Senate is planning to keep meeting in its Statehouse chamber but will convert its public gallery into seating for senators in order to allow sufficient distancing when the legislative session starts in January.

Proposals presented Wednesday would have House committees meet in government center conference rooms that are larger than those available in the Statehouse, which first opened in 1888. Those testifying about bills being considered, however, would have to speak by video from other rooms and the public could only watch floor proceedings from video monitors outside where the House and Senate would be meeting.

Committee members decided against using the nearby Indiana Convention Center for the legislative session, citing concerns about cost and the further distance from the Statehouse. But the convention center could be used as a location for the governor’s annual State of the State speech to all 150 lawmakers.

The preliminary plan would have House members meeting for debates and votes inside three conference rooms combined into a single space inside the Indiana Government Center South building, which is connected by tunnels to the Statehouse.

Cases surge in India. India reported another record spike of 95,735 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours as the virus spreads beyond its major cities.

According to the Health Ministry, the number of people known to be infected in India reached 4,465,863 on Thursday. It has the second-highest caseload in the world behind the United States, where more than 6.3 million people are known to be infected.

The Health Ministry also reported 1,172 deaths in the past 24 hours, taking total fatalities up to 75,062. Its death toll is third-highest in the world behind the U.S. and Brazil.

The ministry said the surge in new infections is due to ramping of daily testing that exceeds 1 million now. However, experts caution that India’s outbreak is entering a more dangerous phase as the virus spreads to smaller towns and villages.

The Indian capital saw a record surge of 4,618 new cases in the past 24 hours with 19 deaths. New Delhi, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai are the worst-hit cities in the country.

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