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COVID-19 response memo, 7/29/20

On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced new use of force policies.

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COVID-19 response memo, 7/29/20

Happy Wednesday. Local, state, and federal highlights in today’s memo include:

  • Holcomb Extends Stage 4.5 of Indiana’s Recovery Plan Through Aug. 27

  • Meadows Says Benefits to Expire as Negotiators Struggle To Get Deal

  • Former Gov. Joe Kernan Dies at 74, After Battle With Alzheimer’s Disease

  • IPS to Begin School Year Fully Online as Coronavirus Cases Rise in Indiana

  • Teachers May Stage “Safety Strikes” If Forced Into Unsafe Schools, Union Leader Says

  • U.S. Chamber and MetLife Poll Shows Small Business Recovery Losing Steam Amid ‘Second Wave’ Concerns

  • IMPD Releases New Use of Force Policies

  • Important Dates

  • Daily Numbers

    Let’s dive in.


Holcomb Extends Stage 4.5 of Indiana’s Recovery Plan Through Aug. 27


Breaking: Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he would issue an executive order to keep the state in Stage 4.5 of its pandemic recovery plan through Aug. 27. In addition, Holcomb said he was extending the state’s landlord moratorium on evictions though Aug. 14. The moratorium, which prohibits landlords from initiating court proceedings to kick out their tenants, has been in effect since mid-March.

Holcomb first announced Stage 4.5 of the Back on Track plan on July 4. It was initially supposed to cover the period from July 4-17, but the governor extended the stage for at least another two weeks. Stage 4.5 was not part of the original Back on Track plan but was implemented when officials became wary of moving from Stage 4 to Stage 5, representing full recovery with no restrictions on business and social behavior. Holcomb said the additional extension of Stage 4.5 to Aug. 27 was needed because Indiana’s COVID-19 testing positivity rate continues to rise. Local governments are allowed to issue more stringent plans.

Here is the plan, according to the state:

Stage 4.5 (through at least Aug. 27)

– Social gatherings following the CDC’s social distancing guidelines will be limited to up to 250 people. This limit applies to wedding receptions, parties, and other events where people are in close physical contact for extended periods of time, particularly indoors.

– Dining room food service may continue operations at up to 75 percent capacity as long as social distancing is observed. Bar seating in restaurants may continue operations at 50 percent capacity. Bars and nightclubs may operate at 50 percent capacity as long as they adhere to social distancing guidelines.

– Cultural, entertainment and tourism sites may operate at 50 percent capacity.

– Movie theaters, bowling alleys and similar facilities may operate at 50 percent capacity.

– Amusement parks, water parks and similar facilities may operate at 50 percent capacity. Reservations are encouraged to limit the number of customers at any one time.

– Raceways may operate at 50 percent grandstand capacity.

– Fairs, festivals and other similar outdoor events may open. Pari-mutuel horse racing and county and state fair racing may begin with 50 percent spectator capacity. Youth overnight camps may open. (Indianapolis Business Journal)

In addition, Gov. Holcomb says he’s willing to add more funding to the state’s $25 million rental assistance program if needed.

The state’s program, which launched July 13, has already received more than 20,000 applications, but the funds are expected to be enough to cover only about 12,000 households.

The program will provide households assistance of $500 per month for up to four months.

To be eligible for assistance, an individual must be able to show a loss of income from an involuntary job layoff, reduced work hours or reduced pay due to the pandemic. Applicants’ current household income, including unemployment benefits, must be less than their household income was on March 6.

A household also is ineligible for the program if it has already received emergency rental assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. Individuals won’t qualify if they are already receiving rental assistance through Section 8 vouchers or U.S. Department of Agriculture assistance.

A renter’s landlord must also agree to participate in the program. Payments will be made directly to the landlord, who must agree not to evict the tenant until he or she is at least 45 days delinquent.

The state is still processing the applications, but on Wednesday, Holcomb said his administration “will find the resources necessary to meet that need.”


Meadows Says Benefits to Expire as Negotiators Struggle To Get Deal


Breaking: White House chief of staff Mark Meadows said Wednesday that added unemployment benefits will formally expire on Friday as negotiators appear to be struggling to make any progress toward a bipartisan deal.

"Enhanced unemployment insurance provisions will expire," Meadows told reporters after a meeting with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer(D-N.Y.). Asked if he believed that it would happen now, he added: "I do."

Under the coronavirus relief package passed in March, Congress agreed to an additional $600-per-week federal benefit for those without a job during the pandemic. As drafted, the benefit is set to officially expire Friday, but because of the calendar and how most states disperse unemployment benefits they actually began to expire last Saturday. What to do about unemployment benefits has been a major sticking point for the chances of getting a bipartisan deal.

Democrats want to extend the $600 added benefit through the end of the year. Republicans, meanwhile, are proposing switching to a 70 percent wage replacement match. During the two-month transition to the new system, the federal government would provide a $200 per month federal unemployment benefit. (The Hill)

The Hill also reports that Republicans are hunting for a backup plan on coronavirus relief as bipartisan negotiations tasked with finding a deal appear to be making no measurable progress. 

The discussions come as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House chief of staff Mark Meadows have met every day this week with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer(D-N.Y.) but are, in their own words, “nowhere close to deal” and “very far apart.” 

With the clock ticking — the House was supposed to start a five-week break on Friday and the Senate on Aug. 7 — Senate Republicans and the White House are floating myriad alternative ideas as they try to figure out how to break the logjam. 

Sen. John Thune (S.D.), the No. 2 Senate Republican, said that if they can’t get one large agreement, they’ll have to look for a “Plan B” — just don't ask what that would be. “I don’t think so at this point,” Thune said, asked if there was a consensus on what the alternative could be. “There are a lot of different ideas floating right now. Nobody has settled on anything. We’re just listening and seeing where things go.”


Former Gov. Joe Kernan Dies at 74, After Battle With Alzheimer’s Disease


In Memoriam: Former Indiana Gov. Joseph Kernan, a gregarious Democrat who spent 11 months as a prisoner of war in Vietnam and served as mayor of South Bend, died Wednesday morning after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 74.

Kernan was elected lieutenant governor in 1996 running on a ticket with Democrat Frank O’Bannon. They were reelected in 2000, but O’Bannon died suddenly after a stroke in 2003, and Kernan ascended to the Governor’s Office.

He appointed Kathy Davis to be his lieutenant governor, making her the first woman to serve in the office in Indiana history. Kernan had decided the previous year not to seek a full term as governor, but he changed his mind two months after taking over, declaring “I don’t want to watch this from the sidelines.” However, he was defeated in 2004 by Republican Mitch Daniels.

After leaving office, Kernan return to South Bend, where he had been a three-term mayor (he won his last election there with 82% of the vote), and—after persuading 50 other members of the community to join him—purchased the minor league South Bend Silver Hawks baseball team, saving the team from leaving the city. (Indianapolis Business Journal)


IPS to Begin School Year Fully Online as Coronavirus Cases Rise in Indiana


Breaking: Indianapolis Public Schools will start the year entirely virtually, under a plan announced Wednesday by Superintendent Aleesia Johnson. 

The school board is expected to vote on the recommendation at a meeting Thursday. The district will begin the year Aug. 17, after delaying the start of school because of concerns over rising COVID-19 cases in Indiana and Marion County.  If the proposal is approved, the district will delay in-person instruction at least until October. (Chalkbeat)


Teachers May Stage “Safety Strikes” If Forced Into Unsafe Schools, Union Leader Says


What’s New: Teachers could go on strike “as a last resort” if they are forced to return to unsafe schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten warned Tuesday. The executive council of the 1.7 million-member American Federation of Teachers approved a resolution Friday — but did not release it until Tuesday — giving AFT affiliates across the country authorization to stage strikes. (Washington Post)


U.S. Chamber and MetLife Poll Shows Small Business Recovery Losing Steam Amid ‘Second Wave’ Concerns


What’s New: Earlier today, the U.S. Chamber and MetLife released the monthly Small Business Coronavirus Impact Poll - which surveys how small businesses nationwide are adapting their operations in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic while preparing amid concerns of a potential resurgence. Among other insights, the most recent poll finds that:

  • 86% of small businesses report that they are either fully or partially reopened;

  • 65% of small businesses are concerned about having to close their business, or stay closed, if there is a second wave of COVID-19;

  • 48% of small businesses say it could be anywhere from three months to a year before they anticipate rehiring most of their employees;

  • 64$ of PPP loan recipients are concerned about meeting the criteria necessary to receive loan forgiveness


IMPD Releases New Use of Force Policies


What’s New: On Wednesday, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced new use of force policies.

The department’s new use of force policies is as follows:

  • Outline clearly defined de-escalation requirements: The new policy explicitly outlines the use of de-escalation tactics such as communication, time, and distance and requires that officers attempt to de-escalate situations with the goal of resolving encounters without the use of force whenever feasible. IMPD training has included de-escalation techniques for some time, but the department’s commitment to de-escalation is now made explicit in the use of force policy itself.

  • Create a clear standard for use of deadly force: IMPD has adopted the standard for deadly force outlined by California Assembly Bill 392, which provides greater clarification and limitations on when deadly force may be used.

  • Prohibit the use of chokeholds: While IMPD training does not consider chokeholds an appropriate technique, the approved Use of Force policy explicitly prohibits this tactic or any similar neck restraint.

  • Require the use of proportionate force: Officers must use only the minimum amount of force appropriate, based on the circumstances known to the officer, to achieve the officer’s legitimate public safety objectives.

  • Define an officer’s duty to intervene and report when inappropriate force is used: Officers now have an explicit duty to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer and report any violation of the Use of Force policy to a supervisor. This was not previously outlined in IMPD’s Use of Force policy.

  • Clearly specify rules for using less-lethal force: The new use of force standards are outlined in two policies – one that governs the use of specific types of less-lethal devices, and one that covers IMPD’s general use of force principles. The rules for deployment of less-lethal levels of force are consistent with continuum of force and proportionality principles.

  • Prohibit shooting into, or from, moving vehicles.

  • Direct the department to review these policies for compliance with national best practices at least annually.

Additionally, IMPD says that any kind of force that is used will be reported and investigated according to the department’s existing policy. In the future and once the Use of Force Review Board is established, any force used by an IMPD officer will be reviewed by the board. The department says that a training curriculum, implementing the new use of force policies, is being developed. All officers will be trained with these new policies in mind, with some officers to begin training as soon as August.  IMPD’s new use of force policies comes after the department recently announced they were no longer using no-knock warrants. (WishTV)


Important Dates


Wednesday, September 2 - 10:00 am.                                                                   Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Senate Chamber

Thursday, September 3 - 10:00 am                                                                       Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404

Wednesday, October 14 - 10:00 am                                                                       Pension Management Oversight Study Committee - Room 404


By The Numbers …


COVID-19 Cases

New cases: 630

Total cumulative cases reported Wednesday: 64,299

Total cumulative cases reported Tuesday: 63,678

Increase in cumulative cases: 621

Increase in cases reported July 23-July 29: 5,652

Increase in cases reported July 16-22: 5,303

COVID-19 Deaths

New deaths: 8

Total deaths: 2,733

Increase in deaths reported July 23-July 29: 67

Increase in deaths reported July 16-22: 74

County Numbers

Marion County cumulative cases: 14,096 (increase of 142)

Marion County new deaths: 1

Marion County cumulative deaths: 714

Hamilton County cumulative cases: 2,316

Johnson County cumulative cases: 1,586

U.S. and Worldwide Numbers As of Wednesday, from Johns Hopkins University:

U.S. cases: 4,375,217

U.S. deaths: 149,684

Global cases: 16,797,288

Global deaths: 661,724

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