Tuesday, March 23, 2020 Briefs

As reported yesterday moments after being signed by Executive Order, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb gave a new address at noon Monday updating plans to reduce the spread of COVID-19 ordering Hoosiers to stay at home.  The order is in effect from March 25 to April 7.   Hoosiers should stay in their homes except when they are at work or for permitted activities, such as taking care of others, obtaining necessary supplies, and for health and safety.  A “stay at home” order essentially allows people to continue performing tasks essential to the health and safety of family and pets.  That means you can get food, care for a loved one, access necessary healthcare or go to work.  Beginning Tuesday, all state government offices will be closed to in-person public activity until at least April 7.  All public safety functions will continue.  In conjunction with the closures, Gov. Holcomb ordered an automatic extension of all state-issued licenses and will advise law enforcement to refrain from issuing citations for a driver’s license or registration that expires during this emergency.

Some good news – more examples of people coming together to help:  CareSource has announced a $100,000 donation in support of Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to provide food for Hoosiers who are quarantined as a result of COVID-19.  This donation will help Feeding Indiana’s Hungry to support its member Indiana food banks with the goal of distributing nutritious food directly to individuals in need.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns announced the cancellation of the May Commencement ceremony.  Input is being sought for alternatives to the ceremony, to honor the Graduates.

Wondering what to do if your flight is impacted by the coronavirus pandemic?  Airlines have slashed hundreds of flights   Travelers should be aware of the following before making any changes to their plans:  If an airline has canceled a flight, a passenger is entitled to a refund from the airline regardless of whether they will be booking a new flight.  A passenger is entitled to a refund if an airline makes a significant schedule change and/or significantly delays a flight and the passenger chooses not to travel.  If you do not receive a refund from an airline, or other entity to which you believe you are entitled, you may file a complaint with the Office’s Consumer Protection Division.

We again remind all – The best way to protect yourself from COVID19 and any respiratory illness, including the flu, is to:  Wash your hands often w/ soap & water for at least 20 seconds. If soap & water are not available, use alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.  Avoid close contact (within 6 feet) with people who are sick.  Stay home when you are sick.  Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.  Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

Grant County businesses impacted by the Global Pandemic, the COVID-19 virus, will now have access to financial assistance through the Growth Council’s COVID-19 Loan Fund. Businesses operating in Grant County, with less than 30 employees, are eligible to apply for up to $7,500 in funding. The Growth Council is now taking applications.  To apply for the COVID-19 Loan Fund or access additional resources and information, see the link our News Page.

From Delaware County Prosecutor Eric Hoffman, “I continue to follow the recommendations and directives from officials. There is NO need to panic – there IS a need to slow down the spread of this virus.”  Their office is closed for the time being, and you should call for more information.

More good news, as organizations come together to help.  The Community Foundation of Muncie and Delaware County, Inc. awarded $20,000 to 12 nonprofit organizations to support response efforts to the COVID-19 crisis.  Because of their history of unrestricted donor support, they are able to flexibly respond to unexpected and changing needs in the community. The Community Foundation will continue to assess our community’s needs and respond appropriately.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced on Monday that it will close to the public its office at the Indiana Government Center downtown as well as all WorkOne centers statewide at the end of the day until further notice.  Individuals must apply for unemployment benefits online using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Online filing information can be found at www.unemployment.in.gov.  If individuals still have questions, they can contact DWD via email or telephone. Due to extremely high call volume, they are requesting that individuals only reach out with questions on the day corresponding with the first letter of their last name to assist with wait times. Here is the schedule:

Monday:             A-E

Tuesday:            F-I

Wednesday:       J-M

Thursday:           N-T

Friday:                U-Z

Friday:                If You Missed Your Day

DWD is working on a telephone application to assist those who do not have access to a computer or smart phone with filing for unemployment benefits and will publish information as soon as it is ready.

Muncie-Delaware County Chamber of Commerce office, located in the Horizon Convention Center, is closed until further notice. Our staff is working remotely and remains committed to providing the same services and resources to our members as we always do. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to address your questions, needs, or concerns.

Ball State President Geoffrey Mearns announced the cancellation of the May Commencement ceremony.  Input is being sought for alternatives to the ceremony, to honor the Graduates.

Second Harvest Food Bank of East Central Indiana will provide food for families in need at the monthly Tailgate distribution from 8 to 10 a.m. on Thursday, March 26. The Tailgate will be held at the Muncie Mall east side parking lot at 3501 N. Granville Ave., in Muncie. Please enter onto Granville from E. McGalliard Road.

The COVID19 situation might actually buy some time to resolve a dispute between two governmental bodies in Madison County over the purchase of additional voting machines.  Last week the Madison County Election Board approved a contract with Election Systems & Software (ES&S) to purchase an additional 170 voting machines and 15 tabulators.  The election board approved a four year lease/purchase agreement with ES&S and directed Madison County Auditor Rick Gardner to pay the claim.  The Herald Bulletin reports that County Attorney Jonathan Hughes with Bose McKinney & Evans sent a letter to ES&S attorney that since the contract to purchase the additional voting machines was not approved by the commissioners, the company might not be paid.  In his letter Hughes said state law requires all contracts and all payments to be approved by the commissioners and that the election board acted outside the scope of its authority.  The primary being postponed until June 2, instead of May 5, buys county officials some time to resolve the issue.