COVID-19 Update- Marion County - Indianapolis
This is a brief summary of the presentations that were heard at last night’s Full Council meeting. I am sure many of you are being contacted by constituents with a variety of concerns. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list – however – I hope that this is helpful as you can help direct your folks to resources available in our community.
Also – I have attached here the Mayor’s Executive Order declaring a local disaster emergency and here are a few links that are likely well known to you by now but just making sure everyone has them:
City’s COVID-19 Community Resources Website:
Updated City-County Council Website for Constituents to Leave Online Public Comments:
If you have additional questions or concerns please let me know.
Dr. Caine/Marion County Health Department
As of March 16th, we had 7 known cases of COVID-19 in Marion County and 1 death. The health department has determined that we have “community spread” meaning we are unable to identify where each case originated and with whom each infected individual had been in contact. Additionally, we have a Memorandum of Understanding with adjacent counties and are working in concert with one another.
If you have a constituent with concerns about symptoms, testing or other general medical information you can direct them to the Marion County Health Department’s Call Center at 317-221-5500.
The Council may need to help identify additional resources for those impacted by closures and at this time can best serve as a resource to and in coordinating with your own constituents within your district.
Michael Huber/Indy Chamber
85% of the Chamber’s 2000 members are small businesses. While the Chamber agrees it is necessary to close restaurants, bars, and other establishments at this time they are cognizant of the toll that this will take on the business community and their employees.
The Chamber is currently working with the State and the Administration on potential federal resources which may shortly be made available through SBA, DOL, and HHS. Additionally, they are hoping to address short term unemployment issues through the state.
For the time being – if you have a constituent with a business-related concern the best information that you can direct them to is this website: response.indychamber.com The Chamber strongly encouraged the Council to continue monitoring the situation and stressed the importance of working in a bipartisan manner, providing collaborative and speedy decisions in the current environment.
Last week IPS along with the other school districts in Marion County took swift, decisive action in closing schools throughout the County. This decision was made mindful of the ramifications for all students, especially our most vulnerable and the staff that educates them.
School districts have three priorities during this unprecedented time; how can we continue to educate, how can we continue to serve the social and emotional needs of our students, and how can we flatten the curve and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
As far as education there is a difference between e-learning and home learning. Not every student has access to a reliable internet at home. IPS is working through these challenges and the timing of these closures County-wide was in coordination with Spring Break to mitigate the impact of disruption in the schedule both to education and to families.
As for SEL – the first day of schools being closed alone IPS served 8,000 meals to kids. As the weekend unfolded new partnerships with community partners lead to more options, more locations and will lead to more meals served.
Districts will continue working with other partners on clothing, shelter, and other basic needs to address all SEL needs for students.
Additionally, the support staff will continue to be paid throughout the closure.
Councilors were encouraged to leverage their social media and other communication networks to help spread good, up to date, accurate information to their constituents coming from the school districts.
Jennifer Vigran/Second Helpings
Second Helpings is known as “The Community’s Kitchen” and is able to provide the services it does in large part through volunteers. Food assistance programs County wide are in fact largely, if not solely, staffed by volunteers. Most are over the age of 60 or come from partnerships with corporations. Both of these sources of volunteers are drying up at our community’s time of need.
New policies and procedures such as grab and go meals are being implemented across our food access system. These new practices will help allow for the proper social distancing between volunteers and clients.
Please encourage those able-bodied folks who can are able to help to do so. Whether it is volunteering with a service provider such as Second Helpings or Gleaners or just checking in on a neighbor, there are plenty of ways to help at this time without coming into contact with anyone.
Councillor Graves indicated last night that he would be interested in helping coordinate with service providers and the Council so that there is one point of contact referring potential volunteers. If you have constituents who would like to help please contact Councillor Graves at this time.
Ann Murtlow/United Way of Central Indiana
COVID-19 is changing the way we act and interact on an hourly basis. It is too early to tell what the aftermath will be.
UWCI is currently working with its local partners to ensure that it has updated its business plans to sustain the crisis. This is important not just for the organization's sustainability but also for its employees.
UWCI is committed to investing financial resources in those organizations locally who are best situated to address our community's needs as they become more prevalent.
The Central Indiana COVID-19 Community Economic Relief Fund was launched with a $15 million donation from Lilly Endowment Inc., and $500,000 contributions from each of the Richard M. Fairbanks Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company Foundation and United Way of Central Indiana. Central Indiana Community Foundation and Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust are also participating. United Way invites all individuals to donate to the fund.
If you have constituents who are interested in donating to the fund they can do so online at uwci.org.
At the same website constituents who are interested in volunteering can also find ways to do so both in-person and virtually.
Specific issues that UWCI sees right now as potential hurdles include:
Seniors are vulnerable not just to the virus but to repercussions from isolation including food, Rx and mental health. Simple phone calls can be a big help and can identify basic needs not being addressed. Expansion and coordination of drive-through services. Child care for first responders. Food for students. Housing for homeless, re-entry, immigrants, refugees and others most vulnerable.
UWCI thanked the Council for being a worthwhile partner and reiterated that moving forward quick, decisive action addressing some of the above may be necessary in short order including additional appropriations and support.