Indiana order blocks local bans on virus patient moves

Nursing homes around Indiana will be allowed to establish facilities specifically for coronavirus patients under an order issued Tuesday by the state health commissioner. The action came after state health officials said Indiana’s COVID-19 death toll had grown by 37 to 387.

Posted: Apr 15, 2020 8:58 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Nursing homes around Indiana will be allowed to establish facilities specifically for coronavirus patients under an order issued Tuesday by the state health commissioner. The action came after state health officials said Indiana’s COVID-19 death toll had grown by 37 to 387.

NURSING HOMES

Elderly people and those with serious health troubles living in nursing homes are among the most at-risk from COVID-19 infections. At least 46 residents of 12 long-term care facilities in Indiana have died from the virus, including 22 patients from an Anderson nursing home, according to the state health department.

But an attempt by a nursing home operator to concentrate coronavirus patients at a facility in the southwestern Indiana city of Washington met opposition from local residents and was banned by the county health officer. Officials in eastern Indiana’s Delaware County issued a similar order earlier this month.

Dr. Kristina Box, the state health commissioner, said she has worked closely with local health departments but the statewide order can help nursing homes protect residents who aren’t ill and better care for those who are infected.

“We fully believe that this is a necessary step to help to further protect the vulnerable residents in our 92 counties,” Box said.

The Indiana Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, said in a statement that the state should help identify alternative treatment locations for COVID-19 patients and make sure long-term care workers have adequate protection supplies.

AFRICAN AMERICAN CONCERNS

Some state lawmakers called Tuesday for Gov. Eric Holcomb’s administration to take more steps to protect African Americans from the coronavirus.

About 20% of Indiana’s virus deaths have been black residents, about double their percentage of the state population. African Americans around the country have been dying at higher rates.

Members of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus said the state should increase testing in neighborhoods with large minority populations and require paid time off for workers in low-paid jobs in groceries and restaurants who can’t afford to miss work when they are ill.

Democratic Rep. Robin Shackleford of Indianapolis, the group’s chairwoman, said since African Americans suffer from higher rates of obesity, diabetes and asthma, more has to be done to emphasize the dangers of the virus.

“Because we have these prior conditions, because we may be more susceptible if we get the virus it could be very deadly,” Shackleford said. “I don’t think that message has been getting out.”

Box said Tuesday that the health department was working to increase testing availability in cities such as Gary, Fort Wayne and Evansville at locations accessible to minority workers.

ADDITIONAL DEATHS

The latest reported deaths included one that occurred on March 15, which is a day before what had been Indiana’s first recorded COVID-19 death.

Indiana’s official toll didn’t yet include the state’s first prison inmate fatality, which occurred Monday at Westville Correctional Facility. The inmate was older than 70, according to the state Department of Correction. Tests confirmed virus infections among 27 inmates at seven of Indiana's 22 prison system facilities, the agency's commissioner said Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and other prisoner advocates have unsuccessfully pushed for the release of prison inmates who face greater risk from virus infections because of other illnesses. Holcomb repeated his stance Tuesday against the early release of any inmates.

State health officials added 313 more COVID-19 cases to make Indiana’s total more than 8,500.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 47432

Reported Deaths: 2687
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11546683
Lake5104242
Elkhart321144
Allen2737129
St. Joseph190866
Cass16389
Hamilton1538100
Hendricks1390100
Johnson1256118
Porter72037
Tippecanoe6948
Madison65564
Clark64044
Bartholomew58244
Howard56557
LaPorte56326
Kosciusko5354
Vanderburgh5026
Marshall4823
Jackson4693
Noble46928
LaGrange4677
Hancock44035
Boone43743
Delaware43150
Shelby42325
Floyd37144
Morgan32731
Montgomery29320
Grant29126
Clinton2882
Monroe27628
Dubois2666
White26010
Henry25815
Decatur24932
Lawrence24225
Vigo2318
Dearborn22823
Harrison21222
Warrick21229
Greene18532
Miami1822
Jennings17411
Putnam1688
DeKalb1604
Scott1607
Daviess14216
Orange13623
Wayne1366
Steuben1282
Perry1279
Franklin1248
Ripley1157
Jasper1142
Wabash1122
Carroll1102
Fayette987
Newton9810
Starke923
Whitley905
Randolph784
Huntington742
Jefferson722
Wells711
Fulton691
Jay680
Washington681
Gibson672
Knox640
Pulaski641
Clay604
Rush563
Adams501
Benton480
Owen471
Sullivan441
Brown381
Posey380
Blackford372
Spencer371
Crawford300
Fountain302
Tipton301
Switzerland260
Martin220
Parke220
Ohio140
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike100
Unassigned0193

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