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March 2020

Let’s Work Together to Support Local Communities

The coronavirus pandemic has effected so many aspects of our daily lives, and now we all must to do our part to protect ourselves and each other. To fight the spread of the virus, the governor’s “stay-at-home” order is in place through April 6. This unprecedented effort is to help save lives and alleviate the strain on our health care system. Hoosier families and businesses are resilient and patient, but Indiana’s leaders understand the need for Hoosiers to get back to work as soon as possible. In the meantime, please consider opportunities to support your local community and neighbors.

Here are five ways Hoosiers can help:

Contribute To Your Local Food Bank

Aside from making cash donations, consider reaching out to local food banks to see what can be done to help others in the community. Many organizations rely on retirees to keep their shelves stocked and doors open, but older citizens are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus. Local charities are facing a growing need for both supplies and volunteers. If you are working age and in general good health, consider volunteering for a local food bank. These organizations are more vital than ever, providing not only food, but also household items like cleaning supplies, diapers and personal care products. They have plans in place for preventing the spread of the virus like making to-go boxes of food and coordinating drive through stations. Visit Feeding America’s website to find a food bank near you, and please contact them directly to see what they need and how you can help.

Check In With Neighbors

Consider checking-in with elderly neighbors by phone or via social media. Picking up groceries for others is a great way to help, just be sure to leave the items at a secure location, like a porch, in order to limit contact. Others may need help walking their dogs. In some neighborhoods, children are using their front porches as a safe location to play music, put on skits or host shows. There are many ways to help our neighbors, and perhaps build some new relationships along the way.

Donate Blood

The American Red Cross is reporting severe blood shortages since the pandemic took hold, putting many patients at risk. If you are in good health and not feeling sick, visit RedCross.org/Indiana or call 1-800-RED-CROSS and schedule a blood donation. The organization has safety protocols in place to protect donors, volunteers and workers from potential exposure.

Support Local Businesses

Only essential services remain open to reduce the spread of the coronavirus, but there are ways to help small businesses and their employees. While dining rooms in Indiana are temporarily closed, restaurants and breweries can still offer carryout and delivery options. Check out Visit Indiana’s guide on statewide, low-contact carryout and delivery options, for a list of restaurants offering these services and guidelines to help prevent the spread of the virus. Be sure to check local business websites and social media accounts for specifics on delivery and curbside options, and consider purchasing gift cards and contributing to fundraisers to help.

Sew And Donate Face Masks

According to Indiana hospitals, orders for standard/disposable masks are on long back-orders, due to both demand and supply chain issues. While fabric masks are not to be used in the care of COVID-19 patients, according to the CDC, fabric masks are a crisis response option when other supplies have been exhausted. Fabric masks can also be helpful in other areas of patient care as supplies of personal protective equipment are depleted. Follow these instructions on how to make face masks. Organizations that need masks can also request them through the Deaconess database connecting individuals and companies for this important effort. Physicians in Northwest Indiana started the Masks for NWI Healthcare Workers Facebook group encouraging citizens to sew face masks and donate them.

As we all do our part to combat this public health crisis, it is crucial to remember we’re all in this together. Helping fellow Hoosiers not only provides a much-needed lifeline to those facing difficulties, but it also strengthens communities and forges new connections among neighbors.

For a list of resources and the latest information on what Indiana is doing to address the coronavirus, visit IN.gov/Coronavirus.

Best Practices Amid COVID-19 Concerns

State and local leaders have taken bold and decisive actions to utilize all available resources to help Hoosiers as they adjust to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

As Gov. Eric Holcomb and the Indiana State Department of Health continue to provide updates on the ongoing situation, there are simple precautions everyone should be aware of to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Chief among them is an emphasis on social distancing, or increasing physical space between people to avoid spreading illness, and many are already becoming familiar with this practice by staying home and out of large crowds whenever possible.

Under a recent executive order, all schools will be closed until May 1 and state mandated tests like ILEARN will be canceled for this current academic year. Parents in need of child care services can search the state’s child care finder for locations close to home, work or on a commute route. However, families are reminded that if they or their child show any symptoms of COVID-19, including a fever, cough or shortness of breath, they should stay home and contact their health care provider.

For those experiencing unemployment or financial hardship, the Department of Workforce Development is encouraging Hoosiers to apply for unemployment insurance benefits electronically through a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. Additionally, no residential eviction proceedings or foreclosure actions may be initiated during the public health emergency. Providers of essential utility services such as gas and electric, broadband, telecom, water and wastewater services are also prohibited from discontinuing service to any customer at this time.

These are unprecedented times, the state is working hard to ensure you have all the tools necessary to navigate these challenges. Governor Holcomb, ISDH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will continue to provide updates on this situation as it evolves.

Visit in.gov/coronavirus to stay up-to-date on the coronavirus and to find more resources.

Indiana Responds To Coronavirus

The Indiana State Department of Health recently confirmed the first cases of coronavirus and declared a public health emergency. As the number of COVID-19 cases in Indiana rises, the more important it becomes for Hoosiers to be aware of best practices to prevent the spread of this virus.

Indiana leaders, local health departments, hospitals, ISDH, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working together to identify patients and follow control protocols. By issuing a public health emergency, Indiana is receiving more than $10 million in federal funding to control and stop the spread of coronavirus.

However, there are still actions we can all take individually to protect ourselves from any respiratory illness, including the flu, like:

  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer;
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick;
  • Staying home when you are sick;
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash; and
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

If you are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus, including but not limited to a fever, cough or shortness of breath, contact ISDH immediately for next steps. The state health department call center is staffed 24/7 to provide guidance from the CDC to health care providers and the public. From 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, call 317-233-7125. Calls after 8 p.m. ET should go to 317-233-1325 and will be answered by an on-call epidemiologist.

This is an ongoing situation and is evolving rapidly. ISDH provides live updates as new information becomes available. For more information, Hoosiers can also visit the Indiana State Department of Health online here, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Lead The Fight Against Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is the leading causes of cancer deaths among Americans, with an estimated 147,000 new cases expected in 2020. The American Cancer Society estimates 1 in 22 men and 1 in 24 women will develop colorectal cancer during their lifetime. March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and the Indiana House is leading the way with legislation to help Hoosiers catch the disease earlier.

House Bill 1080, authored by State Rep. Brad Barrett (R-Richmond), would make certain insurance providers cover colorectal cancer screenings starting at the age of 45. Currently, the law requires coverage if a patient is at least 50 years old.

Treatment measures have come a long way for colorectal or colon cancer. According to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, the average survival rate for stage 4 colon cancer is around 30 months. This is up from the 6 to 8 months that was the average 20 years ago.

Barrett, a retired general surgeon, encourages patients to get screenings early to catch critical medical issues like cancer sooner rather than later. The Indiana House unanimously supported the bill, which if it becomes law, will greatly improve outcomes for those diagnosed and potentially save lives.

The Colorectal Cancer Alliance encourages Hoosiers to dress in blue on Friday, March 6 to raise awareness about the disease and to support people impacted. Click here to learn more about free screenings in Indiana and how to qualify.

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