Mar 24, 2020
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb Coronavirus Briefing Transcript March 24: Stay-at-Home Order Issued
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb gave an update on COVID-19 for the state today. He issued a stay-at-home order for all of Indiana through April 7. Read the full transcript of his press conference speech here.
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Dr. Box: (00:00)
…personnel and equipment are obviously needed to address this crisis and we’re considering all options and gathering lists of support that when needed will be able to be used. I was very happy to hear that GM and Cocomo is partnering with Vintech Life System to ramp up production of ventilators soon and that will add to our existing capabilities across the state.
Dr. Box: (00:22)
We’re also working very closely with our major hospital systems to understand their baseline capacity for ICU beds and for ventilators and what is their realistic surge capacity for those same factors. This will help our healthcare systems to meet the challenges that we will face in the coming weeks. We’re having regional calls facilitated with the Indiana hospital association and our hospital systems all across the state.
Dr. Box: (00:48)
I want to emphasize that we’re still in the very early parts of this outbreak. We will continue to see more cases. Every state is having to adapt daily as the situation changes. That includes how we investigate cases. Across the country, states are finding that the traditional approach to investigating cases and tracking down every single contact of a person who tested positive is not sustainable. As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to grow, health officials simply cannot trace the steps of every single individual. We will continue to focus on tracing and testing our highest risk settings like healthcare facilities, longterm care facilities, jails and Department of Corrections. So I’m asking for all of us to take personal responsibility for ourselves and for our communities. If you test positive, tell your employer and anyone that you were in close contact with so that they can quarantine themselves and monitor for symptoms. I know that this is an unprecedented and difficult time for many, but I urge you to please stay home if you have any symptoms and you’re not employed in essential services, especially if you work in close proximity to others or work with vulnerable populations. If we all take this seriously and we all do our part, we can slow the spread of this virus and save lives. Thank you very much.
Eric Holcomb: (02:13)
Thank you, Dr Box. Dr. O’Donnell, Dr. Kaufman, you want to give us an update on the centralized emergency operations center and some of the bits on the dispatch protocol and readiness?
Dr. Kaufman: (02:29)
Thank you. My name is Dr. Michael Kaufman, State EMS Medical Director with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. The EMS Division of IDHS has been tiresomely working to provide EMS provider agencies and first responders across the entire state with updated guidelines, best practice protocols and information as part of a coordinated effort to respond to COVID-19. Our main goal in response and planning is to keep our EMS system operational while at the same time allowing resources to be provided to those patients needing care and attempting to direct both emergency patients and non-emergency patients to proper treatment facilities.
Dr. Kaufman: (03:05)
Today at our efforts have been focused on both public safety answering points or communication centers and EMS provider agencies or the ambulance services that respond when you call 911. To date, some of those efforts include giving dispatch additional resources to screen patients and help direct them to the most appropriate resource. 911 will always be available when you call for help, but by screening some calls with additional questions, dispatch can help get the right care to the right patients more quickly. We’re giving an EMS provider agencies the ability to screen patients and suggest alternate destinations and alternate modes of transportation, leaving our ambulances available to respond to the most critical patients in need. DHS has expanded the available prehospital workforce by issuing waivers of selected rules and regulations for ambulance provider agencies allowing for nontraditional crew configuration and staffing patterns should the surge capacity dictate those actions.
Dr. Kaufman: (04:02)
We’re working very closely with Dr. Box and the partners at the Indiana State Department of Health to help create a realtime communication and monitoring tool of our entire state EMS system in EM resource to assist a local district and state emergency operation centers in ambulance operations and status and asset tracking.
Dr. Kaufman: (04:20)
And lastly, we’re allowing EMS provider agencies the use of alternate and transportation vehicles the should the surge exceed the operational capacity of that part of our system. Emergency responders and ambulance provider agencies have been given the most up to date recommendations by the CDC and the Department of Homeland Security in order to protect first responders and allow them to continue to provide emergency assistance to Hoosiers all across Indiana. I’m going to turn the microphone over now to Dr. Dan O’Donnell, Chief of the Indianapolis EMS, and he’s going to talk a little bit more about our regional operations center planning.
Dr. O’Donnell: (04:59)
Thank you very much. Good afternoon. My name is dr Dan O’Donnell. I’m the Chief of Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services. As of last week, Marion county’s emergency operations stood up to a level one status in conjunction with the state emergency operations center. We’ve been working tirelessly with the state emergency operations center to ensure that we are providing the necessary services and the necessary care for all the patients and citizens of Indianapolis, Marion County, the surrounding area in the state.
Dr. O’Donnell: (05:27)
I want to start by thanking everyone and committing them on their coordination of the regional operations center, which will help expand our overall capacity and provide much needed support to all of our area, hospital, personnel, supplies and bed space. We know this is an uncommon solution, but we’re in a time when uncommon problems require these uncommon solutions. We must all come together to leverage everyone’s resources to treat both those effected by the COID-19 pandemic as well as those suffering from other illnesses. Thank you.
Dr. O’Donnell: (05:55)
I want to thank all of our regional hospital systems are stepping up together and working through this initial phase in this response including Eskenazi community, Ascension, IU Health and Franciscan. Working together, we will respond to the unmet needs and pull our resources for the state.
Dr. O’Donnell: (06:11)
To the people watching this from home, as Dr. Kaufman said, please know that if you need us, we’re there for you. We will respond. Our ask of you is to be as open and as forthcoming with the information as possible. This is a situation where the most information we can get, the better for everyone. Help keep everyone safe by telling dispatchers if you’ve been feeling sick or if there are sick loved ones in the home. We need everyone to do their part to keep us safe. You cannot give us too much information at this time. Thank you to everyone for sticking together and helping us get through this difficult time. I’m confident that we will get there, but the time is now to stay home and take care of each other. Thank you.
Eric Holcomb: (06:53)
Thank you, Dr. O’Donnell. That’s a perfect segue moving from public health to public safety, Director Steve Cox, are you in my eye shot? Perfect. You want to give us an update on the hotline and some other developments?
Dir. Steve Cox: (07:14)
Yes, sir. Good afternoon. My name is Steve Cox. I’m the executive director of the Indiana Department of Homeland Security. This morning, we activated the state of Indiana call center for critical industries in order to answer questions from Hoosier’s concerning what are essential businesses in the state. And full transparency, there was a slight technical difficulty this morning when we started our call center, which was quickly rectified and we recognized it because of the call volume associated basically overloaded our system, but we were able to get it up and running after about an hour.
Dir. Steve Cox: (07:52)
As of 2:00 PM today, we’ve received over a thousand calls in the center and we will remain open until 6:00 PM Eastern standard time. Moving forward, the call center will be open for calls from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM each day. The call center number is +1 877-820-0890. Again, this is for businesses that have questions concerning what have been deemed essential services in accordance with the governor’s executive order 20-08. Meanwhile, the IN.gov website has several online resources that could answer most questions related to the governor’s stay at home executive order 20-08.
Dir. Steve Cox: (08:41)
As a reminder, the governor cited the following industries is broad examples of essential business that should remain open: hospitals, doctor’s offices, delivery services, garbage pickup, pharmacies, gas stations, public safety agencies, grocery stores, and any healthcare facility. This is not a comprehensive list, but please be assured that if you have a business in these categories you’re listed as essential. You can find details of the executive order at IN.gov/criticalindustries. There’s an FAQ page there that can help the public navigate these questions online. The executive order and additional guidance on essential versus nonessential industries are available there to help resolve questions as well.
Dir. Steve Cox: (09:35)
I’d like to focus one quick point that this is specifically for businesses and not the individual employees working in those businesses for us to be able to provide guidance. Many of the calls that we’ve received today were calls from employees and basically the call center is set up in order for us to be able to answer questions associated with the businesses themselves. We would ask that employees maintain direct contact with the employer that you’re working for to find out whether or not your business is listed as essential. Additional information is available on governor Holcomb’s website or the state COVID-19 website at www.IN.gov/coronavirus.
Dir. Steve Cox: (10:23)
In the call center, we’ve been experiencing very, very heavy call volume today as one might imagine, and we asked for your patience as we attempt to answer all calls coming into the center. Thank you.
Eric Holcomb: (10:40)
Thank you, Director Cox. Staying on the public safety front, I’d ask superintendent Doug Carter, if you could elaborate on the executive order that I signed yesterday, how that may change your daily duties and ours as well.
Doug Carter: (11:03)
I guess I’d like to start off by saying we all are going to be okay. We all are going to be okay. Governor Holcomb’s taken unprecedented steps in Indiana to protect all of us. The directed for Hoosiers to stay home as described in great detail in executive order 20-08 is a common sense next step approach with the intent of ensuring the maximum number of people self isolate and use the approximate or the appropriate level of distancing. This common sense approach simply requires each Hoosier to do what you already know you should. Stay home, essential travel only and take care of others.
Doug Carter: (11:57)
I am keenly aware that our citizens are expecting an experience, if not expecting, but are experiencing tremendous fear and anxiety all because of the unknown. We all are feeling that in some way or another. While law enforcement officers have enormous powers afforded to them by our constitution and state statutes, we must and we will use discretion with any enforcement during this unprecedented time. I have offered direction to all Indiana state troopers, all police chiefs, all sheriffs, all town marshals and all prosecutors in the state of Indiana in written form. We all are seeing that our citizens are afraid, are confused and are wondering about their future. Just like us. Please know that we will help you along the way-
Doug Carter: (13:02)
Please know that we will help you along the way. That’s what we do. And we are as well coordinated now as we have ever been in my lifetime. Because that’s what my boss, Governor Holcomb, expects and that’s exactly what we’ll do. There is some fear-mongering going on on the internet and I want to read an example to you. I think it’s very appropriate to give you two examples of what this means and what it might look like. There is a Facebook post scaring people that says the Central Indiana hospitals are already short of ventilators and have made a decision that no one over 60 will receive ventilators even if needed. Basically, a decision to let them perish. I don’t know who is doing press work to keep this public assured, but I hope this fear generating rumor can be stomped and I am disgusted at this point in time when we are challenged beyond anything we’ve ever experienced in our lifetimes that somebody would say such a thing. Please only go to those sites, everybody that’s watching and listening to this, that you know are reputable. It’s easy to say something that you don’t believe when you’re in some far off place. We must watch out for each other. Additionally, I had a hospital staff member come up to me today in fear about how was she going to get home from work? How is she going to get home from work? She’s going to drive home and she’s going to get home and she’s going to be just fine. The governor was very thoughtful in executive order 20 08 that allowed tremendous mobility. The intent of that was to do all that we can do, that he could do to protect the citizens of our state, and frankly I think he’s done it pretty darn well. I’ll gladly provide the written documentation that I’ve sent out statewide when this is over. We cannot let this threat define us, but we know that our response, all of our responses will. I’ve heard Governor Holcomb say many times, “Let this be our finest hour,” and I think it will.
Eric Holcomb: (15:20)
Thank you, superintendent. Moving over now to the economic front, Commissioner Fred Payne, you want to give us an update on where we are in terms of unemployment insurance benefits and how you can update us on kind of a weekly basis?
Dr. O’Donnell: (15:50)
My name is Fred Payne. I’m the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Just like our sister states, we’ve seen an unprecedented number of newly filed unemployment insurance claims. Just last week, we experienced the largest number of new insurance claims or just about the largest number of insurance claims than we’ve seen in quite some time. Just to put this in reference for, you yesterday alone, we fielded over 38,000 phone calls with our contact center asking questions along the lines of, “How can I apply and who is eligible?” So, want to spend a little bit of time here today talking about just that, to answer some of those questions on who’s eligible and how individuals can apply.
Dr. O’Donnell: (16:39)
First, I do want to say that every Hoosier who has worked and who is out of work due to no reason of their own is eligible to apply for their unemployment insurance benefits, even those who have been impacted through a temporary layoff. The governor has given us our every ask to provide as much flexibility under our Indiana laws as possible to ensure that we are providing benefits to as many Hoosiers as possible. So now, more Hoosiers can qualify, like those who are quarantined and those individuals who must stay at home due to school closes. So, how to file. If you aren’t sure that you’re eligible, go to our website and just file. How do I apply? Well, we apply online using a computer or smartphone. You can go to the website, ww.unemployment.in.gov. On the website, you’ll find plenty of tools to help guide you through the process. There is a frequently asked questions section. There is actually an online handbook and there’s also a video tutorial that can help you through the process. If you have further questions, you can reach out to one of the contact centers and we’ll ensure that we call you back and answer your questions. We do have a series of webinars planned for individuals and businesses that are scheduled for this week, and we’ll schedule more to come during next week and the following weeks as needed. You can also go to the website and find out when those webinars will occur and just how to apply for those. So, for the employers, employers can also help in this process. They can help speed things along as well. If you are an employer and you’re going to have employees that you unfortunately are going to lay off temporarily, you can help us to process their claims a little faster by providing us pertinent information, and you can contact us and we’ll let you know what information we need you to share with us. Thank you.
Eric Holcomb: (18:58)
Thank you, Commissioner. Tomorrow you’ll be hearing from Lieutenant Governor Crouch and you’ll be hearing from Secretary Schellinger more on the economic front. Before I take any questions, I just wanted to also say myself, what we did yesterday was very important. But more important than the what is the why. We are going to throw everything back at repelling COVID-19 that we have, and that calls us all to the same place; not just in the state of Indiana, but across the country. You saw many other States over the last 96 hours arrive at the same position. You saw Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Wisconsin, who are in a similar posture of acting now, of fighting back. That’s the whole purpose of hunker down Hoosiers. It’s to make sure that we get through this storm as fast as humanly possible. And again, we understand there are going to be some bumps along the way. There’s going to be a call center that gets overloaded, but we’re going to continue to be very transparent with you on a very regular basis. And when I say you, I mean 6. 7 plus million Hoosiers.
Eric Holcomb: (20:33)
The good news is during all this uncertainty that we’re all sailing through, we are sailing through it, and Hoosiers are stepping forward in numerous and various ways. In times of adversity, you see true character revealed, and maybe the silver lining in all of this is not only am I convinced that we’re going to come out on the other side in a much stronger position, but we get to compile so many … Dr. Sullivan used the word spirit. We get to compile so many acts of generosity. That spirit of cooperation, that spirit of not just on the EMS front or the law enforcement, which their job is to serve and protect first and foremost. That’s how they’ll lean into this. It’s to help, to use the superintendent’s word. But we’re also seeing average ordinary citizens that haven’t stepped forward before. Maybe they wear the uniform. The police in Southport now are making runs for the elderly, making sure that they get food, making sure they get to a doctor’s appointment, making sure they get medicine, pick up their prescriptions for them. They’ll remain anonymous, but we had someone walk into the Indiana State Department of Health yesterday, dropped off 150 N-95 masks. Said, “I don’t want anything. I don’t want recognition. I don’t want paid. I want to help. That’s all I want to do. Use them as you want.”
Eric Holcomb: (22:22)
The casino up in Hammond, Indiana, took their … When they closed down, they quickly turned and said, “We’re going to get our perishable food to community programs quickly.” In New Albany, you’ve got a community partnership that’s helping some of the restaurant owners and helping people who are out of work with a daily stipend. These are folks that are coming out of the woodwork. There’s a refurbished school bus in Plainfield that is delivering meals. This is in addition to and on top of and alongside of … Dr. [Soland 00:23:04] mentioned it in passing and it should be underscored again; we received earlier today a commitment of $5 million from the Lilly Endowment to use as we see fit to fight back. That’s how we’re going to be able to help the homeless throughout the state of Indiana. This is going to have a transformational, positive impact even when we get to the other side of this. We’re learning how to do things in a moment of crisis that are going to benefit an untold number of people, maybe some people who have been on the margins. We’re doing the right thing. And to be part of this team, and when I say team, I mean everybody. Not talking about this administration. I’m not talking about the executive branch or the legislative branch, or the judicial branch, or folks who work inside this building. I’m talking about everybody. And I’ll quote Coach Dale. I do a lot anyway, but I’ll quote Coach Dale. My team’s on the court and I’m pretty proud that people are stepping up and playing different roles, setting picks and getting rebounds and blocking out. Not everybody’s trying to be the shooter. So, I get it. This is a time of change, uncertainty. Maybe a little cabin fever already.
Eric Holcomb: (24:36)
I talked to my parents just yesterday. They said the house has never been cleaner. Got a little cabin fever. I said, “Well, paint the kitchen trim again.” I think people are starting to look forward to reading their junk mail. I get it. We’re going to get through this, as the superintendent said. And I’m happy to answer, or anyone here is happy to answer any question that you have toward that end.
So, this kind of gets to enforcement with the stay at home order. Governor, Commissioner Cox talked about how the hotline is for businesses, for employers. If I’m an employee of a company that I don’t think falls under those essential business lists, but my boss is still making me come in, what do I do? Who do I go to?
Eric Holcomb: (25:21)
Well, ultimately, as he said, the first crack is to go to your employer and try to work this out the Indiana way. If that fails, you might share the documentation that you have that we’ve posted online that he alluded to, clearly articulated. And if it persists, if it remains an issue, then of course we’re going to want to know, but we’re going to try to resolve it as well. Again, this measure that was taken yesterday is to try to get us to the other side as fast as we can while we got the time to do it, and that we’re appealing. And-
Eric Holcomb: (26:03)
… We got the time to do it, and that we’re appealing. And by the way, 99.99% of Hoosiers out there are complying. What this did is it put everyone on the same page and hopefully clarified, and I think everyone shares, everyone understands the immense financial hit the world is experiencing right now. Certainly, Indiana is no exception. But our intent, and I think everyone else’s, is to get through this responsibly, calmly, as quickly as we can. So, first, go to your employer, discuss it with your employer, show them what you know if there’s some misunderstanding, and if that doesn’t work then we do need to know about it, and we’re going to help try to resolve it as well. Yes, Nikki?
Governor, Pres. Trump has been talking in the last couple of days about starting the economy back up, and that the cure might be worse than the problem. Further, what are your thoughts around that?
Eric Holcomb: (27:15)
Well, I’m hopeful, too, that we can get back to business as usual as fast as we can. We set into motion a two-week timeline. Here, in Indiana, I’m going to focus on that two-week timeline. We’re going to be measuring every day. You can as well. You can go to the Department of Health’s website and you can track and see the trend, and you can see how this is compounding. The more numbers that we get … and by the way, you’re going to start to see some recoveries too when we have that information, but I’m going to, Nikki, be solely focused on steps that Indiana can take over the next 14 days. Of course, we’re going to learn from our neighboring states and the coastal states where this lack crashed upon their shores first. You think about a city like New York City with a couple million more people in their city than our state, but this is all relative when you’re talking about density.
Eric Holcomb: (28:25)
Look at the numbers in Marion County. Look at how they are multiplying. This is the issue that I just briefly mentioned yesterday about one person affects two or two-and-a-half, folks who may feel perfectly healthy and ready to go, if they’re positive, it’s like a magnet. They’re going to attract a negative, and then they’re going to flip them to positive, and then they’re going to flip two more to positive. So that’s why we have to isolate, to slow the spread and flatten that curve, or else we are going to find ourselves in this situation, dare I say, and we’re not remotely close to that, Italy or New York where they’re taking over a center. We are not there because we are taking some innovative, bold steps, and it’s … What’s gratifying about it is it’s the Indiana way. It’s people coming together: different levels of government, different cities all over the state of Indiana working together, including with our federal partners.
Eric Holcomb: (29:33)
If I could just, because you brought it up, if I could say it is past time and I’m heartened to hear some progress made today, but Americans need help right now. I’m hopeful and proud of our congressional delegation for pushing. We’ve been in constant contact. I’m hopeful that folks in Washington could put aside these political games like we have here in the State of Indiana and get help here now. We need each other. Abdul?
Governor, you spoke to us last week, when asked about the sort of stay at home or stay in place order, you said we weren’t there yet. Obviously, that’s changed. What did you, Dr. Box, the Department of Public Health see, now either in the algorithms or in the data, that said, “All right, we’re now there”?
Eric Holcomb: (30:38)
Dr. Box, you may want to comment on this. I didn’t take statistics in college. Statistics took me. But I will tell you this, the numbers don’t lie, and if they don’t put a little fear of God in you to act and act now and fight back now, I don’t know what would. We’re going to continue to lose people. We know what the timeline has been in some not just neighboring states but the coastal states, and so no one has a crystal ball, of course, but if you look out in a two-week increments, two weeks, four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, et cetera, now was the time to act yesterday. Dr. Box, you want to add?
Dr. Box: (31:25)
Thanks, Governor. Well, I think, when we look at Marion County who has 161 cases now, and we start to look at cities and other areas of the United States that are probably a couple of weeks ahead of us, and we can see that that need for ICU beds and ventilators and all those other things increases, oftentimes by about two times the amount that individual cities have, we really felt the strong need to be able to make sure that we are doing everything in our power to decrease the spread from one individual to another.
Speaker 1: (32:04)
Eric Holcomb: (32:05)
Speaker 1: (32:06)
In wake of one of yesterday’s executive orders, what do you see as the role of the five leading Marion County hospital chains? In their model, you’ve called on them to set for the cooperation for the entire State of Indiana. For instance, what’s done here, are you expecting that’s going to be replicated throughout the state?
Eric Holcomb: (32:28)
Speaker 1: (32:28)
Or the rest of the state is going to come through Marion County?
Eric Holcomb: (32:31)
No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, we’re going to go to them. We’re already going to them. This is not a Central Indiana or Indianapolis-centric approach. This approach is going to work in, and I mentioned yesterday, in every quadrant of our state. It needs to be there. We’re being driven by the facts on the ground, of course, but this is about not spilling resources, not wasting time and space. This is about caring for those that are in need right now. It’s going to work here and it’ll work in northwest Indiana, work in southeast, southwest and northeast Indiana.
Speaker 1: (33:13)
Do you foresee potential of either the most seriously ill patients from out state coming to Indianapolis or the overflow from out of the state going to Indianapolis since we obviously have most of the beds or we have many beds?
Eric Holcomb: (33:27)
None at this time.
Speaker 1: (33:28)
Dr. Box: (33:28)
I’m sorry, I didn’t hear the question.
Eric Holcomb: (33:58)
I think that’s a great question. It’s one that we’ve grappled with.
Eric Holcomb: (34:06)
She didn’t use this word, but she said, I’m saying to do one thing, restrict the number of people, whether it be a 50 or 10 or a number and we’ve got more than that assembled here today. So, am I practicing what I’m preaching? And I’ll be honest with you, we have encouraged folks to socially distance. I’ve said six feet between one another, and I’m hesitant as I have seen and heard and read about keeping close contact with Republican governors and democratic governors on more than a weekly basis, on a day in, day out basis, different set ups. Some have decided to go to a more virtual approach to get right at your concern that I share, and I don’t want to restrict the Fourth Estate from having access. We’re going to be transparent, for sure, but I don’t want to restrict the Fourth Estate from asking questions that you’re getting, as you said on Twitter, I think your example, from concerned Hoosiers. So to date, this is under constant discussion, but to date we have tried to spread out. I ask you to spread out. We’ve got a couple more floors we could utilize here. Maybe I could point up and ask Dr. Box to give the next report on the third floor. But for the time being we’re going to ask people to assemble here where the building is confined and controlled and spread out when we do. Yes?
Speaker 4: (36:13)
Dr. Box, you were talking earlier and half talked earlier about the numbers in Marion County. They account for close to half of all the confirmed cases. What’s going on here? Is it because we’re obviously a bigger population, but we’re not half the population of the state? Are people not following the rules? Are people packed too close together, or are we doing more testing? I mean, what’s going on?
Dr. Box: (36:36)
This is typical of what you see around the world and what we’ve seen in the United States that is major metropolitan areas that suffer the worst from this, and that’s pretty typical of any outbreak.
Speaker 4: (36:46)
So I shouldn’t be worried?
Dr. Box: (36:48)
Speaker 4: (36:50)
So I shouldn’t worry by those numbers?
Dr. Box: (36:52)
I don’t think you should worry. I think you should know that we’re addressing it, and that’s why we have taken the actions that we have to try to make sure that individuals do stay in their homes. That doesn’t mean you can’t get out and take a walk. Social distance with the people with you, but definitely spending your time at home.
Speaker 5: (37:12)
Dr. Box or Governor, is there testing available in all Indiana counties at this time, and if there is or is not, will we see more pop up locations for people to get testing outside of hospitals?
Dr. Box: (37:26)
Yes, we are seeing testing available in all parts of our state. I know that there are a couple of areas that wanted to do their own testing and that hasn’t been able to happen, and so we are actually reaching out to them, offering to help them with their testing, pick up their specimens, bring them here so that we can run them through Lilly and IU’s lab within a 24-hour period of time. We are seeing individual facilities pop up so that we can test those high risk populations that maybe don’t need to go to the emergency room, but it is critical that we know whether they’re sick with COVID-19. I’ve mentioned before, we have strike teams that are localized in five regions across the state that are composed of our people who are volunteering from our advanced practice RNs, along with our surveyors for CMS, for long-term care facilities, who can actually go out into jails and a DOC or Department of Corrections facilities, long-term care facilities, resident facilities, and test people right in the facilities so they don’t have to come to the emergency room for that.
Speaker 5: (38:28)
So you said all parts. Is that all parts or all counties?
Dr. Box: (38:31)
That is available in all counties to the State of Indiana.
Speaker 6: (38:38)
Dr. Box, you made mention earlier about trying to get from the federal …
Dr. Box: (38:44)
Strategic National Stockpile?
Speaker 6: (38:46)
Yeah. The protective equipment and other things were here in Indiana. With the surge that started being seen from New Orleans to New York City, is there going to be the equipment you need when you see the surge in Indiana? Are you seeing the surge of patients being hospitalized now? What’s the-
Speaker 6: (39:03)
… surge of patients being hospitalized now, what’s the status in our hospitals?
Dr. Box: (39:05)
We don’t really feel like we’re seeing necessarily a surge of patients right now. We’ve been following as we have asked for individuals to postpone elective surgeries, we’ve seen a decline in some admissions. We are seeing a little uptick in EMS of those who have respiratory influenza like illness just in the last day or so. So, I can’t say that in our hospitals we have a huge surge, but we’re certainly preparing for that.
Speaker 6: (39:33)
Are you confident you’ll be able to get the equipment you need when New York and New Orleans are already pleading for more equipment? Is Indiana’s equipment sufficient?
Dr. Box: (39:44)
We have been able to receive a percentage of what Indiana is allocated based on our population from the strategic national stockpile, and I believe we’ll be receiving more within the next 24 to 48 hours. Our hope is that we’re also going to be able to receive some supplies through FEMA, but Indiana is pretty homegrown, and we’re figuring out some ways around this ourselves, making sure that we are conserving our supplies as much as possible.
Speaker 7: (40:17)
The homeless shelter, where is that going to be located?
Dr. Box: (40:21)
That is something that we’re not going to release the specific location of that.
Speaker 7: (40:27)
Governor, I believe you have the tenant landlord bill, senate bill sitting on your desk. Are you going to sign that?
Eric Holcomb: (40:36)
I was going to say, we’re going to be back here at 2:30, I’ve got some straggling bills outstanding and I need to still have some questions on the remaining balance, so you’ll know more soon. I’ve got a deadline tomorrow.
So, commissioner Payne talked about if you’ve lost your job or if you’re temporary out of work, file for unemployment. That does absolutely nothing for the so-called gig economy workers, the self-employed independent contractors who have nowhere to turn. What are we doing for those tens of thousands of losures?
Eric Holcomb: (41:07)
You’re right, and you’re going to your right, and you’re going to hear a little bit more in detail about that tomorrow from Secretary Shalinder, and this is something that we’ve been pressing on on a more than daily basis with our federal partners in the congressional delegation. I still need to, Brandon, to be honest with you, go through line by line what’s all in that bill, because it’s changed since yesterday. But we’re very mindful of both the balance of the employee where I have always said we got to get this to the people first. Can’t have a corporation unless you have the people. But we also have to address stabilizing and creating that bridge for the employer to have that business in tax. So, we’re looking at both, you’ll hear a little bit more in detail tomorrow from… the IEDC has basically been retrofitted over the last 48, 72 hours into becoming a concierge that’s dealing with questions just like this. This is why I said it’s so important that as we went into this, you’re talking about a tale of two cities, or before and after.
Eric Holcomb: (42:10)
We sailed into this with North of $2 billion in our reserves, 13 plus percent of our annual operating budget and reserves, and thankfully we have that. And so we’re going to be able to do some things that other states will be at the and only the mercy of the federal government to see them through. We’ll have some programs to help ends meet, but we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in terms of what we’ve been asking from the federal government as well.
Speaker 8: (42:44)
Can you talk a little bit more about the enforcement of the stay at home order, both for individuals and for businesses? Because it sounds like we’re not going to necessarily be pulling people over on their way home from work, but we may still see businesses that are nonessential still operating. What sort of consequences?
Eric Holcomb: (43:04)
Well, they shouldn’t be, and we’re trying to be as clear and blunt and as serious about this as we can. Our intent is this is not meant to be a hammer. This is meant to be instructional. We’re asking for citizens buy in over the next two weeks. Of course, we understand that we have the authority, but our law enforcement agencies are there to assist, and our superintendent Doug Carter’s position is serve and protect, so they’re not going to be pulling people over going to and from work.
Eric Holcomb: (43:47)
If we get into a situation where someone is flaunting, we’ll have to address that on a case by case basis, but the point of this all was to say the quicker we all get on the same page and we all start playing our role, the quicker we’re going to get through this, and we’ll become the model.
Speaker 9: (44:08)
How quickly do you think General Motors is going to get business? How good of a deal is it to have this happening in Indiana? How much are you looking forward to that?
Eric Holcomb: (44:16)
With the ventilators? Did you say General Motors? Yeah. You want to take…
Dr. Box: (44:25)
We’re very pleased to hear about the partnership between General Motors and the other company that’s doing this. We don’t have a specific time frame from them yet on that, but we do have access to other ventilators that are in surgery centers that are sitting empty now since we have postponed elective surgery. So, we’re accounting for all of that as we plan for our surge.
Eric Holcomb: (44:48)
I will say there’s a company in Evansville that stepped up yesterday that said there is an electrician and said ventilators have to be repaired and serviced from time to time, and they’re happy to give up their service with no compensation. Yet another example of whether it’s mask or ventilators, you name it, gowns, folks are… I should brought that hand sanitizer that I had two boxes of. Out here, folks are addressing the needs.
Speaker 10: (45:22)
Dr. Box mentioned we’re still at the level where we’re still kind of rationing who gets what tests and who doesn’t. At what point would be at a spot where everyone can get a test?
Eric Holcomb: (45:36)
Did you hear the question?
Dr. Box: (45:36)
Eric Holcomb: (45:37)
At what point?
Dr. Box: (45:40)
If you look at what other states are doing, they’re moving toward doing targeted testing just as we’ve been doing all along. That is saying that individuals that are sick should stay home. If they’re doing well, they don’t need to be tested. Again, if they have contact with our highest risk populations or they are high risk themselves or they get more ill and need to come to the emergency room, then testing is indicated.
Speaker 11: (46:02)
What’s the rule for children? I’ve personally heard from someone who had a child this weekend who had 103 fever, wasn’t feeling good, was tested for pneumonia, tested for the flu, but couldn’t get a coronavirus test. What are the parameters?
Dr. Box: (46:16)
I can’t say anything specifically about that, but I can tell you that if that individual presented to an emergency room and was ill and that physician felt that that was indicated, that that’s appropriate. And we’ve said very clearly that we need our clinicians to be able to use their good clinical judgment.
Speaker 11: (46:30)
And lastly, as this was coming across, it was originally said that this was something that would affect the older population harder, and it seems as this gets closer, it’s getting younger and younger and younger people affected. Is that the case?
Dr. Box: (46:46)
I think as we get more and more people affected, we will have more and more people sick in all of our age groups. The severity of illness, if it follows the same path, which it appears to be as other countries and as other places in the United States will be on those individuals that are usually over the age of 60 with other chronic conditions.
Speaker 11: (47:03)
So, what would you say to people who are younger who feel invincible right now because they haven’t heard what you just said?
Dr. Box: (47:11)
They may be invincible, but we can’t predict. There are always with any disease outbreaks, individuals who will succumb to an illness or become critically ill, and we won’t understand why they particularly had more problem with it than another one. So, I don’t think you should feel invincible, but most importantly, when you feel invincible, you’re not really paying attention to the fact that you could be infecting someone else who isn’t.
Eric Holcomb: (47:35)
Yeah, I would just add that if it doesn’t knock you down, that’s not the point. You may go run into someone that it will knock down and you’ll pass it on, and so it does affect you. It affects us all. That’s the whole point of self isolation, to flatten that curve so our healthcare system isn’t overwhelmed. Abdul?
Governor, I’ve been hearing from a number of businesses, let’s say, because of the closure, because of the COVID-19, that they’ve applied with their insurance companies who take that temporary business loss, they’re hearing that this may not be covered in their policies. Have you given any directions or instructions?
Eric Holcomb: (48:15)
Yeah. They should be talking directly to, which probably would be a good idea to have Steve Robertson at the Department of Insurance here. He’s in constant communication with businesses all over the state of Indiana to address on a one on one basis those exact concerns. Thank you all very much. Same time, same channel, same place unless it changes, and now she’s changed. You’ve changed seats.
I was going to ask Dr. Box a quick question. Sorry, Dr. Box. Now you don’t have to go for a walk. Can you tell us anything about what percentage of the cases that we’re seeing are hospitalized and what percentage of the cases that we’re seeing are in healthcare workers?
Dr. Box: (49:04)
I don’t unfortunately have that information, Sherry. There is a thing called an ICD 10 code, which is how hospitals will code particular illnesses or diseases, and that has not been implemented in the EHR, the electronic medical record systems yet. I’m expecting that about April the first, and that is going to give us a much better way through our outlets with IHI and [inaudible 00:49:29] to be able to pull that data and then be able to report on that data on a regular basis for you. It will also allow us to report on what other comorbidities or chronic diseases these individuals had.
Eric Holcomb: (49:42)
Thank you, all.
Speaker 12: (49:45)
That concludes today’s press conference. We will send out a media advisory with further details about tomorrow’s availability.