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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 Partners With Midwest On Reopening, Clean Energy Jobs Lost To Virus

Lauren Chapman
IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 41 additional deaths on Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 477. The state announced more than 9,500 total confirmed cases, with more than 51,000 Hoosiers tested.

Midwest Governors Partner To Coordinate Economy Reopening

Governors across several Midwest states – including Indiana – announced Thursday they will work together as they decide when to reopen the economy from their states’ “Stay-At-Home” orders.

Gov. Eric Holcomb says he’s already worked closely with neighboring states. The new coalition includes Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

A joint statement from the governors says their top priority in determining how and when to reopen the economy is the health and safety of workers and citizens.

Indiana OSHA Office Receives Thousands Of COVID-19 Complaints

As of Thursday, Indiana’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has received close to 6,000 non-formal complaints related to COVID-19. About half are questioning whether a company is really an essential business as defined by the governor’s “Stay-At-Home” orders.

In a written statement, an Indiana Department of Labor spokesperson said that’s about five times the number of non-formal complaints the agency sees in an entire year.

The non-formal complaints can be anonymous, unlike formal complaints which require a signature from an employee. Questions about whether a business is essential or not are reviewed by an enforcement response team appointed by the governor.

Unemployment Insurance Dates Announced For Self-Employed Workers

The Department of Workforce Development announced target dates when self-employed, independent contractors, and gig workers can get unemployment insurance. The changes were made possible by federal relief efforts, but took time for the state to implement.

DWD says it should be able to accept online unemployment insurance applications for self-employed workers starting April 24. The actual payments will begin May 4. Those who have already filed for pandemic unemployment assistance and have been denied will get an email with additional instructions from the department, if they haven't already. 

DWD Commissioner Fred Payne cautions that these are target dates and could change slightly in the coming weeks.

Report: Indiana Lost Nearly 3 Percent Of Clean Energy Jobs Due To COVID-19

Last month, Indiana lost nearly 3 percent of its clean energy workforce — likely due to the pandemic. That’s according to the latest Clean Jobs America report.

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

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana 2020 Two-Way. Text "elections" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

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

Those jobs include everyone from solar panel installers to heating and air conditioning technicians to people who make electric vehicle engines.

More than 100,000 clean energy workers in the U.S. applied for unemployment in March. Authors of the report say that largely wiped out employment growth made in 2019. Indiana ranked 12th highest in clean energy worker unemployment claims in the country. 

Bob Keefe — executive director of the national group E-2, Environmental Entrepreneurs — says that number is only expected to grow because several states issued their "Stay-At-Home" orders later in March.

Indiana Will Have More Limited In-Person Voting For June 2 Primary

Indiana will hold some in-person voting opportunities for its June 2 primary election.

The state already extended vote-by-mail to any Hoosier who wants to cast a ballot that way. But Secretary of State Connie Lawson says some voters feel strongly about going to their polling place.

Still, the state is going to limit in-person voting to just one week leading up to and including Election Day on June 2.

Normally, in-person early voting lasts about a month before the election.

As COVID-19 Spreads In Indiana Prisons, Officials And Prisoners Disagree On Severity

The state is less transparent about cases and deaths related to prisons than the general population – including the number of COVID-19 tests administered. It has mainly reported positive cases. 

At the end of Monday’s news conference, Gov. Eric Holcomb said Indiana had not had the outbreaks other states had experienced. On that day, there were just 27, out of nearly 27,000 prisoners. 

“We have acted very quickly. So to date, I think we’ve done an admirable job,” he said. “We have got our offenders in a safe place — we believe maybe even safer than just letting them out.” 

READ MORE: All IN: COVID-19 And Indiana's Prisons

Lisa, whose husband Dennis is in Plainfield Correctional Facility for theft, driving on a suspended license and resisting arrest, laughed when she heard the quote from the governor. 

“Wow. That’s a big lie,” she said. “They have them herded like cattle, all crammed together, where the virus can just jump from one to the other. There’s no protection.” 

At noon Thursday, the number of prisoners who tested positive jumped from 34 to 116.

Braun, Young Will Serve On Presidential Committee To Reopen Economy

Republican U.S. Sens. Mike Braun and Todd Young were selected by President Donald Trump to serve on the “Opening up America again” congressional task force.

The bipartisan panel will work with the nation’s governors and the Trump administration on when and how to reopen the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Virtual Horseback Riding: Behavioral Therapy Turns To Alternate Methods

Social distancing and isolation have kept us from our daily routines. It's hard on all of us, but for those with disabilities, the absence of these activities can be very problematic.

At Camp Red Cedar they don’t just host summer camps and riding lessons for kids. They also use interactions with their horses as a form of behavioral therapy for kids and adults with disabilities. Part of that therapy is horseback riding.

When the “Stay-At-Home” order became a clear trajectory for Indiana, Red Cedar had to completely shift its mindset on how to continue to help clients without being able to have them physically present.

The solution? Virtual horseback riding therapy.

Greater Lafayette Farmer's Markets Will Run Under COVID-19 Restrictions

Greater Lafayette farmer’s markets will kick off their annual seasons as May begins, but the weekly events will be run under restrictions designed to keep vendors and attendees safe from COVID-19 infection. 

“We definitely do not want to limit fresh and local food to anybody right now,” said West Lafayette market coordinator Julia Zuchkov. “That’s our main priority.”

Both markets will limit the number of vendors; the downsizing allows for more space between booths, mostly those selling fresh food such as fruits, vegetables, meat, and eggs. Customers will be discouraged from touching produce and lingering at tables, and asked to keep a socially distant six feet between themselves and other shoppers.

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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