State reports coronavirus disproportionately affecting black residents

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State officials today announced COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting black Indiana residents, a trend other states have reported in the last week.

Black Indiana residents have accounted for 18.5 percent of positive COVID-19 diagnoses and 19.2 percent of COVID-19 deaths to date, while only accounting for 9.8 percent of the state’s population, State Health Commissioner Kristina Box reported.

To date, white Indiana residents have accounted for 50 percent of positive cases of the disease and 69 percent of deaths. They account for 85.1 percent of Indiana’s population, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

State officials also announced they, at this time, are unable to account for the race of 19.1 percent of people who tested positive and 7.3 percent of deaths attributed to the disease, but Box said she expects to receive more complete data from state hospitals next week.

“We’re going after that data,” Gov. Eric Holcomb said during a press conference. “The more we know, the more that informs us on how to address this issue, whether it be (caused by) disparity or inequity.”

Box said race and ethnicity breakdowns of COVID-19 patients in Indiana would be added to the state’s online coronavirus dashboard, coronavirus.in.gov, starting Monday. Box also said daily updates to state data on the dashboard would be posted at noon starting Monday. Since the dashboard’s creation, in March, daily updates have been posted at 10 a.m.

Today, the state reported it has more than doubled its total number of ICU beds and ventilators from its baseline.

State officials reported Indiana has a total capacity of 2,930 ICU beds, as of this time. Twenty-eight percent of the beds are in use to care for COVID-19 patients; 31 percent are in use to serve other patients; and 41 percent of ICU beds are still available, according to the Indiana State Dept. of Health.

On Sunday, state officials reported 31.2 percent of total ICU beds were being used to treat COVID-19 patients; 26.9 for other patients and that 41.9 percent of beds were available. But the number of Indiana residents who have died from the disease caused by the new coronavirus has increased while the number of ICU beds used to care for those fighting the disease has decreased. The ISDH today reported 300 total COVID-19 deaths in the state. On Sunday, the ISDH had reported 263 deaths.

State officials also reported the state has a total capacity of 2,762 ventilators – 18 percent of which are in use to treat COVID-19 patients; another 13 percent are used for other patients; and 69 percent are reported to still be available.

Indiana’s baseline for ICU beds and ventilators is 1,432 and 1,177, respectively, according to the governor’s office.

And while health workers battle to save lives and preserve resources, state officials aim to mitigate the economic fallout resulting from unprecedented measures taken to slow the virus’ spread.

From July 2019 to February 2020, state revenues remained strong, bringing in $100 million more than estimated, but state officials today reported the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has cut those figures to $33 million more than estimated through March, a $67 million tumble in only a month.

April through June has historically proven to be workhorse months for the state, bringing in more monthly revenue on average than any other three-month span, and state officials said they expect the pandemic to continue to stifle revenues during the three-month span. State officials in recent weeks announced the state has started dipping into its nearly $2.3 billion in reserves as a result.

Recently the federal government passed a number of acts in an effort to help states, businesses and citizens. One, the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act is expected to funnel $10.6 million to Indiana. Another, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, a $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed by the federal government in response to the pandemic, is expected to provide over $3 billion for state needs.

In response, Holcomb today announced the creation of the Indiana Economic Relief and Recovery Team to plan, administer and account for federal relief funds the state receives from the CARES Act. Office of Management and Budget Director Cris Johnston and Secretary of Commerce Jim Schellinger will chair the team.

A committee of business leaders with extensive public service background will advise the chairs. Members of the committee include Al Hubbard, former economic policy advisor and director of the National Economic Council for former President George W. Bush; Luke Kenley, former Indiana state senator; Ryan Kitchell, former OMB director; Kristin Marcuccilli, Indiana Economic Development Corp. board member; Becky Skillman, former lieutenant governor.


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