INDIANAPOLIS — There were several developments in the coronavirus pandemic that you may have missed overnight.
Here’s a look:
We expect to hear from two leaders today, Mayor Joe Hogsett and Governor Eric Holcomb, as they discuss the impact of the coronavirus and where we stand in regards to reopening the economy.
Today at 1 p.m., Hogsett will announce a partnership while giving an update on how the pandemic has impacted Marion County. Hogsett says it will be “an economic restart program to help local restaurants, museums, small businesses and more.” Other city leaders are expected to attend the announcement.
Governor Eric Holcomb will have his weekly COVID-19 update at 2:30 p.m. That’s when we’ll learn if Indiana is still on track to fully reopen this holiday weekend and enter Stage 5 of Indiana’s Back on Track plan.
During the final stage, retail stores, bars and restaurants will reopen at full capacity and sports events and conventions can return with face coverings recommended.
Then tomorrow we’ll hear from the Marion County Health Department on the next steps for COVID-19 restrictions and whether the county plans to follow the rest of the state.
Indy streets that closed to give restaurants more seating space plan to reopen to traffic soon. DPW will remove the barriers put in place on portions of Mass Ave, Broad Ripple Ave, Illinois Street and Georgia Street on July 6.
The streets closed in May to give restaurants and bars more space for outside dining.
Leaders in several states are ordering people to wear masks in public.
Here’s a list of states where masks are required in public when social distancing is not possible: Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois, Michigan, Maine, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Indiana does not have a mask requirement, but some communities and counties in the state do.
Starting today, Elkhart County will require face masks in outdoor public areas and indoors when social distancing can’t be followed.
St. Joseph County also has a mask order through September 7.
Top health officials are banking on a new approach to dramatically boost U.S. screening for the coronavirus: combining test samples in batches instead of running them one by one.
The principle is simple: Instead of running each person’s test individually, laboratories would combine parts of nasal swab samples from several people and test them together. A negative result would clear everyone in the batch. A positive result would require each sample to be individually retested.
Pooling works best with lab-run tests, which take hours — not the much quicker individual tests used in clinics or doctor’s offices.
The potential benefits include stretching laboratory supplies, reducing costs and expanding testing to millions more Americans who may unknowingly be spreading the virus.
For now, federal health regulators have not cleared any labs or test maker to use the technique. The Food and Drug Administration issued guidelines for test makers in mid-June and wants each to first show that mixing samples doesn’t reduce accuracy, one of the potential downsides.
So it’s not clear when pooled testing may be available for mass screenings at schools and businesses.