INDIANAPOLIS (FOX19) - Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed more executive orders extending the state of emergency and school closures to help Hoosiers and slow down the spread of the coronavirus.
On Thursday, 17 new cases of COVID-19 were reported by the Indiana State Department of Health, bringing the number of Hoosiers who have been diagnosed with the virus to 56.
Two people in Indiana have died from coronavirus.
The new cases are in the following counties:
- Howard (3)
- Lake (1)
- Marion (8)
- Owen (1)
- St. Joseph (2)
- Tippecanoe (1)
- Wayne (1)
During a press conference Thursday, Gov. Holcomb announced all K-12 public schools will stay closed until May 1 and non-public schools are to close as well.
Schools could be closed for the rest of the year if the situation worsens, he added.
Holcomb also announced that all state-mandated assessments have been canceled.
The current state of emergency, which is set to expire on April 5, has been extended by 30 days.
Gov. Holcomb made several announcements as it relates to the state’s economy and personal finances:
- State income taxes won’t be due until July 15.
- Penalties will be waived for 60 days for property taxes paid after May 11. The state will work with counties that may experience cash flow stress because of the delay.
- The state’s application to the U.S. Small Business Administration was approved on Wednesday. This program provides targeted, low-interest loans of up to $2 million to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue as a result of coronavirus.
- Essential utility services (gas, electric, broadband, telecom, water, wastewater) cannot be disconnected
- No residential evictions or foreclosures will be allowed but the governor’s order does not allow people to stop paying rent or their mortgage payments.
Thursday’s press conference included several measures related to unemployment insurance benefits:
- The state will interpret Indiana’s unemployment laws to the broadest extent possible to cover Hoosiers who are out of work because of COVID-19.
- Benefits will be paid to individuals who file their initial unemployment claims late.
- The Department of Workforce Development will allow individuals to continue to accrue unemployment eligibility if they take work leave because of COVID-19.
- DWD will seek federal authorization to provide unemployment benefits for those who are not otherwise eligible for unemployment, such as individuals who have recently started a job.
- For employers, DWD will not assess certain experience rate penalties due to employees who receive unemployment benefits because of COVID-19.
As it relates to those in the Healthy Indiana Plan and the Children’s Health Insurance Program:
- People who are covered by these programs will not be required to make premium payments.
- Non-payment of premiums for insurance will not result in a cancelation because a 60-day moratorium is being requested by the Department of Insurance Commissioner.
The commissioner will also be asking for the following:
- Health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing without requiring prior authorization.
- Health insurers to not increase prices or coverage costs that involve medical care for COVID-19.