BY THE NUMBERS
Number of Statewide Cases: 29,274 (+569)
Marion County Cases: 8,656 (+115)
Hamilton County Cases: 1,054 (+12)
Johnson County Cases: 1,029 (+13) US Cases: 1.53M
Global Cases: 4.93M
Number of Statewide Deaths: 1,716 (+38) Number of Marion County Deaths: 505 (+8) US Deaths: 92,128 (+1,696)
Global Deaths: 324,240 (+5,027)
Number of new Hoosiers Filing for Unemployment: 30,691 as of 5/14/20
President Trump Issues Executive Order on Regulatory Relief
President Trump signed an Executive Order on Tuesday directing federal agencies to consider deregulatory actions they may take to bolster economic growth. The order directs agency heads to identify regulations they believe to be hindering economic recovery and provides agency heads authority to rescind, modify, waive, or provide exemptions from such regulations. The move is seen as an effort to boost an economy that has seen more than 35 million people file for unemployment over the course of the past eight weeks.
US Chamber Publishes Guides
This morning, the U.S. Chamber published a new Paycheck Protection Program Guide to Forgiveness. Like their previous guides, this document provides businesses with an easy to understand explanation of what they need to do to apply for forgiveness of their PPP loans. Click here to download the guide. Please note, this guide will be updated as new guidance is issued by the Dept. of the Treasury.
Last week, as part of the Path Forward initiative, the U.S. Chamber unveiled its Reopening Business Digital Resources Center to equip America's business community with the latest state guidelines, sector-specific guidance, small business advice, and other tools and resources as we look to reopen safely and keep employees and customers healthy and informed.
Now, the resources center also includes a customizable workplace flyer to help you and your members communicate the steps your company is taking to keep them safe and prevent the spread of COVID-19 to employees and customers.
In addition to the Reopening Business Digital Resources Center, and as you and your members face new questions and unprecedented new challenges, the U.S. Chamber has also created a comprehensive toolkit of key messages, example posts, and social media graphics for you to utilize while sharing the tools and resources with your local business communities and networks.
Click here to view the U.S. Chamber's new Small Business Reopening Playbook which provides in-depth information and resources for you and your members as you plan and prepare to reopen and get back to work. Considering that reopening strategies will largely depend on the state and business type, this guide has consolidated federal, state, and local guidelines, industry-specific resources, insights and strategies from leading experts, and more. The playbook is now available to download in Spanish—click here to learn more.
USDA Announces Direct Assistance to Farmers
Yesterday, the Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced plans to provide direct assistance to farmers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP).
The relief will provide up to $16 billion in direct payments to farmers and ranchers impacted by the pandemic. In addition to direct payments, USDA’s Farmers to Food Box Program will partner with regional and local distributors to purchase $3 billion in fresh produce, dairy, and meat. The food boxes will be delivered to Americans in need.
Agricultural producers that have suffered losses during the pandemic can begin submitting applications to USDA on May 26. A press release on the announcement is here.
HHS, Industry Partners Expand Manufacturing Base
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has partnered with private industry groups to expand pharmaceutical manufacturing in the United States. The team will be led by the Phlow Corporation, which will produce active pharmaceutical ingredients and chemical compounds to make critical medicines to prevent drug shortages across the country. Phlow will use advanced manufacturing processes to lower production costs and reduce waste. All drugs manufactured will be for patients hospitalized by the coronavirus. All manufacturing will take place in the United States.
The four year, $354 million deal was reached with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and can be extended to up to $812 million over the course of 10 years. Private groups participating alongside Phlow include AMPAC Fine Chemicals, Civica Rx, and the Medicines for All Institute at the Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering. A press release from HHS is here.
Department of Labor Issues Revised Enforcement Policies
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a subsidiary of the Department of Labor, has revised policies for the enforcement of certain requirements with respect to COVID-19 as states begin to reopen across the country. OSHA has revised two
enforcement policies in an effort to ensure employers are taking necessary action to protect their employees. OSHA will increase in-person inspections at all types of workplaces and make adjustments to its enforcement policy for recording cases of COVID-19. Employers will be required to report cases of the virus if it is confirmed as coronavirus by medical professionals, is work-related, or if it involves one or more of the general recording criteria as defined in the Federal Register (29 CFR 1904.7). Such criteria include instances such as an employee needing medical treatment beyond first aid or missing multiple days of work. The record-keeping requirements apply to all U.S. businesses, with the exception of employers with ten or fewer employees. A press release from DOL, as well as links to the updated guidance, is here.
President Trump Extends Executive Order on Immigration
The Trump Administration has extended a public health order that cuts off immigration to the United States until it has determined that COVID-19 no longer poses a threat to the American public. CDC published an indefinite extension of the order Tuesday. The order was first introduced in March and cut off immigration for 30 days, before being extended for an additional 30 days in April. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf called the order “one of the most critical tools the Department has used to prevent the spread of the virus and protect the American people.” The Trump Administration also announced it has extended travel restrictions with Canada and Mexico for an additional 30 days.
Large U.S. Retailers End Hazard Pay for Workers
Some of the largest U.S. retailers, including Amazon, Kroger, and Rite Aid, are beginning to wind down hazard pay for employees. The effort to increase worker pay through hourly increases or bonuses was seen as an expression of gratitude to employees showing up for work during the height of the pandemic. The announcement has been met with criticism from workers and unions alike, who argue workers are still at a heightened risk given the pandemic is still ongoing. Retailers on the other hand argue that costs related to procuring personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as sanitizing stores and distribution centers, are proving to be substantial. In a statement Tuesday, Home Depot said it has spent $850 million in increased pay, benefits, and protective safety measures in the first quarter alone. Amazon, Kroger, and Rite Aid all originally announced they would pay employees an extra $2 an hour during the pandemic. Amazon will continue to do so through the end of May. Kroger will do so through the end of the week and provide full-time employees with a one-time payment of $400, and part-time employees with a payment of $200. Rite Aid ended extra pay for its employees on May 16.
Trump Expresses Opposition to Extending Unemployment Benefits Enacted in Response to Pandemic
President Trump on Tuesday privately expressed opposition to extending a weekly $600 boost in unemployment insurance for laid-off workers affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to three officials familiar with his remarks during a closed-door lunch with Republican senators on
Capitol Hill. The increased unemployment benefits — paid by the federal government but administered through individual states — were enacted this year as part of a broader $2 trillion relief package passed by Congress. The boost expires this summer, and House Democrats have proposed extending the aid through January 2021. But congressional Republicans have said they are concerned that some workers are making more money on unemployment insurance than if they were on payroll and therefore have less incentive to return to work or find a new job.
Many economists fear cutting off the benefits extension could hamper economic recovery. Government spending on unemployment benefits rose by $45 billion from February to April, offsetting slightly more than half of the decline in private wages and salary, according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution. Republicans have maintained that the higher benefit will give workers an incentive to stay at home rather than go to work, but eliminating the massive cash infusion could further depress demand amid fears consumers are already cutting back dramatically on spending. Trump’s advisers have expressed confidence the economy will quickly recover, a view at odds with many economists.
As of Today, All 50 States Have Begun Loosening Some Lockdown Restrictions.
“Amid these concerns about the risk of increased activity, every governor in the country has issued new guidelines removing bans on businesses and public gatherings to various degrees. One governor, in particular, Alaska’s Mike Dunleavy, said he would reopen his state entirely before Memorial Day weekend,” Teo Armus reports. “Just four other states — North Dakota, South Dakota, Missouri, and Wyoming — appear to have similarly lenient orders in place, according to an analysis by The Post, though all will remain in their reopening process through Memorial Day.”
- A Michigan coronavirus patient was stopped at the airport while trying to board a plane. Health authorities said the individual had tested positive but instead of staying in the state, they insisted on flying home to a different state. Officials issued a cease-and-desist order and warned Lansing’s airport to be on the lookout. (Antonia Farzan)
- Lake Geneva, a tranquil Wisconsin tourist town, has a new draw: Its restaurants are open. So people are driving in from Illinois. (Holly Bailey)
- Fifty-four percent of U.S. counties still do not have a single testing site, according to a report by health software company Castlight. (Axios)
- The Justice Department warned Californians that Gov. Gavin Newsom’s (D) pandemic measures and his plans to unwind them may discriminate against religious groups and violate their constitutional rights. (Los Angeles Times)
UPDATE: Holcomb to Activate Stage 3 of Reopening Plan Two Days Early
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he would activate Stage 3 of his pandemic reopening plan on Friday—two days earlier than previously scheduled. The change applies to the entire state, except for Marion, Lake and Cass counties, which will be allowed to start Stage 3 on
June 1 if local authorities approve of that move. Holcomb originally said Stage 3 would be activated on May 24. Stage 3 of the governor’s reopening plan allows:
– Social gatherings of up to 100 people;
– Gyms, YMCAs and fitness facilities to open, with restrictions;
– Community pools and campgrounds to open;
– Recreational sports practices to begin under guidelines, except for contact sports;
– Basketball and tennis courts and soccer and baseball fields to open;
– Restaurant dining rooms to remain at 50% capacity;
– Retail stores and shopping malls to open at 75% capacity;
Remote work is still encouraged whenever possible in Stage 3. Bars, nightclubs and entertainment and sports venues are to remain closed. Casinos also must stay closed.
Youth summer day camps will be allowed to start June 1. Indiana State Health Commissioner Kristina Box said her team is working on local guidance for the camps, but she suggested people should get outdoors as much as possible and having boxed lunches. No overnight camps are allowed yet. Individuals are strongly encouraged—but not required—to wear a face mask when in public or around other people. “The No. 1 thing you can do is wear a mask when you’re around a lot of other people,” Holcomb said. Holcomb said he will sign an executive order Thursday that allows the state to move into Stage 3.
The governor said he also was extending until July 1 the prohibition on turning off utilities; extending the prohibition on filing mortgage foreclosures and evictions; and extending the deadlines to acquire or renew driver licenses, vehicle registrations and other BMV documentation. Stage 4 is still expected to start June 14, but Holcomb stressed that the date is written in pencil and could change. In that stage, groups of up to 250 people could gather, bars could reopen at 50% capacity, retailers could operate at 100% capacity, restaurants could have 75% capacity and sports and entertainment venues could reopen at 50% capacity. “Stage 2 is a very important stage that got us to Stage 3,” Holcomb said. “Stage 3 will be just as important, and it will determine if we get to Stage 4, when we get to Stage 4.”
CICP, Cummins Develop Return-to-Work Playbooks
As Indiana businesses begin to reopen, the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and Columbus- based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI) has released guides to share emerging best practices for reopening the workplace. The return-to-work playbooks focus on the manufacturing, logistics and warehousing, office, and customer-facing work settings. CICP Chief Executive Officer David Johnson says the playbooks are designed to help businesses as the era of COVID-19 continues over the next 12-18 months. In an interview on Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick, Johnson said Cummins provided a unique perspective on the situation. "Tom Linebarger and his team at Cummins, who has been living with COVID-19 really since January when it affected their operations in China, have really given a lot both to the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership and to the community and the state by helping to think through and work through what you actually would do if you were trying to go back into the workplace and make it as productive as it can possibly be in an era of social distancing," said Johnson. The playbooks include:
- Safe Return to Work for Indiana’s Manufacturing, Logistics, and Warehousing Sectors: Keeping our Hoosier workers safe so they can restart the state
- Safe Return to Work for Indiana’s Office Environments: Keeping our Hoosier workers safe so they can restart the state
- Safe Return to Work for Indiana’s Sales and Service Operations: Keeping our Hoosier workers safe so they can restart the state
The CICP says each playbook includes recommendations and best practices from health experts and organizations, in addition to other officials and company leaders. The playbooks feature a section on key decisions businesses can consider prior to restarting. Linebarger says the best practices came from multiple sources. "These practices aren't all developed by Cummins by a long shot. We basically talked to every one of our suppliers, customers, peers and said, 'Tell us all the things that you're doing' and we researched all those. We put in place practices for how to keep social distancing in a manufacturing plant; that often means relaying out the line and changing the way work is done at the plant. We talked about protective equipment...and then how do we do screening questions? There are just so many details to think about." Linebarger says as Cummins was coming up with best practices for its own operations, the decision was made to share them with other businesses who may not have the same resources but still need to take the same precautions. You also connect to the playbooks by clicking here.
Hogsett Announces Reopening Resources
As the Indianapolis economy begins to re-emerge from COVID-related closures, Mayor Joe Hogsett and city leaders say new measures will help restaurants and small businesses safely reopen. Measures include fast-tracked permitting and limited street closures for five pedestrian-friendly areas with high commercial activity. The city says the Dine Out initiative aims to support the recovery of local establishments and hopes to position them to thrive upon reopening. The initiative helps create outdoor seating following extensive engagement with local restaurants and businesses and includes staff and resources from multiple city departments.
“We are committed to helping ensure that as restaurants and businesses begin to reopen, the safety of employees, business owners, and patrons continues to be a top priority,” said Hogsett. “We recognize how critical small businesses are to the livelihood of our residents, of our economy, and of our character. We will clear as many obstacles as we can to make sure they can continue to be an integral part of the Indianapolis economy.” The city says interested businesses must complete the application to begin operations on May 22.
Links to all executive orders may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/2384.htm
Link to the Stay-At-Home Order FAQ may be found here: https://www.in.gov/gov/3232.htm
More information may be found at the ISDH website at in.gov/coronavirus/ and the CDC website at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.