While You Were Sleeping: Coronavirus updates for September 23

Coronavirus

Desperate situation. A new survey from the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association (InRLA) says more than 41% of Indiana restaurants believe they will close in the next six months if restrictions remain the same.

“We are forecasting a harder six months moving forward than the previous six,” said InRLA President and CEO Patrick Tamm. “You realize even if you see places busy, we are operating with one hand or two hands tied behind our back.”

“If things continue on the path they are on, not looking good,” said Eric Young, the vice president of Action Enterprising, which runs the Rooftop Bar in Fountain Square along with Imbibe bar. “I think there’s a very real possibility we pack it up and call the dream dead.”

The state hospitality industry saw a boost in July thanks to bonuses to the federal unemployment rate, but once those stopped, InRLA says sales began dropping again in August. While bars and restaurants have been able to acquire paycheck protection program (PPP) loans, some hot spots admit the cash was not enough to break even.

As locations with outdoor seating begin to close their patios for winter, the poor projections are only expected to get worse.

Indianapolis bars, clubs sue. The owners of dozens of bars and nightclubs filed a lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis, Mayor Joe Hogsett, the Marion County Public Health Department and Dr. Virginia Caine for “stringent and inflexible business restrictions that have led to millions of dollars in losses over a period of just a few months.”

In a press release, the businesses state that despite the reopening of many industries and a return to school, Marion County Public Health Department statistics show that COVID-19-related deaths have steadily declined over the course of the year.

Among the allegations in the lawsuit are that the defendants violated the bar owners’ constitutional rights of equal protection by “singling out their businesses to bear the brunt of months-long business closures and over strict capacity requirements, while other businesses, including restaurants, were allowed to remain open and at greater capacity.”

The Orders specifically addressed in the complaint include:

  • Stricter restrictions on bars and night clubs located in Marion county as opposed to the rest of the state of Indiana,
  • Stricter restrictions on bars that cater to adults only as opposed to kids,
  • Outlawing seating that is adjacent to bars as opposed to tables,
  • Outlawing live entertainment,
  • Outlawing dancing
  • Requiring businesses to close at midnight even though capacity restrictions are in place.

Grim milestone. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus topped 200,000, a figure unimaginable eight months ago when the scourge first reached the world’s richest nation with its sparkling laboratories, top-flight scientists and stockpiles of medicines and emergency supplies.

“It is completely unfathomable that we’ve reached this point,” said Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins University public health researcher.

The bleak milestone, by far the highest confirmed death toll from the virus in the world, was reported by Johns Hopkins, based on figures supplied by state health authorities. But the real toll is thought to be much higher, in part because many COVID-19 deaths were probably ascribed to other causes, especially early on, before widespread testing.

The number of dead in the U.S. is equivalent to a 9/11 attack every day for 67 days. It is roughly equal to the population of Salt Lake City or Huntsville, Alabama.

And it is still climbing. Deaths are running at close to 770 a day on average, and a widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the overall U.S. toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year as schools and colleges reopen and cold weather sets in. A vaccine is unlikely to become widely unavailable until 2021.

“The idea of 200,000 deaths is really very sobering, in some respects stunning,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease expert, said on CNN.

The figure reflects America’s unenviable spot, which it has held for five months, as the world’s leader by far in sheer numbers of confirmed infections and deaths. The U.S. has less than 5% of the globe’s population but more than 20% of the reported deaths.

Only five countries — Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Spain and Brazil — rank higher in COVID-19 deaths per capita.

Trick-or-treat guidance. The Centers for Disease Control rolled out new guidance warning against door-to-door trick-or-treating this Halloween.

“Many traditional Halloween activities can be high-risk for spreading viruses,” the CDC said. “There are several safer, alternative ways to participate in Halloween. If you may have COVID-19 or you may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should not participate in in-person Halloween festivities and should not give out candy to trick-or-treaters.”

The CDC says the public should avoid the following “higher-risk activities”:

  • Traditional trick-or-treating in which treats are given to children going door to door
  • Trunk-or-treat, in which treats are given from trunks of cars lined up in large parking lots
  • Crowded indoor costume parties
  • Indoor haunted house where people may be crowded together and screaming
  • Hayrides or tractor rides with people outside your household
  • Using alcohol or drugs, which can cloud judgment and increase risky behaviors
  • Travel to a rural fall festival that is not in your community if you live in an area with community spread of COVID-19

IPS resuming classes Thursday. Indianapolis Public Schools students had an unexpected day off Tuesday after problems with the internet and online services across the district.

IPS initially called for a two-hour delay before canceling remote learning. Later Tuesday, IPS said the issues had been resolved.

However, Wednesday was a scheduled Parents in Touch Day for virtual parent-teacher conferences, meaning no remote learning was planned. Classes will resume Thursday.

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