Mar 25, 2020

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper COVID-19 Briefing Transcript March 25

North Carolina Coronavirus Briefing Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsCOVID-19 Briefing & Press Conference TranscriptsNorth Carolina Governor Roy Cooper COVID-19 Briefing Transcript March 25

North Carolina governor Roy Cooper provided a press briefing on March 25 for coronavirus in the state. Read the transcript of his speech here.

Roy Cooper: (00:01)
…employers and employees. This virus can be deadly, and that’s why our daily lives have had to change so dramatically. I know it’s hard, but it’s necessary. In the last few weeks, I’ve taken significant statewide actions to slow the spread of the virus. We’ve closed schools, banned social gatherings, closed numerous businesses that can increase the spread of the virus. We’ve limited nursing home visits, and we have encouraged people to stay home. These actions have been difficult, but necessary to slow the spread, and we know that further action to protect our state will be necessary. We’re in the process of working on additional statewide guidance, and restrictions that we will be announcing soon.

Roy Cooper: (01:10)
It’s imperative that we keep North Carolinians safe while at the same time doing everything that we can to limit the economic impact of this virus on businesses, workers and their families. These are difficult, deliberate, decisions and it is important that we get them right. There are also important steps that we can take right now to slow a spike in cases that could overwhelm our medical system. Stay at home when you can practice social distancing wherever you are. If you are a business, and haven’t done so yet, get your social distancing, and telework plans in place now. Do not wait. You owe it to your employees, and you may need those plans in order to stay open.

Roy Cooper: (02:14)
I want to again thank our healthcare workers who are showing us what courage means. You do your jobs every day, even in the face of a pandemic to keep us healthy, and to save our lives. Our state is grateful to you. Today, we join together as a state to keep those who are mourning in our prayers. Let’s also commit to doing our part to slow the spread of this deadly virus. In doing so, we honor their lives while we protect our communities. I’m joined today by Dr. Mandy Cohen, our secretary of the department of health human services. Mike Sprayberry, our director of emergency management. Erik Hooks our secretary of the department of public safety, and Nicole Fox is providing American sign language. Dr. Cohen, I’m going to call on you to share your update.

Dr. Cohen: (03:22)
[inaudible 00:03:22] Thank you, governor. I want to also extend my sympathies to the families who lost loved ones. As the governor said, it’s a sad reminder about why we have been so aggressive in our social distancing measures, and unfortunately we will likely see more deaths in North Carolina before this pandemic runs its course. I know this is really hard, but we need to be vigilant to save lives, so I ask my fellow North Carolinians, please hear our request today to maximize your social distancing. Our mandates are a minimum, and I hope you’re going well beyond those mandates to protect our communities. As the governor said, if you can telework, please telework. If you feel sick, and have mild symptoms, stay home, and call your doctor. Your individual actions will help us slow the spread of the virus. I also want to share some positive news, and developments in our fight against COVID 19. One we’ve made numerous policy changes in our Medicaid program so that our doctors, and other providers can really ramp up their access to telemedicine, which allows everyone to access the care that they need in safe settings.

Dr. Cohen: (04:40)
We’ve launched a hotline in partnership with the North Carolina Childcare Resource, and Referral Network, to provide childcare options for children of critical workers if you do not have access to typical care because of COVID 19 closures. In just four days, since setting up that hotline, we’ve connected more than 450 families to childcare. We’re also getting food to our kids, our public school districts, many working with community partners such as food banks, and faith-based entities have served 2.4 million meals, and 32,000 snacks since March the 15th. And yesterday, our pharmacy, and medical boards worked quickly to protect our medication resources for those who need it.

Dr. Cohen: (05:27)
No doubt, there are a lot of challenges, and our new reality of social distancing is hard, but I know we’ll get through this. I already see us pulling together. I see teachers finding a way to creatively engage their students. I see people grocery shopping for their high risk neighbors who are rightly staying at home. I see hundreds of healthcare professionals answering our call for volunteers. Even as we physically distance. It’s how we come together that will see us through, and remember there is help for you if you need it. Many behavioral health clinicians in North Carolina are ready to take new patients, and provide care over the phone or by video. More information’s available on our COVID 19 website under managing your overall health. Stay well.

Roy Cooper: (06:21)
I’ll now recognize Mike Sprayberry, our director of emergency management. Mike?

Mike Sprayberry: (06:26)
Thank you governor. Today is day 16 of the state emergency operations center activation for the COVID 19 response. 48 counties have their local emergency operations centers activated. 94 counties in the Eastern band of Cherokee Indians have declared local States of emergency. Our top priority here for the state emergency response team, remains getting critical, personal, protective equipment that our health care providers need. Yesterday we placed orders for $12.6 million in personal protective equipment, bringing the total amount of PPE ordered so far to $65.9 million. We’ve also increased the size of our sourcing team that is working to locate and order those supplies, and we have also increased the size of our national guard logistics team. That is helping to receive and redistribute those supplies as soon as they arrive. Donations of personal protective equipment like gloves, and masks, were coming in, and those are greatly appreciated. If you have supplies you would like to donate, you can send an email to our business emergency operations center.

Mike Sprayberry: (07:35)
That email address is Again, Helping our public health partners, and hospitals prepare for large expected numbers of coronavirus patients is also a top priority. We’re working with the office of emergency medical services to identify additional hospital beds to be available once the regular beds at the states hospitals are filled. We’ve also initiated a weekly call with North Carolina’s military bases, and their leaders to make sure they are well coordinated with the states COVID 19 response. North Carolina’s 211 is also helping hundreds of people each day with assistance, and information related to the Corona virus by dialing 211, people can help with food assistance, paying rent, and utilities support for families or just basic information. You can also receive information from 211 by text, just text C-O-V-I-D-N-C to 898211, to get regular information updates via text. I’d like to close by thanking all of our local partners who are there. One team, one mission. Thank you, sir.

Roy Cooper: (08:56)
We’re continuing to prepare. We’re continuing to be ready. We’re continuing to work to save lives, and we’re grateful for all of the good people who are working here at the emergency operations center 24/7 to protect the people in North Carolina. We’ll take your questions. [inaudible 00:09:21] yourself, and your organization when you get on the line please.

Andrea Blanford: (09:31)
Hi, governor Cooper, this is Andrea Blanford with ABC 11. I’m sure, as you know, local municipalities across the state are starting to issue stay at home orders. Durham mayor, Steve Schewel, said in a press conference just a couple of hours ago that he’s confident you will issue a statewide order, and Dr. Cohen just said the mandates so far are a minimum. So, can you please elaborate on what needs to happen before you order a statewide stay at home order? Are you even thinking about that yet?

Roy Cooper: (10:04)
First, thank you for that question. We want people to stay home, and local communities are doing what they think is right, and I understand that. It’s important for us to make sure that we are deliberate, and that we get this right. We’re telling people now that we want them to stay home. And can we see if we can fix that feedback that we’re getting here? We will be issuing additional orders soon. [inaudible 00:10:55]

Speaker 1: (10:55)
Ashley, can you hear us? [inaudible 00:00:11:00]. Yes. [inaudible 00:11:03]

Speaker 2: (11:02)
Can you hear us?

Ashley Talley: (11:02)
Yes. Hi, this is Ashley Talley from WRAL News.

Ashley Talley: (11:08)
Wondering how many people are hospitalized right now and as our hospitals are running low on PPEs, how much of a concern is that, especially as we begin to test fewer people throughout the state?

Roy Cooper: (11:25)
It’s important for all of our healthcare providers to have the supplies that they need, particularly personal protection equipment, PPE. We’re hearing about that all over the country and the importance of it. We know right now that it’s the Wild West out there in trying to buy this equipment. We started working on this in January and we’re working to order it from wherever we can get it. We also have convened a number of our textile manufacturers to get some of them on the road to switching over what they do to make this personal protection equipment because we know that we’re going to need a lot of it in the coming months and we want to make sure that our hospitals, our frontline doctors, our emergency responders, our law enforcement people like that have enough of it, but we know it’s in short supply across the country. I think we have 49 people. I’m going to let Doctor Cohen give you that number of people in our hospitals and we are working on data, collecting data from healthcare providers and hospitals across our state, where soon we will be able to give you the number of hospital beds we have available, the number of ICU beds we have available across our state.

Roy Cooper: (12:57)
We want that information and want to have that information so that we can be ready to set up additional hospitals if and when necessary in North Carolina because we don’t want to get into a situation where a person is not getting the kind of care that they need when they have to go to the hospital.

Roy Cooper: (13:18)
So Doctor Cohen, I’m going to recognize you to talk about that situation.

Dr. Cohen: (13:24)
Thank you sir. Currently, we have 29 folks across the state who are hospitalized. Again, that is a point in time we collect those at a point in time that the evening before that we’re able to share. We get that information now from our hospitals. Previously, we were doing that through our contact tracing. So as the governor said, as we’re able to collect more of this information from our hospitals, we want to be sure that we’re sharing what are available hospital beds, what are available ICU beds.

Dr. Cohen: (13:55)
But everyone should know at this point, we have capacity that we need to handle patients coming through folks doors.

Speaker 2: (14:15)
Thank you. Michael [inaudible 00:14:12].

Michael: (14:21)
I’m from CBS 17. I wondered about in New York, [inaudible 00:14:21].

Speaker 2: (14:24)
Michael, we’re having a hard time hearing you. Can you?

Speaker 2: (14:36)
Michael, we’ve have a bad connection.

Roy Cooper: (14:41)
I think one of the things that’s happening out there and many of you have experienced it in your businesses, there’s so much a teleconferencing going on that technical glitches occur and we’re sorry about that.

Speaker 2: (15:00)
Lynn? Can you hear us?

Lynn: (15:16)
I can. Can you guys hear me okay?

Speaker 2: (15:19)

Lynn: (15:20)
Okay. This question is for Doctor Cohen. We’ve seen from the World Health Organization, the CDC guidelines on testing that more testing is better, at least in their opinion and obviously we changed our strategy here. When looking at the CDC testing criteria, it does mention saving testing for those that are at risk, are seriously ill or frontline providers.

Lynn: (15:46)
Did we change our testing protocol out of necessity because we don’t have as many tests or have we seen evidence in other places that reducing the testing what we’re now doing, it makes a difference. Thank you.

Dr. Cohen: (15:59)
Yes, thank you for that question. So the World Health Organization is obviously giving very broad guidance for the entire world with a lot of different settings and different infrastructures.

Dr. Cohen: (16:11)
We are following the guidance from our United States Center for Disease Control and an over the last week that they have put out new guidance that is helping shape how we move forward and what I would remind folks is that this is a rapidly evolving situation. We’re trying to gather the best evidence and data that we can as well as advise folks as we move forward.

Dr. Cohen: (16:34)
So right now the CDC is, has given us guidance that for those who are sick, we ask them to stay home and to call their doctor. What I’ll tell you as a physician myself, I know that testing someone is not going to change the course of what we’re able to do.

Dr. Cohen: (16:50)
As a reminder, we don’t have medicines and we don’t have vaccines, so we want to be testing those who are hospitalized, are healthcare workers, those in longterm care facilities that help us deal with infection outbreaks. So that’s where we want to be concentrating our testing at this point.

Dr. Cohen: (17:10)
What I would say is that we know that we will evolve to different phases of this response but currently in this phase of our response, we’re going to ask folks who are sick to stay at home, to call their doctor if you have mild symptoms. We want you to stay at home and make sure you’re checking in with your doctor to report on your symptoms as you go forward here and that we’re going to be testing and focusing our testing on those who are in our healthcare facilities

Roy Cooper: (17:45)
… As well and notice that Doctor Cohen and I are grabbing this mic at different places because we’re keeping our social distancing and making sure that we’re not doing anything here to spread the virus. But one of the question was about testing, if you didn’t hear it and one of the main issues we have concerning testing is that the federal government did not provide enough supplies and tests across the country to be able to do the kind of testing that we need to do. So we got creative. Some other states got creative and working with our homegrown company here LabCorp. They started testing. Other organizations have started testing as well. So we are ahead of most other states in the number of tests that we have run.

Roy Cooper: (18:36)
But there are two main problems here. One, there’s a shortage of testing supplies and tests and capacity to run those tests. And two, there’s a shortage of personal protection equipment for those people administering the tests and what the healthcare professionals are saying because we have those kinds of shortages, that we need the personnel and the personal protection equipment used for people who are sick and who were in the hospital and making sure that those health care providers are there.

Roy Cooper: (19:12)
I think we definitely want to keep up and keep working on getting more testing supplies and getting more tests into the system. We need to do that because at some point, we can test as many people as possible, we have a better snapshot of where we’re going and what we need to do. But until this country can build up the supply chain for both personal protection equipment and testing that we need, we’ve got to concentrate it on the greatest need right now.

Roy Cooper: (19:45)
The important thing, the overall objective here is to save lives and we do that by trying to prevent the spread and getting people to stay home and we do that by making sure we have excellent medical treatment for the people who do need to be hospitalized and we’re going to work until we get there and make sure that as many people survive this and that North Carolina is healthy when this thing comes to an end. Next question.

Andrea Blanford: (20:23)
Hi, can you hear me?

Speaker 2: (20:25)
Yes, go ahead.

Andrea Blanford: (20:26)
Okay. My question is about childcare centers. There’s several groups that have called on the governor and Secretary Cohen to shut down childcare centers and then use emergency relief funds in order to use a select few to help provide childcare for emergency workers, medical workers.

Andrea Blanford: (20:47)
Is that something under consideration or is there other consideration to have other funds to help fund these childcare centers and childcare needs of families?

Roy Cooper: (20:56)
Clearly it is important for us to have childcare for our frontline responders and we want to do that in the best way possible and I know the Department of Health and Human Services has been looking at all of the options that we have and I’m going to let Doctor Cohen address that.

Dr. Cohen: (21:21)
Thank you for the question. In terms of childcare, what we’ve been advising folks, we understand that childcare is a hard issue for folks, What we’re asking is for families who are able to keep their children at home, thank you for that because we are trying to keep childcare open in certain circumstances for our frontline workers, as the governor mentioned.

Dr. Cohen: (21:44)
We put out guidance just yesterday where in order for a childcare program to stay open, they must comply with some stricter guidance on how to make sure that they’re creating a safe environment for their workers and for their children and practicing the kinds of social distancing measures that we want to see. So…

Dr. Cohen: (22:03)
… practicing the kinds of social distancing measures that we want to see. We’ve put out that guidance and essentially have required folks to adhere to that to make sure that the places that our frontline healthcare workers are getting their childcare are going to be appropriate for their families and their children.

Roy Cooper: (22:23)
Thank you. Next question.

Talitha Vickers: (22:31)
Yes, this is Talitha Vickers with WXII 12 News. I have a few questions for Governor Roy Cooper. First, Governor, obviously you’ve issued this executive order for restaurants and salons, barbershops and so forth. Will there be more restrictions in place for places like post offices, banks where people continue to gather? I get that they are essential workers but they are also working without protective gear on and many people gathering and lobbies and things like that. That’s the first question.

Talitha Vickers: (23:10)
Then the second question, if you could give us an update please, Governor Cooper, about unemployment checks? Just an update status on where things stand right now because I hear in the Triad we’re getting so many calls from viewers, and I’m sure across the state as well, regarding when checks will be issued because people are very concerned about that right now, of course, and naturally I’m sure this system is overrun at this time. Thank you.

Roy Cooper: (23:42)
Thank you. I don’t know if people out there could hear the two-part question, but the first part had to do with social gatherings in bars and restaurants and the importance of that and what else can we expect and the second part of the question had to do with the fact that a lot of people have lost jobs and what’s the status with unemployment insurance?

Roy Cooper: (24:03)
First, we have put some stringent requirements in place banning these social gatherings and we have closed businesses. We’ve asked them to voluntarily close before now, but at 5:00 today the order goes into effect for a number of businesses to close that draw larger gatherings of people and that also provide personal services that you just simply can’t have social distancing. The reason that we’ve done this is that this virus is just so highly contagious that when a number of people get together and stand close together for a certain period of time, we’ve seen it time and time again where a lot of people come away having contracted the virus.

Roy Cooper: (24:49)
Even though this is tough on people who want to go to church, I know that I’ve talked to a lot of leaders in the faith community and I’m grateful for them, even though they can’t have services in the building, they’re still serving their communities and I’m so grateful for them and grateful for the people who are working to try to make sure we keep our social distance.

Roy Cooper: (25:12)
We want to make sure that people stay home and we know that people have to go to work and to the grocery store and to get medicine and to get some exercise, but we want people to understand the seriousness of this. In addition to the guidance that we have provided thus far, we are working on additional guidance that we can share with the people of North Carolina to make sure that people do stay home as much as possible and that they make sure that they keep their social distance because we’ve got to slow down this increase of cases that our state is seeing and that the country is seeing. We have evidence that when we do keep our social distance, we can reduce the spread of this virus. It’s as simple as that.

Roy Cooper: (26:03)
As for people who have lost their jobs. This is just got to be such a difficult time for people. A lot of the people who’ve lost jobs have been jobs with small businesses, restaurants and bars and barbershops and these other businesses that often are small business. This has got to be tough.

Roy Cooper: (26:25)
That’s one of the reasons that I issued an executive order, loosening up our unemployment benefits, wiping away the requirement that you have to wait a week, wiping away the requirement that you have to be looking for another job during this time. Wiping away the requirement that this gets charged to the employer. All of those things will help the people, that’s well over 100,000 people right now have applied for unemployment insurance. I’m not sure what the exact number is right now, but I know that it is significant and they’re working very hard to get out checks next week to people.

Roy Cooper: (27:05)
We’ll get you an update on that and follow up with you, but I know that this is an organization that has been used to 3000 claims a week and we got 80,000 very quickly when this happened and more than that now that they’re handling, but they know the importance. I’ve talked to the employees over there, they know the employers and the importance of getting money to people.

Roy Cooper: (27:33)
Also, I’m glad that this package has been agreed to in Washington because we’re going to get some help for small businesses. We’re going to get some help for everyday workers and I think that that is critical and we understand that in order to save lives, that this is hurting our economy, that it’s hurting the economy across the globe and we’ve got to do everything we can do to help that family that’s worried about, “Where the next paycheck is going to come? How are we going to pay the rent? How are we going to buy groceries?”

Roy Cooper: (28:15)
I’ve talked to businesses across the state. I was on the phone with bankers today and they were talking about delaying foreclosures and helping to revamp loan products and not charging late fees and it’s important for all of us to pull together and realize that so many families, who were on the edge anyway, really now have fallen off a cliff and we’ve got to step in and help those families financially to get through all of this while we continue to work to keep people healthy and while we continue to work to save lives.

Travis Fain: (28:59)
This is Travis Fain with WRAL. I want to return to a question that got asked yesterday but not answered. What sort of modeling do you have access to and what does it tell you, Secretary Cohen, about when we should expect this to peak in our hospitals?

Roy Cooper: (29:13)
[inaudible 00:29:13] go and handle that.

Dr. Cohen: (29:18)
Thank you for that question. That is a work that is underway. We have a number of data scientists that have been trying to put together the best information possible. As I keep saying, things are changing so rapidly. We’re trying to learn lessons from around the world and around this country to understand what trajectory North Carolina is in so that we know how to plan for the exact kinds of resources that we need and where we need them.

Dr. Cohen: (29:41)
At this point, I don’t have a better answer yet on the, “When would this peak? What does this look like?” What I can say is North Carolina was later in the course of seeing our first case, later in the course of seeing our 100th case at a trajectory that is lower than what we were seeing in other states, but we want to be modeling this out so that we can be best prepared. But these are data models with a lot of assumptions that are challenging to make with the limited information that we have.

Dr. Cohen: (30:10)
We wish we had more precision with which to say, “If we did this one more thing or one less thing, that this will be the impact.” We don’t. We’re going to have to work through this with the best data we have available at this time as we refine those things over time. I can’t give you that answer now, but we’re trying to get as much information as we can to help us inform the decisions we’re making.

Lynn: (30:41)
Hey, can you hear me?

Moderator: (30:42)
Yeah, we got time for one more question after you, Harrison.

Lynn: (30:47)
All right. My question was for Governor Cooper. I was wondering what is the risk that the spread of coronavirus in North Carolina follows the path of New York City? Does population density and travel patterns play a role? Then my second question would be are there any collaboration efforts between states to either allocate resources or track the spread of the virus?

Roy Cooper: (31:12)
In answer to that question is do we expect the same kind of peak as in New York City? Clearly the city is much more dense than our population, that the population has more density than in North Carolina and travel patterns are different. They have a lot more public transportation than we do and we know for a fact that when people are close together that this virus spreads.

Roy Cooper: (31:41)
We also know that we have taken some early strong action that we believe will be effective in slowing the spread of the virus. We’re going to issue some additional guidance to people to make sure that we slow down the spread of this, so we’re going to continue to work and use all the data we can.

Roy Cooper: (32:04)
As for the previous question about how are we modeling out what kind of bed space we’re going to use and when we are going to see this peak in North Carolina, the problem is this is new and that we are analyzing data from other countries and from other states and it’s hard to predict, but what we know for a fact is that social distancing will help reduce this. We know for a fact that the more supplies that we can give our hospital, the more personnel that we can arm to go to war, the more hospital beds that we have to try to make sure that people are treated properly, the more work that is done to discover drugs that treat the symptoms and hopefully we get a vaccine as soon as possible. While all of those things are happening, we’ve got to make sure we do the best that we can to meet all of those needs and to take the steps that are best for-

Roy Cooper: (33:03)
All of those needs and to take the steps that are best for the health and safety of North Carolinians, and am very grateful for all the hard work that’s going on in that area.

Speaker 4: (33:19)
Okay. Hi. This is Elizabeth Anne from Asheville Citizen Times newspaper. Governor Cooper, you alluded to the possibility of setting up hospitals around the state as we crest capacity in hospitals, western North Carolina in particular is woefully unprepared on that count. Can you elaborate on that? I know there are some DOD offerings of [inaudible 00:33:41] style field hospitals. Is that what you’re referring to?

Roy Cooper: (33:44)
The question has to do with hospital capacity and how many beds that we hope to be able to have, and what kind of additional hospitals are we going to set up. First, we’re trying to create as much bed space in our hospitals as we can, and what has happened is that Secretary Cohen has asked all of our hospitals to stop elective surgery so that they can reduce the capacity, or reduce the number of people who are in their hospital beds now and increase that capacity. The second thing that we’re doing is we’re identifying places that we could quickly set up additional hospitals if it is necessary, and Dr. Cohen, along with Director Sprayberry, have a team in place that is getting ready to make sure, well they’re already, they’ve been preparing and identifying places that we have done this. We brought in the Army Corps of Engineers. We want to be ahead of this. I hope we don’t need it, but we have to be ready in the event that we do, and either Dr. Cohen or Mike might want to elaborate on that.

Roy Cooper: (34:55)
All right. Seems like I did that. Okay. All right guys. It is a day of mourning in North Carolina and I want us to remember these families as they are having a difficult time right now. Say a prayer for those families who are having to wait outside of a hospital room when a person is critically ill in the bed because of this contagious disease, and let’s all do our part to reduce the spread of this virus, and to help our neighbor, and as North Carolinians we can depend on each other and we’ll get through this. Thank you very much.

Roy Cooper: (35:43)

Speaker 5: (38:12)
And economic development standpoint through this crisis period. In fact, we’ve had three record years at the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. In the last three years, we’ve had record years with jobs, with capital investment and with increased wages. This year alone, we’ve already, in spite of the last two weeks, we are outpacing those three years. We have 8,327 job commitments this year, and already 1.2 billion in cap ex. So, while that immediate concern is the health of our workers and the health of our citizens, that’s good for us as down the road, we get into a recovery, we know that businesses have committed and they will continue to come and grow in our state.

Speaker 5: (38:52)
As recently as yesterday we had a commitment from a large business from out of the country that’s going to come here with 750 jobs in the medical IT business. So it’s been interesting. All my years, I’ve lived in Indiana my whole life, I’m 59, it’s always been interesting for me to see that in the worst of times, Hoosiers are always at their finest, and I can tell you that the business community in Indiana is outreaching, working very hard to be of assistance to everyone and has responded in the most positive of manner. Thank you.

Speaker 3: (39:28)
Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Partner, you want to give an update on your portfolio?

Suzanne Crouch: (39:36)
Suzanne Crouch, Lieutenant Governor, partner to our Governor, Eric Holcomb, and wanted to take this opportunity first of all to say in the midst of a challenging period, my spirits are lifted each day as I serve alongside governor Holcomb and these incredible individuals. From Lake County to the Ohio river, from Evansville to Fort Wayne, this crisis has affected Hoosiers in ways too many to count. But please know that your health and well-being are the driving force of every decision that we make. My agencies are holding weekly stakeholder calls so we can stay connected to our partners and our partners can stay connected to us.

Suzanne Crouch: (40:27)
Over 200,000 Hoosiers are employed in the tourism related industry and with that in mind, I ask you to think about our travel and hospitality workers in this ever changing situation. Find creative ways to show your support by shopping local when possible, and seek out virtual ways which you can connect to the services that they have to offer, like virtual state park adventures, historical museum tours, or interactive daily lessons from experts, and this information can be found on our visit Indiana website.

Suzanne Crouch: (41:03)
This is an extremely critical time for agriculture. Farmers have recently faced uncertainty with trade negotiations and inclement weather. ISDA is working tirelessly to ensure that our 94,000 Hoosier farmers have everything they need to plant their crops. Our farmers will continue to devote their lives to supplying Hoosiers with healthy, safe and plentiful food options. Just this morning, the ISDA was on conference calls to our number one and number two, trading partners, Canada and Mexico, and we let them know that while our borders may be closed, our relationships are strong and we are planning and prepared for the future.

Suzanne Crouch: (41:51)
In this time of social distancing, Hoosiers may feel more alone than ever, but social distancing doesn’t have to mean social isolation, and that is why our broadband office is making sure that we keep Hoosiers connected. People need to connect with their loved ones, do telemedicine services, e-learning assignments, and telework, and so much more. We are seeing countless partnerships come to life throughout the state to make sure that Hoosiers can click, connect and download all while maintaining social distancing.

Suzanne Crouch: (42:32)
We know that right now our main streets are struggling in our rural and urban areas, and our Office of Community and Rural Affairs is working to help ease their burden. In fact, earlier this week, in working with HUD, OCRA announced a COVID-19 response program that is utilizing our CDBG funds. Now, qualified communities can have the flexibility to use these funds for a range of activities that help prevent and respond to the spread or COVID-19. This program-

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