While you were sleeping: Coronavirus updates for May 19

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

Here’s a look:

Today, Mayor Joe Hogsett will announce the next steps for restaurants and diners in Marion County.

Restaurants will open for outdoor seating on Friday as long as they follow strict social distancing rules. It’s part of a limited “Phase Two” for reopening the county.

City leaders will outline extra measures they’re taking to help restaurants during this phase of reopening and also for future phases.

The city already launched an initiative on their website to help restaurants create or expand their outside dining areas so they can accommodate customers safely.

We can expect to hear more measures like that being offered to businesses today.

Also, city leaders are considering closing some roads downtown and in Broad Ripple so restaurants can keep diners safe and provide outdoor seating.

Restaurants have been hit hard during this time. The president of the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association tells us permanent closures will likely increase, saying the next 30 to 60 days are vital for restaurant owners.

Data from the association shows 66 percent of restaurants throughout the state haven’t been able to open at all—not even for carry out.

If data continues to show Marion County is heading in a positive direction, restaurants can possibly open indoor seating at half-capacity starting June 1.

Mayor Hogsett will announce his restaurant reopening plans around 10:30 this morning. We will stream it on our website.

Starting today, NFL teams can reopen facilities in accordance with state COVID-19 orders.

The Colts will be among those teams gradually reopening. Here’s what the first phase looks like for them…

No more than 50 percent of the staff can return to team facilities.

The NFL says staff can be split up at multiple locations as long as the number doesn’t exceed 75 people. 

However, coaches cannot return to the facility yet. In a memo from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, he said this is to maintain competitive advantage among all 32 teams. The guideline takes into account states that may have stricter stay at home policy.

Players cannot return yet either, but there is one exception. Those who are going through injury rehabilitation can return along with strength and conditioning coaches in charge of that rehabilitation.

Colts headquarters have been closed since mid-March. The team has relied on virtual meetings and workouts ever since.

“As soon as we can get more players in the building, we want that to make up for a little bit of lost time, so the sooner we can get out there and get working the better we will be,” Colts Head Coach Frank Reich said.

A lot of fans may wonder what Phillip Rivers is up to. Reich says he’s been providing feedback on team calls and getting reps in with a net he set up in his backyard.

The team’s mindset has been that they will have a regular season, and they hope the starters will get to play in at least three preseason games.

Some public recreational and fitness centers will open this weekend on a limited basis. The Monon Community Center opens their lap pool on Sunday, while the outdoor water park will remain closed until June 14.

Chlorine is known to kill viruses, although experts tell us it has not been tested with the coronavirus. 

They suspect any transmission will occur on surfaces like hand rails or lounge chairs. 

The Monon Community Center is limiting their lap pool to one member per lane, and people must reserve spaces.

Life guards will use bag masks in the event of an emergency. The equipment allows them to deliver resuscitation without having direct mouth-to-mouth contact.

For nearly 2 months, many residents followed Governor Holcomb’s stay-at-home order, meaning they limited travel and mobility. Researchers at IUPUI say we’re already seeing the environmental impact of that.

About a year ago, researchers conducted a study focusing on air quality. That was when everything was open, and people were driving to work and traveling.

This year during the shutdown they took another look and found the smog and air pollutants had gone down 25 percent.

One IUPUI professor says you can see and feel the results when you breathe.

“The improved air quality is one dramatic improvement from this otherwise tragic pandemic, and I think the key takeaways, not just for people as individuals but for cities, states and governments, is we can see the impact of improved air on our cities and towns. That’s going to improve our health,” Gabriel Filippelli, professor of sciences at IUPUI and director for the Center for Urban Health, said.

Filipelli says some countries around the world, specifically Italy, are looking into banning cars in their downtown area.

Researchers warn this study is still in its early stages.

Filippilli says he and others are still looking at the data and all the variables, but he says it’s encouraging to see what could happen if we make slight changes to our daily lives.

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