FSSA chief: Mental health issues up amid pandemic

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is experiencing more substance use disorders and other mental health issues amid the coronavirus outbreak, the state's human services chief said Wednesday.

Meanwhile, 21 more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, state health officials said Wednesday as Indianapolis' mayor announced that the state capital would begin lifting more of its coronavirus restrictions starting Friday.

Indiana experienced its highest monthly dispensation of the opioid antidote naloxone in April, WITH 1,306 uses, Jennifer Sullivan, secretary of the Family and Social Services Administration said during a state news briefing.

“We've never seen naloxone distribution like this before,” Sullivan said.

Year to date, nearly 1.5% of all emergency medical runs involve administration of naloxone, or Narcan, compared with less than 1% for the same period last year, she said..

The state announced last week it will use nearly $1 million in federal funds to pay for the distribution of naloxone to first responders, families, friends and others who are likely to be the first on the scene if someone overdoses. The money was made available by a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Naloxone is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose. It blocks the toxic effects of the overdose and is often the difference between a patient living and dying.

During then first few weeks of May, 211 local service operators took 57 domestic violence calls, 14 suicide or homicide calls, and made 732 referrals to mental health providers, Sullivan said. Domestic violence hotlines and 911 operators have recorded extraordinary increases in calls across the state, she said.

“Please keep calling. We are here,” Sullivan said.

Virus cases

The 21 new confirmed COVID-19 deaths occurred between May 20 and Tuesday, raising Indiana's confirmed deaths to 1,871, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

Another 159 people have died from probable infections of COVID-19 and those deaths increase Indiana’s confirmed or presumed COVID-19 deaths to 2,030 since the state's first deaths was recorded on March 15, according to data posted on the state agency’s coronavirus dashboard.

Another 370 Hoosiers have been diagnosed with COVID-19, boosting the state’s total confirmed number of cases to 32,437, the state health department said.

Indianapolis reopening

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Wednesday that the city would enter the next phase of its economy's reopening on Monday.

Ahead of those changes, starting Friday the city's houses of worship can resume indoor services at 50% capacity, provided worshipers maintain six feet (1.8 meters) of distance and wear a face covering.

“We must remain vigilant even as we continue to reopen our economy, which means wearing face coverings out in public and maintaining social distance when interacting with others," Hogsett said in a statement.

Starting Monday, the city's current 25-person limit for public gatherings will increase to 50 individuals, and restaurants can resume serving at 50% total capacity for indoor and outdoor dining, as long as staff wear protective equipment and patrons keep 6 feet of distance from other tables.

Among some of the other changes, hair salons can re-open by appointment only Monday, provided that protective equipment is worn and other social distancing measures are met.