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Get the latest on the global Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic as it impacts Northwest Indiana, the state, country, and globe. Bookmark this page as there will be several updates each day from Lakeshore Public Radio, IPB News, NPR, and the Associated Press.

Coronavirus: Indiana Releases Race Data, Holcomb Signs Order For Teacher Evaluations

Justin Hicks
IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 43 additional deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s total to 343. The state announced nearly 8,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 42,000 Hoosiers tested.

Indiana Releases Data For Race, Ethnicity In COVID-19 Cases, Deaths

The Indiana State Department of Health broke down COVID-19 cases and deaths by race and ethnicity.

While black Hoosiers only comprise 9 percent of the state’s population, they account for 19 percent of deaths and 18 percent of cases.

But, State Health Commissioner Kris Box says, while the data follows the national trend, it is incomplete.

“We’re doing things like going back through public health data. We’re looking at our birth and death registry data to try cross-match this – even through Medicaid to see if we can get some of that information and make that more complete,” Box says.

Faith Celebrations Across The State Adjust To Social Distancing

For many communities of faith, key holidays are occurring in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic this year.

In Evansville, churches closed by strict social distancing measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus observed the holiday online and on Facebook Live. Communion was bring-your-own and the altar call was done by text or in an online chat room.

The Jewish community is holding Passover observances on social media as well. The Muslim observance of Ramadan will also take place during strict pandemic measures, starting April 23.

In South Bend, at the Basilica at Notre Dame and Ironhand Wine Bar Christians got creative to find safe ways to celebrate.

Holcomb Signs New Order For Teacher Evaluations, Student Teachers

Teacher evaluations have remained in limbo as school buildings have closed, but Indiana's schools now have two options to consider under a new executive order from the governor Friday.

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What The Expanded 'Stay-At-Home' Order Really Does

LEE MAS: ¿Puedo Salir A Caminar? Esto Es Lo Que Significa Una Orden De Permanecer En Casa

The new order says schools can use a teacher's evaluation from last year, or conduct a new one. If it's new, they can't use test scores or observations unless those were done while classes were still meeting in person.

The order also waives the 10-week student teaching requirement for future educators, if their teacher preparation program signs off on the waiver. But teacher candidates can still finish their requirement by participating in remote learning. 

March State Revenues Don't Reflect Full Impact Of COVID-19 Fallout

Indiana didn’t collect quite as much in taxes last month as it hoped – though the state still headed into the COVID-19 crisis in a strong financial position.

Tax revenues came in about $63 million less in March than the state budgeted for. But Office of Management and Budget director Cris Johnston says that doesn’t yet reflect a significant impact from the ongoing pandemic.

“March’s revenues really reflect the month of February," Johnston says. "So, the month of April will really be the key indicator for what stands ahead of us.”

Despite sales, individual and corporate income taxes all coming in below projections last month, Indiana still sat more than $200 million ahead of where the budget expected to be heading into April.

State Offers Virtual Help As FAFSA Deadline Looms

The state deadline to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is this week, and the state is hosting a virtual event Monday night to offer support for students who still need to file while stuck at home.

Some families are already feeling squeezed for finances during the coronavirus pandemic, and thousands of Hoosiers have filed for unemployment. Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says for students who need financial aid, filing the FAFSA as soon as possible is crucial. 

"If you are going to receive financial aid, whether that's from the state or whether it's institutional aid or scholarships, you have to complete the FAFSA," she says.

The commission plans to offer question and answer sessions on social media through its Learn More Indiana accounts on Monday. Staff will also offer text or phone call support from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The FAFSA filing deadline is Wednesday, April 15.

New Doctors Prepare For Residency Amid COVID-19 Crisis

For fourth-year medical students, spring is normally the time for an important rite of passage. They finish classes and find out where they’ll spend the next several years doing their residencies.

The coronavirus pandemic has turned all that upside down.

Lauren Grant’s expectations for her pediatrics residency have shifted.

She wonders what will happen if there's a shortage of manpower. Or, as she says, “If I’ll start my residency as a pediatrician, or if I'll be needed in other areas of patient care.”

Grant attends Southern Illinois University Medical School in Springfield. She and three of her classmates spoke about what it’s like to graduate into this unprecedented crisis.

Indianapolis Fabric Artist Shifts To Sewing Essential Surgical Gowns

The state’s first industrial cut and sew operation was scheduled to open this month in the Circle City Industrial Complex. Instead, the organization known as Stitchworks Indy employed local fabric artists to stitch essential personal protective gear for health care workers.

Emily Gartner has a sewing studio in the CCIC. The professional seamstress would normally be creating fashion and teaching classes, but now she's making surgical gowns for Eskenazi Health Care workers.

Contact Lauren at lchapman@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @laurenechapman_.

This is a rapidly evolving story, and we are working hard to bring you the most up-to-date information. However, we recommend checking the websites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Indiana State Department of Health for the most recent numbers of COVID-19 cases.

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