Indiana officials won’t detail nursing home virus outbreaks

Indiana officials refused Tuesday to identify nursing homes around the state where coronavirus outbreaks have occurred, even as they disclosed that at least 43 more deaths linked to those facilities have happened in the past week.

The 162 deaths from 74 facilities that the state health commissioner said had occurred represent nearly 26% of Indiana’s 630 COVID-19 fatalities recorded through Monday.

Almost 70% of Indiana’s deaths have been among people 70 and older as elderly people and those with serious health troubles living in nursing homes are among the most at-risk from COVID-19 infections.

Officials had earlier this month identified some nursing homes with multiple deaths, including an Anderson facility where at least 22 patients have died, a figure the state revised downward from earlier reports of 24 COVID-19 deaths.

But the health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, has declined in recent days to provide more than statewide totals of infections and deaths even as some states have started to release more detailed information. Box said new federal regulations require nursing homes to notify families about infections and deaths among residents and would investigate complaints about facilities that don’t comply.

“That’s where we’re going to leave that at this point,” Box said.

Testing has confirmed 1,568 COVID-19 infections at 199 facilities around the state, Box said. That’s up from 1,193 cases at 152 sites in state statistics provided last Wednesday.

Restaurant losses

A new survey estimates that 200,000 people, or about 83%, of Indiana’s restaurant employees have lost their jobs since coronavirus restrictions were imposed last month.

The survey from the National Restaurant Association released Tuesday found Indiana restaurants reporting an average 77% drop in revenue as only carryout and drive-thru service is allowed under the statewide stay-at-home order that prohibits in-person dining. That amounts to a projected $920 million revenue loss for the month of April.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said restaurants should prepare for new requirements such as added space between tables when in-person dining is allowed again.

Some business restrictions could be lifted beginning in May, but Holcomb said Tuesday regulations could vary by region around the state depending on COVID-19 infection levels.

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