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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: State Creates Testing Partnership, Drive-By Protest At Westville Correctional

Justin Hicks
IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 57 additional deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 901. The state announced more than 16,500 total confirmed cases, with more than 87,000 Hoosiers tested.

State Announces Partnership To Test 100,000 Hoosiers Within A Month

Indiana officials announced a partnership Tuesday that will dramatically expand the state’s COVID-19 testing capacity.

OptumServe Health Services will set up 20 testing sites around the state within the next week, with 50 total sites within two weeks. State health department Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver says anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 – or who has had close contact with a symptomatic person – can get tested, without a doctor’s order.

“And once all 50 sites are open, as many as 6,600 Hoosiers can be tested per day,” Weaver says.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance Refunds Some Money To Auto Policy Holders

An Indiana auto insurer is one of several across the country returning money to clients during the coronavirus pandemic. This comes as many are traveling less due to “Stay-At-Home” orders.

Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is giving customers $20 back per vehicle totaling more than $8 million returned to Hoosiers.

To help keep people insured, the Indiana Department of Insurance requested a 60-day suspension on policy cancellations or non-renewals, giving customers a grace period through mid-May.

Indiana's CTE Programs Produce, Donate COVID-19 Supplies

Career and technical education teachers across the state are making and donating protective gear to organizations and hospitals fighting COVID-19, even as they find new ways to teach in lieu of hands-on learning.

The Indiana Office of CTE says numerous programs are donating personal protective equipment from medical classrooms to local hospitals. Some have even donated hospital beds to temporary sites meant to handle an overflow of COVID-19 patients. 

Patrick Biggerstaff is the director of CTE at Area 31 Career Center in Indianapolis. His school already donated PPE to a local hospital, and teachers and alumni are still 3D printing face shields and sewing masks to help.

Drive-By Protest At Westville Correctional Facility, Demonstrators Say Poor Conditions Pose Health Risk

Roughly 100 cars circled the Westville Correctional Facility Tuesday in protest of what the drivers say are dangerous health conditions regarding COVID-19 within the prison.

READ MORE: State Supreme Court Rejects ACLU's Petition To Release Inmates At Risk For COVID-19

Protesters drove around the state prison for two hours in cars covered with signs which read “Inmate Lives Matter” and “Prison Sentence, Not Death Sentence.” They silently prayed for the inmates inside where there’s a COVID-19 outbreak.

As of Tuesday, 143 Westville prison inmates and 36 staff members are confirmed with COVID-19 with one confirmed COVID-19 related death.

Muncie Schools Approve Teacher Raises Amid Pandemic

Muncie Community Schools has approved raises for teachers during the coronavirus pandemic. The district’s board says despite the uncertainty of state funding, they want to reassure teachers that they matter.

District board members approved salary increases that will cost a combined $678,000. Board president Jim Williams says it’s likely state revenues will go down next year, but this increase is something the district believes is sustainable.

READ MORE: Can I Go For A Walk? Here's What The Updated '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

“Teaching in the classroom matters more than anything else to the welfare of our students,” Williams says. “So that’s why we are taking what we consider to be, perhaps, an unusual step during these times, as you look around to other districts and what’s going on around us.”

COVID-19 Antibody Test Now Available For Online Purchase

U.S. clinical laboratory Quest Diagnostics announced Tuesday it has begun offering straight-to-consumer COVID-19 antibody testing for online purchase.

Individuals can purchase the COVID-19 Immune Response Test through the lab's online testing business, QuestDirect, for $119.

QuestDirect's website says there are some specific situations in which antibody testing may be useful:

  • You've had a positive test for COVID-19 and it has been at least 7 days and you want to know if you have detectable levels of IgG antibodies
  • You have not experienced a fever or felt feverish in the last 3 days
  • You have not experienced new or worsening symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 10 days: loss of smell or taste, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, feeling weak or lethargic, lightheadedness or dizziness, vomiting or diarrhea, slurred speech, and/or seizures

Evansville Small Businesses Putting Safety Over Quick Opening

Sure, they want to get open as soon as possible, but that's not the number one concern right now for small business owners.

Last week, the Reopen Evansville Task Force held the first round of discussions with small business owners on what they need to get back in business. Kim Howard, the regional director of the Indiana Small Business Development Center said the top issue for business owners was not when they could reopen, but how they could keep employees and customers safe when they do get back to work.

Muncie City Hall Security Upgraded, Will Open To Appointments Only On May 1

Muncie says it will reopen the city hall building beginning on May 1 for scheduled appointments only. Changes have been made in the building so it can be safe through the rest of the coronavirus pandemic and into the future.

Muncie Mayor Dan Ridenour says the City Hall building on High Street will still be closed to the public come May 1. But those who schedule appointments for business that can’t be done by phone or email, like with the mayor or building commissioner, will be allowed in.

Ridenour says security at the building was a concern before the pandemic.

That was shown publicly in early March when City Hall wasevacuated over “suspicious” white powder found in elevators and on floors. Two women were arrested and they told police they were protecting the building from the coronavirus.

“So that cannot happen now,” Ridenour says. “So we do have security measures in place.”

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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