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June 14 - June 21 News Review

These are some of the stories we featured throughout the week:

Nine states, including Indiana, are seeing steady numbers of newly reported cases. The state of Indiana reported 440 new positive cases between May 8 and June 15. There were 14 new deaths between May 20 and June 15.

Lake County Indiana has seen 45 new cases but no new deaths.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has finally provided a more detailed look of which long-term care facilities in Northwest Indiana have been hit by the pandemic, since Indiana has refused for months to identify which ones have had outbreaks. Those facilities that have reported since May 31 are

· Sebo’s Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Hobart, 15 COVID-19 deaths

· Aperion Care Demotte and Miller’s Merry Manor in Portage, 10 each

· Munster Med-Inn, and Merrillville’s Lincolnshire Health & Rehabilitation Center, four each

· Crown Point Christian Village in Winfield, and Aperion Care Tolleston Park in Gary, three each

· Symphony Care in Chesterton, Aperion Care Arbors Michigan City, and Hammond-Whiting Care Center, one each.

Of 40 local nursing homes listed for May 31, eight provided no information, including Dyer Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 601 Sheffield Ave., which multiple sources said last month had at least eight deaths and 85 cases. The federal government also is not requiring facilities to report data before May 6,

Indiana has joined a growing list of states allowing casinos to reopen.

Northwest Indiana’s five casinos and the two Four Winds casinos in Indiana and Michigan will open today.

This first phase of re opening will require casinos to have fewer slot machines and limited table games. At most casinos, features including poker, buffets, coat checks, and valet service won’t be available during this first phase. And because of the limited services, not all employees will be returning to work.

Safety is a top priority at all the casinos. Several of them will require players to wear masks at all times, while others will require players to only wear them at table games. Other precautions for casinos include sanitizing stations, temperature checks, floor decals and signage to indicate social distancing guidelines.

Mayor Jerome Prince of Gary held a press conference on June 15th to address what he says are ongoing innuendo and vicious rumors concerning Fire Chief Sean O’Donnell’s management of the Gary Fire Department. O’Donnell, who is white, was accused by some in and out of the department of playing favoritism based on race.

O’Donnell said he has been a Gary Fire fighter for 22 years and has never been accused or investigated of any wrongdoing. The Chief said the issues arose after he insisted that a Gary firefighter wear appropriate fire department attire.

Prince said he chose O’Donnell based on his experience, willingness to protect the citizens of Gary and the content of his character. He stressed that he stands by O’Donnell and his administrative team.

Inside Indiana Business magazine reports Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago has announced plans to reduce its workforce. In a notice to the state, the casino says 127 team members will be permanently laid off beginning in mid-September.

While the company says the layoff will be permanent, Ameristar expects the facility to remain open.

Ameristar says the layoffs are the result of COVID-19-related business circumstances.

Midwest for Broadway Lofts LLC, appeared before the Gary Common Council June 16 via Zoom to request property at 7th and Broadway become an economic revitalization area. The company wants to request a tax abatement for a proposed $11.6 million Broadway Lofts housing and retail development on the corner,

The Post-Tribune reports the declaration creating the revitalization area contained a change in the parcel description that was identified after the plan commission reviewed the proposal and placed it for consideration.

Councilman Ronald Brewer said he was not prepared to vote on establishing the revitalization area until the correction was made in writing. Councilman Clorius Lay agreed and the declaration was sent back to the Plan Commission.

The development will include 38 loft-style apartments, 4,000 square feet of retail space and 2,000 square feet of community space. Two tenants already have been secured for the retail space. Women, Infants and Children will be one tenant and a workforce training center will take up the remainder of the space. The offices will provide services to residents of the building and the city at large.

The project also will include a $250,000 greenhouse that will be operated by Faith Farms, which currently operates an urban farm in the city.

Mayor Jerome Prince of Gary released his executive order establishing a commission on The Review of Police Use of Force.

The order said the focus is on ensuring that Gary is a safe, welcoming, and inclusive City with thriving neighborhoods, communities, businesses, and residents who are equipped for success and proud of their City.

The Mayor announced that he would establish the commission last week during a press conference. The City will convene an advisory commission consisting of community members and partners, both existing and potential, to make recommendations for any operational or legislative changes to the City of Gary’s use-of-force policies and procedures.