State: Virus cases top 11,200, death toll now 562

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s coronavirus death toll has jumped by 17 as state health officials said Sunday there have been at least 562 virus-related deaths in little more than a month.

That report came a day after hundreds of people watched from their vehicles as a funeral honored a Terre Haute firefighter who died from COVID-19.

The newly reported deaths happened between April 11 and Saturday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. The new reports made this past Tuesday the state’s highest single day of COVID-19 deaths at 35. Two days earlier in April each have 34 deaths recorded. Indiana’s first recorded death happened March 15.

The health department also said tests had confirmed 577 more COVID-19 illnesses in Indiana, raising the state’s total to more than 11,200 since the first cases were confirmed in early March.

Gov. Eric Holcomb announced Friday he would be extending the statewide stay-at-home order until May 1 to slow the coronavirus spread. Holcomb said state officials are working on plans for reopening parts of the state’s economy after the stay-at-home order was first imposed March 25.

Dozens of first responders across the state have been infected with the coronavirus and the first reported death among them was of Terre Haute firefighter and paramedic John Schoffstall on Easter Sunday.

Vehicles filled the West Vigo High School parking lot during Saturday’s outdoor service for 41-year-old who was a firefighter for more than 11 years. He was married and the father of three children.

Fellow firefighters wore black face masks with Schoffstall’s name and badge number during the funeral and tossed white carnations toward his casket as they drove past it.

Schoffstall’s mother is also ill with COVD-19 and couldn’t attend the funeral. His father, Rex Schoffstall, asked during the service for prayers.

“I know John’s looking after his mom,” he said. “I don’t think I can go through another one of these. Please help me take care of her.”

Terre Haute Mayor Duke Bennett eulogized Schoffstall as someone with a sense of humor and positive attitude.

“Let us hold John up as an example of how we should live our own lives, with courage, compassion, sacrifice and love,” Bennett said.

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