While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for April 17

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.

Here’s a look:

President Donald Trump introduced his plan to reopen the nation’s economy as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

He announced the three-step plan during the Coronavirus Task Force briefing on Thursday.

In phase one, the plan recommends strict social distancing for all people in public. Gatherings larger than 10 people are to be avoided, and nonessential travel is discouraged.

In phase two, people are encouraged to maximize social distancing and limit gatherings to no more than 50 people unless precautionary measures are taken. Travel could resume.

Phase three envisions a return to normalcy for most Americans, with a focus on identification and isolation of any new infections.

The guidelines recommend that states pass checkpoints that look at new cases, testing and surveillance data over the prior 14 days before advancing from one phase to another.

Governor Holcomb didn’t give a date for when Trump’s plan could begin in Indiana, but said it’s coming soon.

“I’m not putting a May 1 date out there or a May 2 or May 7 or May 8, but we are thinking early May,” Governor Holcomb said.

Governor Holcomb is joining the governors of Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Ohio and Kentucky, and they’re working together as a region, hoping to hit the ground running come May.

“If the trends continue and we continue to make progress, we’re all thinking about that smart restart opening of our states, in a very gradual and methodical way,” Governor Holcomb said.

While state and federal leaders may be anxious to reopen the economy, health leaders say this decision is based on science.

Governor Holcomb said he’s reached out to every industry in Indiana and asked them for their suggestions and their plans to safely reopen. He expects those responses by April 22.

Today at noon the Indiana Election Commission will meet virtually to make a final decision on the June 2 primary. They will focus on how the primary will run, how people can cast their vote, and how people can stay safe while voting.

Last month, the governor pushed back the primary from May 5 to that new date in June because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of this morning, it looks like in-person polls will still be an option, but for the first time, every voter has the option to vote by mail in Indiana.

The secretary of state say her number one goal is to make sure every Hoosier’s voice is heard during these uncertain times.

Voters should be prepared for delayed results with more people voting by mail.

Kroger and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union are calling on the state and federal government to designate grocery store workers as extended first responders or emergency personnel during this pandemic.

This is designed to give them priority access to personal protective equipment like masks and gloves.

Many stores are taking more precautions to protect employees but feel the government could help.

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