Second COVID-19 Death Confirmed As Administration Faces Criticism From Democratic Governor Candidate

first_imgSecond COVID-19 Death Confirmed As Administration Faces Criticism From Democratic Governor CandidateMarch 17, 2020, |  Posted by Janet WilliamsBy Erica Irish TheStatehouseFile.comINDIANAPOLIS—State officials confirmed the second patient death related to the coronavirus Tuesday in Johnson County, one day after government and healthcare leaders imposed drastic restrictions in the effort to contain the widening pandemic.Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the first death in Marion County Monday as he imposed new restrictions on bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to place a temporary ban on in-person service, restricting businesses in the food industry to carry out and delivery orders only. He also called on the state to abide by a recommendation by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to limit gatherings to 50 people or less.Gov. Eric Holcomb with Community Hospital’s Dr. Ram Yeleti announces the first coronavirus death in Indiana on Monday. Photo by Janet WilliamsIn addition, Holcomb issued an executive order that includes the restrictions on public gatherings through the end of March, delays non-essential meetings, allows members to participate electronically if the meetings are essential, and activates the Indiana National Guard to be on duty as needed.His Democratic opponent in the 2020 gubernatorial election, former Indiana State Health Commissioner Woody Myers, held a press conference by telephone Tuesday to outline his “Coronavirus Control Plan,” a response that calls for the immediate closure of all schools, a $100 million appropriation for emergency funding and to convene a special session of the Indiana General Assembly.The coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has sickened 30 people so far in Indiana, according to the latest reports by the state health department. But many more residents are expected to have contracted the virus, and Myers said this is due in large part to what he said is a lack of testing statewide.“I absolutely believe we have made a serious mistake by not emphasizing testing earlier and getting the tests done quicker,” Myers said. “We need testing more than any single other items because without testing you don’t know where your patients are, you don’t know where your clusters are, you don’t know where to focus your resources.”Indiana State Health Commissioner Kris Box told Hoosiers in the Monday press conference those experiencing mild or moderate symptoms should not seek out tests and should instead self-quarantine. Box said this is necessary to prevent further spread of the disease and to ensure resources in hospitals can go to those at high risk of experiencing complications from the disease, such as the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.Myers, however, said healthcare professionals can prioritize access for high-risk populations while still ensuring more Hoosiers are tested.“They should go to the front of the line, but that shouldn’t mean everyone else doesn’t get the opportunity,” Myers said.Myers’ said Indiana’s private business leaders should also be prepared to face additional closures to curb the spread of the virus. He recommended the Indiana General Assembly allocate $100 million in additional relief for those affected by temporary closures and to revise state laws on price gouging. He also reiterated the need for a public-private partnership, the Indiana Coronavirus Leadership Group, to facilitate further conversations among government officials, healthcare providers, and private organizations.Representatives for the Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association responded soon after Holcomb announced a suspension of dining room service Monday. While industry representatives said they support the governor’s decision, they encourage Indiana residents to consider alternatives to eating out that could still support businesses through the inevitable economic challenge, such as buying gift cards and offering generous tips for takeout and delivery orders.“We are continuing a very positive dialogue with the governor and his team as we discuss the immediate issues facing our industry and the 14% of Hoosiers that are employed directly in the restaurant and lodging industry in Indiana,,” said Patrick Tamm, president and CEO of the INRLA. “Our team members are experiencing an immediate impact to their lives and are very vulnerable at this time.”House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, wrote a letter to the governor to focus on issues to increase eligibility for unemployment insurance for those affected by the outbreak, require employers to offer up to four weeks of paid leave, waive co-pays for those using the Healthy Indiana Plan, enhance protections for renters to prevent evictions and protect homeowners from foreclosures.Nationwide, every state except West Virginia has reported cases of COVID-19. As of Tuesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control reports that there are more than 4,200 cases across the country and 75 people have died.FOOTNOTE: Erica Irish is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Print Friendly, PDF & EmailFacebookTwitterCopy LinkEmailSharelast_img read more