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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: Holcomb Draws Ire For No Work Share Option, 2020 Gen Con Canceled

Justin Hicks
IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 57 additional confirmed deaths on Tuesday, bringing the state’s total to 1,678. The state announced more than 28,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 189,000 Hoosiers tested.

Gen Con Cancels 2020 Convention, Plans Virtual Events

Downtown Indianapolis will go this summer without the thousands of game enthusiasts who attend Gen Con. On Tuesday, the tabletop game convention announced it was canceling the in-person event in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Described as the largest and longest-running convention of its kind, Gen Con has drawn about 70,000 attendees in recent years. The annual event has been held in Indianapolis since 2003, filling up the Indiana Convention Center and expanding into Lucas Oil Stadium for several days of tabletop gaming.

Gen Con President David Hoppe says the convention is the highlight event for the small business – accounting for about 95 percent of its revenue – but the decision to cancel was apparent after conversations with experts and local officials.

Indiana Lottery Expects Small Revenue Shortfall This Fiscal Year

Indiana expects to collect less money from the state lottery this fiscal year than it budgeted for. But the projected shortfall isn’t as bad as some state officials feared.

IGT Indiana is the private company that runs the lottery for the state. General manager Melissa Pursley says it’s hard to estimate the effect COVID-19 is having.

“It is evident that COVID-19 will have an impact on the Hoosier Lottery’s business, including sales performance and net income return to the state,” Pursley says. “But what’s less clear is how long that impact will last.”

Yet the lottery had its best sales month ever in April. And while projections say the state won’t get as much money at the end of the fiscal year as planned, it’s only about $10 million less than expected.

FSSA: Pandemic-Related SNAP Benefits For Families Start Going Out This Week

Starting this week, families whose children receive free or reduced lunch at school will receive additional SNAP benefits, or food stamps. 

It's aimed at helping cover the costs of meals families may not have received from their child's school during the COVID-19 outbreak.

According to the state's Family and Social Services Administration, about 600,000 children qualify for the pandemic-related benefit. Families will receive the daily cost of school meals multiplied by the average number of days missed since school buildings closed. That's about $319 in benefits for each child who qualifies. 

Governor Holcomb Draws Ire For No Work Share Unemployment Option

The Indiana Chamber of Commerce says it’s disappointed the governor’s office has not decided to implement a work share program. It’s a common system in other states that lets workers keep jobs while accessing some unemployment benefits.

Work share programs allow companies to have employees work reduced hours while the unemployment system supplements most of the difference in their pay. Twenty-eight states have work share programs – some starting during the pandemic. The Indiana Institute for Working Families has also issued a blog post in support of work sharing. 

READ MORE: Governor Holcomb Outlines How – And Why – The State Will Reopen

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.

While a permanent work share program would require legislative approval, the federal CARES act would pay for 50 percent of benefits and some administrative costs of starting a temporary one.

Cities Announce Measures To Open Up Outdoor Seating For Restaurants

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and city leaders announced new measures Tuesday aimed at assisting Marion County restaurants as the city begins to reopen.

The Dine Out Indy initiative will temporarily close sections of five streets in downtown Indianapolis and Broad Ripple to allow restaurants to extend outdoor seating areas.

Last week, Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine issued a public health order allowing restaurants to open outdoor seating with adequate social distancing beginning Friday.

Deputy Mayor of Community Development Jeff Bennett says the decision to close off streets was made with public health in mind.

"We know that space matters, that air flow matters," says Bennett. "We know from Dr. Caine's guidance that we should avoid crowded spots."

Monday afternoon, Evansville officials announced restaurants can temporarily use their parking lots or those of adjacent businesses to create more outdoor seating during pandemic-forced restrictions. The restaurants will just have to submit an amended seating plan to the fire marshal by email.

Under what’s called the Evansville Restaurant Relief Program, restaurants won’t be able to increase their overall seating capacity – that has to remain at 50 percent of their original capacity until June 14, and 75 percent after that until the scheduled end of restrictions on the Fourth of July.

However, they can use outdoor seating to encourage diners who may otherwise be wary of indoor seating during the pandemic.

All Indiana Educators Honored As Teacher Of The Year

All Indiana teachers collectively won the 2021 Teacher of the Year in recognition of the challenges each face during the pandemic, the state education department said Tuesday.

For more than 60 years the Indiana Department of Education picked a single educator to recognize as teacher of the year. Those who won showed excellence in the classroom and went above and beyond to help their students.

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick says all teachers have done that and more in response to school building closures and the pandemic.

"We had teachers going beyond the call of duty to help with food, to have parades. They were calling students every day, taking care of social emotional needs," McCormick said Tuesday during a weekly webinar for school leaders. "It was way beyond the academic piece. I know from hearing from a lot of teachers you are spent. I know it was very taxing on a lot of you."

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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