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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: Vote-By-Mail Ballots Due By Noon June 2, State To Investigate Virus Utilities Effect

Lauren Chapman
IPB News

The Indiana State Department of Health reported 37 additional confirmed deaths Thursday, bringing the state’s total to 1,907. The state announced more than 33,000 total confirmed cases, with more than 242,000 Hoosiers tested.

Hoosiers Must Return Absentee Ballots By Noon On Election Day

Nearly 550,000 Hoosiers requested absentee ballots for the 2020 primary – a huge increase from prior years after the state expanded vote-by-mail to anyone who wanted it.

But there are reports of people not getting their ballots until weeks after requesting them – leading many to wonder if they’ll have enough time to return them.

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.

Hoosiers who want to vote by mailin this year’s primary election have to get their ballot to their county election office by noon on Election Day – Tuesday, June 2. But the Indiana Secretary of State’s office cautions that the U.S. Postal Service is overloaded during the pandemic.

Democrats on the Indiana Election Commission tried to extend the deadline by which absentee ballots could be returned to local county election administrators. But Republicans rejected those efforts.

Elkhart County Has One Of Nation's Highest Virus Growth Rates, Hospitals Starting To Feel Impact

Many Indiana counties are seeing an increase in COVID-19 cases as restrictions ease, but Elkhart County is seeing new cases at one of the highest rates in the nation. That’s according to data released by the New York Times earlier this week. 

The New York Times reports that Elkhart County is ranked 15th for highest average daily growth rates of coronavirus cases. Daily growth rates are one of the factors used to predict where a COVID-19 hotspot could emerge next.

Dr. Dan Nafziger is an infectious disease specialist at Goshen Hospital. He says the hospital has seen an increase in COVID-19 patients and is starting to feel the impact of the county’s surge.

“Part of the trouble, I think we’re running into now is those social distancing measures are being relaxed, people are back to work, and not all of the workplace settings are as conducive to keeping people safe as they need to be,” Nafziger says.

Indiana To Investigate How COVID-19 Has Affected Utilities, Customers

The state plans to look into how the pandemic has affected Indiana utilities and their customers. This comes just days after Gov. Eric Holcomb extended the moratorium on utility disconnections for unpaid bills by another month. 

Consumer advocates worry many Indiana residents will face financial hardship even after the pandemic ends. They say the state needs a plan to protect customers from shutoffsso they can get basic services like electric, water, and sewer.

Meanwhile, several electric and gas utilities say they need financial relief too — which could mean higher rates in the future. Utilities have been losing money due to unpaid bills and less energy demand due to “Stay-At-Home” orders.

Road Tripping In A Pandemic: RV Dealer Reports Big Sales Increase

The owner of a Central Indiana RV dealership says the coronavirus pandemic is driving up his sales.

Ken Eckstein, owner of Mount Comfort RV in Greenfield, says his sales were 50 percent higher for May 2020 than they were for May 2019.

“Now that the parks are open and the state lines are open, people want to get out and move about and air travel and cruising just doesn’t look as good as it used to,” Eckstein says.

Eckstein says even though his showroom was closed during Gov. Eric Holcomb's stay at home order, he was still selling RVs over the internet and by appointment.

All IN: Personal Finance In A Pandemic

The pandemic sent unemployment numbers from record lows to record highs in a matter of weeks. Many people have seen their bank accounts take a hit, and have had to get creative with their budgets. What financial planning lessons can we take away from this whole experience?

All IN spoke with a financial planner about how to handle your money in economically challenging times, and how to set up a plan for future financial security.

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

As Vice President of Radio Operations, Tom is responsible for overseeing Lakeshore Public Radio. He oversees the radio station’s programming, as well as news. He was instrumental in bringing several different genres of music to Lakeshore Public Radio.
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