State Officials Discuss Medical Supplies, Childcare, Finances during COVID-19 Update

Indiana continues to see new COVID-19 cases, as testing increases. State Health Commissioner Dr. Kris Box says the number of people tested has increased from fewer than 300 a week ago to more than 3,300 on Wednesday, with about 14 percent of those tests coming back positive.

“While this rate may seem high, it’s expected because we’re testing the highest-risk individuals: those who are ill and those who are at high risk for exposure because of where they work or whom they work with,” Box said during state officials’ Wednesday press conference.

State agencies say they’re also trying to encourage schools to reopen their buildings to offer childcare services for emergency workers. Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Jennifer McCormick said her department will focus those efforts on areas with the greatest need. “We have provided guidance to schools,” she explained. “This is not mandatory. We are going to determine where those needs are, contact those superintendents within that area, and proceed on.”

McCormick added that schools are gathering personal protective equipment like gloves, masks, and gowns from their science labs, to send them to healthcare workers. More significantly, Commissioner Box said the state has gotten its second allotment of supplies from Strategic National Stockpile. “We did get four or five trucks in the last two days,” Box said. “It involves having face masks, face masks with shields. It involved gloves. It involved N95 masks, and it involved some gowns. So we are in the process of putting that all together, picking it, getting it ready, and actually, today, are getting that out to some of our hospital systems, especially, and local health departments that needed that.”

Indiana Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger said the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has vetted over 115 companies who have offered to help manufacture personal protective equipment.

Governor Eric Holcomb felt that, at least from an economic and financial perspective, Indiana was prepared for the emergency, noting that the state has a surplus of over $2 billion that can be used to help with the response. “This is the exact reason why we were so fiscally prudent year after year after year after year,” the governor said. “When I said we were going to war with this, that’s not rhetorical. I didn’t say that for effect. We weren’t trying to amass a surplus for a bumper sticker slogan. It was for this day.”

Holcomb said state officials are starting to put together a recovery package.