Indiana enters third stage of reopening economy

Updated: May. 22, 2020 at 4:09 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS (FOX19) - Gov. Eric Holcomb discussed on Friday the third stage of reopening Indiana’s economy.

The third stage allows for:

  • Social gatherings of up to 100 people.
  • Restaurant dining rooms remain open at 50% capacity.
  • Retail stores, malls open at 75% capacity.
  • Raceways can begin competition with no spectators.
  • State park inns can reopen.
  • Youth summer day camps may begin June 1.
  • Gyms, YMCAs, fitness studios can open with restrictions.
  • Community pools, campgrounds can open.
  • Recreational sports practices can start if they follow guidelines.
  • Contact sports [football and lacrosse] are prohibited
  • Baseball, basketball, soccer, tennis facilities may open.

Holcomb said Cass, Marion, and Lake Counties will begin stage 3 on June 1.

Executive Director of Homeland Security in Indiana, Steve Cox, stated that businesses can expand their occupancy levels at 50% or 75%. This means that if businesses need to expand due to seating rearrangement, they can.

More than 20,000 bundles of Personal Protective Equipment was sent to Indiana businesses, said Indiana Economic Development Corporation Chief of Staff Luke Bosso.

Due to the economic impact of COVID-19, Gov. Eric Holcomb also announced Friday that the State Budget Agency will plan to reduce state agency budgets by 15% for the 2021 fiscal year.

“This is the first of what is likely to be a number of steps we’ll take to rein in state spending while we continue to provide critical government services to Hoosiers without interruption,” Gov. Holcomb said. “It will be imperative that we effectively manage our resources. During the last economic downturn, the state’s general fund revenues were nearly $3 billion less than forecasted. SBA estimates we could face an even greater loss of general fund revenue in the final 14 months of this biennium.”

Holcomb said that the government has already taken the initiative to reduce costs in April.

He also said that the state would make sure not to put previously announced projects on hold:

  • Use of $291 million in reserves to pay for several capital projects approved in the 2020 legislative session. Bonding authority may be used to move forward with those projects later
  • Approximately $65 million in Next Level Trails grants
  • $110 million of deferred maintenance projects, including $70 million for state parks

“By taking immediate action to tighten our belts across state government, we will maintain maximum flexibility to navigate a still very uncertain economic picture. All options are on the table, and as we approach tax filing deadlines and better understand all of the federal funds available to Indiana, we will make more precise adjustments ahead of crafting a budget for next biennium,” Holcomb said.

The governor says that the government is not cutting the budget they believe Hoosiers need.

It is unclear what budget cuts Holcomb will make.

The Indiana unemployment rate is at its highest since 1982 at 16.9%, Commissioner of the Department of Workforce Development, Fred Payne said.

“Manufacturing was one of the hardest hit, but they are ramping back up at full strength,” Payne said.

Leisure and hospitality are also among the highest in unemployment, he said.

Payne says 30,311 unemployment claims were filed in Indiana last week.

Since March, Payne says the DWD gave out $1.3 million in payments.

The Indiana State Department of Health reports that there are 493 new positive COVID-19 cases and 27 new deaths.

This brings the total number of cases to 30,409 and the total number of deaths to 1,791, health officials said.

Health officials say 165,448 tests have been reported to date.

In the FOX19 NOW viewing area:

  • Dearborn County: 161 cases, 21 deaths, 852 tests
  • Fayette County: 50 cases, four deaths, 534 tests
  • Franklin County: 106 cases, eight deaths, 359 tests
  • Ohio County: 13 cases, zero deaths, 105 tests
  • Ripley County: 110 cases, six deaths, 773 tests
  • Switzerland County: 19 cases, zero deaths, 215 tests
  • Union County: eight cases, zero deaths, 124 tests

Indiana State Department of Health Commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, says that since March 1, 29,363 people have been admitted into the hospitals for COVID-19.

Of the 29,363 people, 72% have been discharged, and 18% have died, Dr. Box said.

Health officials say those who have been exposed and need a test to return to work are encouraged to go to a state-sponsored testing site for free testing. Those who are high-risk or are living with someone who is high risk are also encouraged to get tested.

The health department is holding drive-through clinics through Sunday in Bluffton, Gary, Madison, and Sullivan.

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