Bloomington parks and recreation staffer second city employee to test positive for COVID-19

In a press release issued Friday morning, the city of Bloomington has announced that a second city employee has tested positive for COVID-19. The confirmed positive case  announced on Friday was for a parks and recreation department employee.

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Playground equipment and workout stations are closed in Bloomington. Trails are still open. This is a view south where the B-Line Trail runs next to Switchyard Park.

According to the press release, the parks and recreation worker was placed on leave Monday, March 30, and tested for COVID-19, because they were showing symptoms consistent with the virus. The positive result of the test was returned yesterday (Thursday, April 2), according to the release.

According to the press release, the city is now tracing the parks and recreation employee’s contacts and following Centers for Disease Control guidelines

This is the second positive COVID-19 test for a city of Bloomington employee. The first, for a firefighter, was reported last Saturday.

According to Friday’s press release, the firefighter received medical clearance on Friday and is expected to return to duty on Saturday (April 4).
Continue reading “Bloomington parks and recreation staffer second city employee to test positive for COVID-19”

Census 2020: University, city working against COVID-19 to get Bloomington college students counted, local census numbers currently lagging behind rest of state

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Annotated screen shot from Our World in Data

[Note: The census can be completed online by visiting this link to the US Census. https://my2020census.gov/]

About six weeks ago, on Feb. 20, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, gave his annual “state of the city” address. The mayor’s basic theme was “everyone counts”—a riff on the decennial census that’s taking place this year.

Before the speech, in the lobby of the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, where Hamilton delivered his remarks, Beverly Calender-Anderson was passing out literature about the census.  She was encouraging people to make sure they get themselves counted. Calender-Anderson is director of Bloomington’s community and family resources department.

As the proceedings were called to order at the Buskirk-Chumley, city council president Steve Volan took some time at the podium to add a piece of “flair” to his lapel—a button promoting participation in the census.

In his brief remarks on the census, Volan focused on the importance of getting students counted correctly: “Students are to be counted, as the census says, where they ‘usually reside’. So it’s important that everyone who is in Bloomington be counted here.”

At the time, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the United States was 15. Now six weeks later, the confirmed case count across the country is more than 200,000. Indiana’s confirmed cases are doubling about every four days, and this week passed 3,000. Continue reading “Census 2020: University, city working against COVID-19 to get Bloomington college students counted, local census numbers currently lagging behind rest of state”

Hoosier state hangs some numbers on prep for COVID-19 patient surge, makes plea for more PPE

Barchart COVID-19 cases Indiana March 30

After initially declining to provide numerical descriptions of medical resources available to treat COVID-19 patients in the state, Indiana officials have started to quantify some of the ways they’re preparing for the expected surge in patient numbers.

They’re also asking for help in getting more personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers. Continue reading “Hoosier state hangs some numbers on prep for COVID-19 patient surge, makes plea for more PPE”

Indiana governor on when stay-at-home order might change: “I will be listening to doctors, physicians, scientists, law enforcement…”

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Screen grab from Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s March 26, 2020 press conference on COVID-19 updates. In the right of the frame is ASL interpreter Andy Rork.

The daily 2:30 p.m. press briefings that Indiana governor Eric Holcomb is now providing are made accessible to the Deaf community by ASL interpreter Andy Rork.

Not needing Rork’s translation at this Thursday’s briefing, was Holcomb’s answer to a reporter’s question, about the people he’d look to for guidance on lifting or extending his stay-at-home order. The order had gone into effect two days earlier. Continue reading “Indiana governor on when stay-at-home order might change: “I will be listening to doctors, physicians, scientists, law enforcement…””

Indiana’s stay-at-home order allows for outdoor recreation, governor still wants people to keep distance between each other

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Looking south in Switchyard Park on Thursday, March 25, 2020. The yellow caution tape wrapped around the playgrounds and exercise stations means they’re are off limits. The B-Line Trail in the right of the frame is open for walking, running, and bicycling. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

At a 2:30 p.m. press conference on Thursday, Indiana’s governor Eric Holcomb was asked by a reporter to respond to criticism that his stay-at-home order didn’t go far enough.

The order is supposed to help stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, which has killed 17 people so far in Indiana since the first case was confirmed on March 6. Three weeks later the number of confirmed cases stood at 645.

The order, which went into effect on Wednesday, allows for a raft of exceptions, for businesses considered “essential”—including retail stores that sell alcoholic beverages and businesses that provide real estate services.

Was the order having an impact? Holcomb’s answer: Yes.

Holcomb’s response included the fact that his stay-at-home order has a requirement on the continued operation of essential businesses. They’re supposed to continue to operate only if they can maintain a six-foot distance between people, including customers standing in line, a concept that’s now called “social distancing.”

Holcomb applied the same social distancing concept to outdoor recreational activities. Allowed under the stay-at-home order are, for example, walking, hiking, running, or bicycling.

Holcomb encouraged people who go outside, especially on days like the one the day before, when skies were sunny and temperatures hit the mid-60s.

Holcomb said, “Yesterday was a great day to be outdoors, and I encourage people to get out and walk their dog.” He immediately added, “Or get out and walk their cat, if they want.” Continue reading “Indiana’s stay-at-home order allows for outdoor recreation, governor still wants people to keep distance between each other”

June 2 with no-excuse absentee voting OK’d for primary by Indiana’s state election commission

Indiana’s four-member election commission met Wednesday morning to consider an order related to the state’s primary election, originally scheduled for May 5, but postponed to June 2 by governor Eric Holcomb’s order last week.

The postponement was made because of the COVID-19 pandemic that is spreading across the world, including the state of Indiana. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indiana has nearly doubled (increases by 1.8 times) in two days, from 259 on March 23 to 477 on March 25. Barchart COVID-19 cases Indiana March 25 The number of tests during that same period has increased by a similar amount, from from 1,960 on March 23 to 3,356 on March 25. COVID-19 has killed at least 14 people in the state, according to the state’s health department.

A highlight of the election commission’s order is the following: “All registered and qualified Indiana voters are afforded the opportunity to vote no-excuse absentee by mail.” Continue reading “June 2 with no-excuse absentee voting OK’d for primary by Indiana’s state election commission”

Indiana governor about “shelter in place” for COVID-19: “We’re not there, yet.”

Responding to a reporter’s question at an early afternoon press conference on Thursday, Indiana’s governor, Eric Holcomb, said about the idea of issuing a statewide “shelter in place” order in response the COVID-19 pandemic: “We’re not there, yet.”

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Yellow: “Individuals should use caution or avoid those areas”; Orange: Conditions are “threatening to the safety of the public.” Red (none yet): Travel restricted to emergency management workers. (Image links to State of Indiana’s travel advisory page.)

But as of late Thursday afternoon, about a dozen counties in the state have invoked their powers to issue travel advisories under the state statute that allows a county’s principal executive to declare a local disaster emergency.

The local disaster emergency for Monroe County, declared by board of commissioners president Julie Thomas on Tuesday, did not include a travel advisory.

None of the advisories, issued by the 11 other counties, rise to the level of a “warning” which would restrict travel to just emergency management workers.

Four counties, extending in a line eastward from Marian County (Indianapolis) to Wayne County, along I-70, have all issued a travel “watch,” which means that conditions are “threatening to the safety of the public.”

The line of four counties is bookended by Marion County on the east, which has 19 confirmed cases as of March 19, and Wayne County on the west, which has one confirmed case. Continue reading “Indiana governor about “shelter in place” for COVID-19: “We’re not there, yet.””

COVID-19: Governor activates Indiana National Guard, alters public meeting requirements; Bloomington city council to meet

In a late Tuesday afternoon press release, Indiana’s governor has added to the orders he announced on Monday to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic health emergency.

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New in the executive order, compared to Monday’s announcement, is the activation of the Indiana National Guard “as needed, to address and assist in this public health emergency.”

Also new in Tuesday’s executive order is the temporary loosening, and in some cases tightening, of certain requirements of Indiana’s Open Door Law for public meetings. Continue reading “COVID-19: Governor activates Indiana National Guard, alters public meeting requirements; Bloomington city council to meet”

Commissioner on land contributions from city, county for convention center expansion: “We are really far apart on this one.”

After meeting for more than two hours on Monday night, city and county officials were maybe incrementally closer to hammering out an interlocal agreement that’s meant to help move forward a $44-million convention center expansion project.

The current convention center is located at College Avenue and 3rd Street.

On Monday, elected officials reviewed the newest draft of the interlocal agreement, which is intended to supplement statutory requirements for the eventual formation of a capital improvement board (CIB).

Sticking points are the same as those identified at a meeting earlier in the year: the way appointments are made to the convention and visitors commission; and which parcels of land will be contributed to the new CIB by the two sides.

Of the two topics, it’s the land contributions where city and county officials have the more serious disagreement. President of the county commissioners, Julie Thomas, said about the land issue: “We are really far apart on this one.”

The city wants to see all the city- or county-owned land in the vicinity of the convention center put at the disposal of the CIB. County officials want to contribute just the parcels to the CIB that are known to be needed for the current project. [city proposal] [county proposal]

The two sides are hoping for a next meeting on March 2.

May 19 will be the one-year mark for the time the project has been stalled, since a steering committee voted to recommend a northward instead of an eastward expansion of the existing convention center facility.  The yet-to-be-formed CIB is supposed to make the final choice of the site plan.

Continue reading “Commissioner on land contributions from city, county for convention center expansion: “We are really far apart on this one.””

Indiana Court of Appeals rules 2–1: Bloomington’s definition of fraternity delegated undue authority to Indiana University

In a ruling issued Thursday, a three-judge panel from the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled 2–1 to uphold a lower court ruling: The definition of a fraternity or sorority in Bloomington’s zoning code violates the US Constitution because it delegates to Indiana University the city’s authority to determine zoning compliance. Continue reading “Indiana Court of Appeals rules 2–1: Bloomington’s definition of fraternity delegated undue authority to Indiana University”