Officials won't detail nursing home virus outbreaks

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana officials refused Tuesday to identify nursing homes around the state where coronavirus outbreaks have occurred, even as they disclosed that at least 43 more deaths linked to those facilities have happened in the past week.

The 162 deaths from 74 facilities that the state health commissioner said had occurred represent nearly 26% of Indiana’s 630 COVID-19 fatalities recorded through Monday.

Almost 70% of Indiana’s deaths have been among people ages 70 and older as elderly people and those with serious health troubles living in nursing homes are among the most at-risk from COVID-19 infections.

Officials had earlier this month identified some nursing homes with multiple deaths, including an Anderson facility where at least 22 patients have died.

But the health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, has declined in recent days to provide more than statewide totals of infections and deaths even as some states have started to release more detailed information. Box said new federal regulations require nursing homes to notify families about infections and deaths among residents and would investigate complaints about facilities that don’t comply.

“That’s where we’re going to leave that at this point,” Box said.

Testing has confirmed 1,568 COVID-19 infections at 199 facilities around the state, Box said. That’s up from 1,193 cases at 152 sites in state statistics provided last Wednesday.

Death toll rises

Sixty-one more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll to 630 in the past five weeks, state health officials said Tuesday.

The Indiana State Department of Health said the 61 new deaths occurred between April 7 and Monday. The new reports pushed the April 14 total as the state’s highest single day of COVID-19 deaths to 39. Three days earlier in April each have 34 deaths recorded. Indiana’s first recorded death happened March 15.

The state’s total number of deaths will rise significantly later this week as the official count starts including deaths that doctors blame on coronavirus infections for which test confirmations aren’t available, Box said.

The state agency said 431 more Indiana residents have been diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the state’s total to almost 12,100.

Restaurant losses

A new survey estimates that 200,000 people, or about 83%, of Indiana’s restaurant workforce have lost their jobs since coronavirus restrictions were imposed last month.

The survey from the National Restaurant Association released Tuesday found Indiana restaurants reporting an average 77% drop in revenue as only carryout and drive-thru service is allowed under the statewide stay-at-home order that prohibits in-person dining. That amounts to a projected $920 million revenue loss for the month of April.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said restaurants should prepare for new requirements such as added space between tables when in-person dining is allowed again.

Some business restrictions could be lifted beginning in May, but Holcomb said Tuesday regulations could vary by region around the state depending on COVID-19 infection levels.

Relief payments ruling

Creditors cannot seize federal coronavirus relief payments from Indiana residents under a ruling from the state Supreme Court.

The decision released Monday prohibited new court orders from garnish those relief payments to satisfy overdue debts owed to auto dealers, credit card companies, hospitals and other businesses. The court’s order doesn’t apply to overdue child support payments.

“It is a relief that stimulus payments will be able to be used to meet urgent needs like housing, food, medicine and utilities,” said Jessica Fraser, director of the Indiana Institute for Working Families.




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