While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for July 16

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

Here’s a look:

On Wednesday, Governor Holcomb announced the state will stay in Stage 4.5 until the end of the month—thus putting the pressure on school districts to decide what’s right for their students and staff.

Some have decided to push back their start dates, while others will stick to a July start.

Each school district is coming up with a plan to best fit their community.

Warren Township recently announced they will postpone their start date. They will start on August 6 instead of July 29. They say this is to ensure they have plans and protocols in place to keep everyone safe. That includes masks being required for students, staff, and teachers. They will also be required to stay at least 6-feet apart. Cleaning and sanitizing practices will be enhanced too.

Lawrence Township is another district that decided to push back its start date to August. Students’ first day is Monday, August 3.

Meanwhile, Avon still plans to start July 29.

Some are calling on Holcomb to provide more when it comes to reopening schools in Indiana.

Right now, the state has released suggestions, not requirements, for reopening. Holcomb said he is still considering whether to mandate masks in the classroom.

Democratic State Representative Chris Campbell said Indiana is sitting on the sidelines as school districts try to figure out how to safely reopen.

She would like the governor to not only mandate safety precautions but to fund those mandates.

Holcomb said there are multiple streams for funding, including the CARES Act, and he said an announcement is coming regarding personal protective equipment help for schools.

Help is on the way for local independent music venues. The city announced a grant program to help hot spots maintain overhead costs through the pandemic.

The roughly 25 music venues in Marion County will try to get a piece of the $125,000 pool of grant money.

Some venues are in debt of a million dollars or more.

When the pandemic started, 44 venues across the state formed the Indiana Independent Venue Alliance. The non-profit group helps coordinate safety protocols for venues.

“We are very grateful for this starting point because no one else is stepping up and offering that. So we are glad to have it, but we are looking for more,” Josh Baker, co-owner of HiFi, said.

The alliance says their number one request from fans and artists is for outdoor venues. HiFi in Fountain Square built one in a parking lot in two weeks. Their opening night for the outdoor venue is Friday.

Kroger, Kohl’s, and Walmart are among the stores requiring their customers to wear face masks.

It looks like more and more retailers are lining up behind mask-wearing mandates. In fact, the National Retail Federation, the main lobbying group for the industry, is pushing for it.

Initially, it said a many stores were worried about making people mad by asking people to wear masks, or they just didn’t want to put their employees in the position of having to enforce it.

But there’s been a shift recently as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S.

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