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Rural Indiana virus worry: ‘What more could I have done?'

GREENSBURG, Ind. (AP) — Three southeast Indiana counties have among the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rates in the country. Sean Durbin is the public health preparedness coordinator for one of them, Decatur County. While Durbin works to stem the spread of the virus, he's also grieving the loss of a close friend to it. And he's been staying apart from his wife so she can help their daughter with their new grandchild. The virus has claimed at least 10 lives in Decatur County. Durbin says every death makes him question if he's doing enough to quell the public health crisis.


Indiana governor urges churches to stay closed amid pandemic

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Gov. Eric Holcomb is urging Indiana churches, synagogues and other faith venues to remain closed and adhere to social distancing guidelines during services and observances for Passover and Easter to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Holcomb told reporters Thursday that people should “get the word and get home.” His office says services should be held online. For churches holding drive-in or drive-up services, people should remain in their vehicles and have no physical interaction with others. As of Thursday, Indiana had 6,351 confirmed cases following corrections to the previous day’s total and 245 deaths due to complications from the COVID-19 virus.


Indianapolis officer fatally shot on domestic violence call

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indianapolis police say an officer has been shot and killed while responding to a domestic violence call, authorities said Thursday. Police Chief Randal Taylor says 24-year-old Officer Breann Leathd died at Eskanazi Hospital following the Thursday afternoon shooting. Mayor Joe Hogsett says  “Officer Leath made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of her brothers and sisters and made the ultimate sacrifice for an ever grateful city.” He has directed that flags in the city be lowered to half-staff. Deputy Police Chief Chris Bailey said Leath had been on the force 2 1/2 years. He says a suspect is in custody.


Storms packing high winds cause damage in Indiana, Arkansas

MOORESVILLE, Ind. (AP) — Severe storms with high winds, hail and possible tornadoes have caused damage to dozens of homes and businesses in parts of Indiana and Arkansas. A few injuries were reported following Wednesday night’s storms. The threat of more severe weather is forecast for the coming days throughout much of the United States. Police in the central Indiana community of Mooresville say storms  knocked the second story off a two-story vacant building. One woman was slightly injured after power lines fell on her car. In the Arkansas town of Harrisburg, more than 30 homes were damaged in Poinsett County. Two people were injured.


Officials close Indiana state parks, trails to contain virus

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State officials have closed trails at some of Indiana's most popular state parks and campgrounds in response to large crowds gathering outdoors disregarding social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. As warmer weather is drawing more residents outside, the state's Department of Natural Resources issued new restrictions on camping and some trail uses, closing all campgrounds through April 20. The Indianapolis Star reported that biking and horseback riding on all unpaved DNR properties are temporarily suspended as well. In recent weeks, county commissioners have also issued an orange-level travel restriction for the area, meaning all and any travel must be only for essential reasons and emergency situations.


ACLU of Indiana: New panhandling law violates free speech

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that a new law tightening Indiana’s restrictions on panhandling violates the First Amendment by all but banning solicitation in cities. The federal lawsuit filed Thursday seeks a temporary injunction to block the law from taking effect July 1. The ACLU of Indiana's legal director, Ken Falk, says the law would leave “virtually no sidewalks in downtown Indianapolis or any downtown area in any Indiana city" where people can ask for money. He says courts have recognized panhandling as protected by the First Amendment.


Great Lakes get extra funds for cleanups, invasive species

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — Federal officials say additional funds provided by Congress will help clean up toxic sites and otherwise protect the Great Lakes. Lawmakers put $320 million into this year's budget for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which deals with longstanding pollution issues. That's $20 million more than usual. Environmental Protection Agency chief Andrew Wheeler said Thursday that the extra money will help remove toxic sediments, prevent invasions by species such as Asian carp, and restore wildlife habitat.


US to buy 30,000 ventilators from General Motors

The federal government will buy 30,000 ventilators from General Motors by the end of August for $489.4 million. GM says it will cover its costs but won’t make a profit on the devices, which will cost the Department of Health and Human Services just over $16,300 each. HHS says in a statement that the ventilators will be distributed to where they are needed most to treat coronavirus patients. GM will start by delivering 6,132 ventilators by June 1. On March 18, GM began working with Seattle-area ventilator maker Ventec Life Systems to increase the company’s production. The automaker is retooling an electronics factory in Kokomo, Indiana, to build the devices.