As your representative in Washington, I want to relay to you the latest details on COVID-19 -- also known as coronavirus -- and what can be done to minimize risk to exposure.
Update From the Indiana State Department of Health
As of noon today, there have been 113,337 confirmed positive cases in the state of Indiana. 3,305 Hoosiers have died as a result of COVID-19.
A total of 1,916,433 tests have been administered.
The complete list of counties with cases is included in the ISDH COVID-19 dashboard at https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/, which is updated every day at 12:00pm.
My office stands ready to assist constituents with any questions or concerns.
Unemployment, Social Services and Small Businesses
In these challenging and uncertain times, the state is providing a variety of key resources to support Hoosiers impacted by COVID-19.
Resources for Unemployed Workers
- To contact the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) regarding unemployment insurance, which must be completed electronically, click here or call 800-891-6499.
- Due to high call volume, some calls are getting a message that the phone number is not working. DWD is working to correct this and answer calls as quickly as possible.
- To watch a presentation by the DWD covering the basics of filing for unemployment insurance, click here.
Social Services Assistance
- To find information on a variety of community resources, including food, housing and health care assistance, call 2-1-1 or click here.
- To find critical-care work opportunities serving children, seniors and people with disabilities, click here.
As the situation continues to unfold, the Senate Republicans’ COVID-19 resource page will be constantly updated with available resources and information.
Messages from Cameron hospital, Parkview Health and IU Health:
- Follow the Cameron Memorial Facebook page and the Parkview Health Facebook page to keep up with latest relevant information and guidance on the virus.
- If you have questions, please consider this your first stop.
Cameron Memorial can direct questions to their COVID-19 Resource Line at (260) 667-5555. A team member will be available to answer questions and connect you with relevant resources.
If you feel symptoms or know someone who believes they are feeling symptoms of COVID-19, please refer to this resource page on parkview.com for screening resources.
More information on COVID-19, including answers to frequently asked questions, can be found at cdc.gov/covid19. Information can also be found on the Allen County Department of Health website or by calling the department’s COVID-19 hotline at 260-449-4499.
- IU Health is currently offering a free virtual screening for the COVID-19 virus online or through a mobile app. The virtual screening will be staffed 24/7 by IU health professionals. The medical professionals will recommend and facilitate next steps for patients based on the virtual screening results.
You can access the virtual screening through an app on the Apple store here, an app on the Google Play store here, or an online portal here.
Many caregivers are navigating how to talk to their kids during the #COVID19 emergency. Please share this video containing several tips on this topic with any caregivers you know who might be struggling during this time.
Milk banking – much like blood banking or food banking – is a critical need and particularly at risk during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now more than ever, The Milk Bank needs donations. Learn more about being a donor http://themilkbank.org/donate-milk.
Help with Alcohol, Opioid and Other Drug Addicition
COVID-19 has proven to be a high-risk situation for many Hoosiers that struggle with excessive alcohol use. Has this current pandemic impacted you or a loved one? Click here for tips on how to get the help needed at this time.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an drug/opioid-related problem, you can call DMHA’s Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990 for crisis counseling. Calls are toll-free, multi-lingual and confidential. Hoosiers can also text “TalkWithUs” to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
You can also call the Indiana State Department of Health at 317-233-7125 (or 317-233-1325 after 8 p.m.) -- but please we aware that the center is fielding an extremely high call volume with those concerned about COVID-19.
From Indiana Governor Eric J. Holcomb and State Government
Indiana is finally in the fifth and final stage of the Back On Track reopening plan.
Note: According to the governor's office, face coverings are still required.
Size limitations on social gatherings have been removed, though events holding over 500 people should get approval from their local health department.
Restaurants and bars may be open at full capacity with physical distancing measures remaining in place. Capacity levels at gyms and fitness centers have also been lifted and facilities can open with continued distancing and sanitation precautions.
Senior centers and meal sites can also be opened, again with certain precautions remaining in place.
Stage 5 has been adjusted slightly, not every establishment will not be able to operate at their original capacity because of the social distancing rules, as was originally planned when the stages of the plan were announced.
Tax Filings, Student Loans, K-12 Education
Click here to learn more about the decision to move back the IRS deadline for filing taxes from April 15 to July 15, giving millions of taxpayers more time to fill out their tax forms as coronavirus upends daily life across the country.
Click here to learn more about President Trump's decision to waive interest on all federal student loans "until further notice" -- an unprecedented move that will provide relief to more than 42 million Americans who owe more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding federal student loans.
Click here to learn more about the U.S. Department of Education's decision to not enforce federal standardized testing requirements for K-12 schools.
Click here to learn more about the U.S. State Department issuing a level-four travel advisory applying to all international travel -- advising Americans to not travel abroad. The advisory instructs all Americans abroad to either return to the United States or prepare to shelter in place.
Click here to learn more about President Trump's decision to restrict travel from China on January 31 -- a decision that has been praised as having bought the United States much-needed time to prepare for and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Making China Pay
I sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Attorney General William Barr in May urging them to bring a case against China to the International Court of Justice (ICIJ) for the country’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The letter was co-signed by 22 other lawmakers. It states that China has violated the 2005 International Health Regulations by suppressing information about the COVID-19 outbreak in the city of Wuhan earlier this year and underreporting the number of infections and deaths caused by the contagion.
Read more here.
I sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in April urging her to include provisions in the COVID-19 stimulus package to disentangle the United States' medical supply chain from China. 97% of antibiotics and a large portion of pharmaceutical products used domestically are manufactured in China.
- Why is that scary? China recently threatened to cut off medical exports to the US and "plunge America into the mighty sea of coronavirus." Even if we discount the risk of hostile action from China, COVID-19 has destabilized global supply chains which could prevent Americans from receiving needed medical products.
- We need immediate, short-term Band-Aids to counteract the consequences of COVID-19, but this stimulus package should also include long-term solutions to an underlying threat to the health of every American—our reliance on China for crucial medical products.
Re-Open Our Schools!
If we fail to reopen our schools in the fall, we will fail to deliver on that promise for the 55 million students who depend on our public school system.
We are at risk of having an entire generation of children fall permanently behind. If that happens, our children’s futures will be the biggest casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That's why I've introduced the Reopen Our Schools Act in Congress to incentivize schools to reopen for in-person learning in the Fall.
My bill says if a school refuses to reopen, they must apply for a waiver from the Department of Education and risk losing federal funding.
My goal is to encourage schools to come up with a plan to safely reopen by September 8th.
Remote Learning Isn’t Working
A recent study found students made little to no progress in their studies from the point when schools shut down.
According to new projections, children are expected to return to school in the fall with less than 70% of learning gains in reading and 37-50% gains in math relative to a typical school year. Compounded with the typical “summer slide,” where children can lose up 20% of school-year gains in reading and 27% of school-year gains in math, we are at risk of having some of our children start in the Fall half a grade or even a whole grade behind!
3/4 of teachers say distance learning is causing students to fall behind. By a six to one margin, teachers say they are worried about their students, and half of teachers are “very” worried.
Hurting the Disadvantaged
Attempting to implement virtual learning also revealed America’s “digital divide.” Children from rural or poorer families lack access to high speed internet and could not complete classwork.
The Purdue Center for Regional Development conducted a study in Indiana, in which 25% of respondents said they rely on cellular data or satellites for internet access. EducationSuperHighway estimates 20% of students nationwide don’t have access to the technology they need for remote learning.
School lunch programs are losing millions trying to find and feed hungry students outside of the classroom, and reports suggest they could be “broke by fall.”
It’s no wonder less affluent families are much more likely than their affluent counterparts to send their kids back to school when they reopen.
If children aren’t physically in school, parents that rely on in-person learning can’t go to work. More than half of Hoosier children live in a household where both parents work, and the highest proportion of such families live in rural and suburban areas. Keeping schools closed hurts working families, and if parents can’t return to work, there will be sweeping economic repercussions in our state.
Exacerbating the STEM Crisis
Children are losing learning gains in math faster than reading. Long before the pandemic, we were already in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) crisis.
Falling behind in STEM has broad societal implications, especially implications for our national security and our global competition with China. In 2018, the U.S. ranked 36th out 79 geographic areas in math scores in the Programme for International Student Assessment.
China’s not waiting for a vaccine to reopen. Students in Wuhan, ground zero of the coronavirus pandemic, went back to school in May. Unless we want to live in a world dominated by a hegemonic China, we need to fix our STEM crisis, not exacerbate it by keeping our schools closed.
In the competitive global economy, there will be serious consequences to allowing an entire generation of American kids to fall behind. For their sake and for ours, we must reopen our schools.
If you believe you are beginning to feel symptoms of COVID-19, follow the CDC's guidelines.
Patients with mild disease will recover in two weeks. For those with severe disease, about 20%, recovery is three to six weeks.
The virus is spread through coughs and sneezes. When a patient coughs into their hand and then touches a surface they can place the virus on that surface. If a person comes along and touches that surface and then their mouth or nose, or eyes, they can contract the virus.
List of Symptoms
Symptoms include the loss of taste of or smell (which studies have shown to be the first symptom in 25% of COVID cases) headache, muscle pain, sore throat, chills, and repeated shaking with chills.
If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, the CDC recommends contacting your medical provider about testing options.
Read more from the CDC here, or at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/testing.html.
Make A Difference
Wash your hands! One of the simplest prevention measures one can take is proper hand-washing.
The CDC recommends washing hands with soap and water before eating, after using the bathroom, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before and after caring for a sick friend or a family member.
Stay home when you are sick! Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
"Should I wear a face mask?"
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that people wear cloth face coverings to slow spread of coronavirus in public settings, where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain, such as grocery stores and pharmacies.
This recommendation is not a substitute for existing guidance on maintaining 6-feet of physical distance and washing your hands. Those measures continue to be critical.
Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items, or made at home from common materials at low cost, and can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure to help slow the spread. Click here for more information on making and using a facemask.
The cloth face coverings are not surgical masks or N-95 respirators. Those critical supplies must continue to be reserved for healthcare workers and other medical first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
Cloth face coverings should not be placed on young children (younger than age 2) or on anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.