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May 25 - May 31 Week in Review

Updated: Jun 19, 2020

There has been a change in the number of positive COVID-19 cases and deaths in the City of Gary. According to a release from Mayor Jerome Prince, the updated number of positive cases are now at 628 and the number of COVID-19 related deaths are at 47. The City had reported 16 deaths throughout the month of May.

The release stated the increase in numbers are due to a previous reporting system that underreported the numbers. The city’s new reporting system will be able to give more accurate findings sooner.

There was a slight uptick in the cases of COVID-19 in the city of East Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend. The East Chicago Health Department is recording 10 deaths. Hammond has 16 deaths as reported by the Lake County Health Department.

Another challenge to Northwest Indiana is the re-opening of Indiana’s economy before that of the State of Illinois. The arrival of warm weather with open beaches in Indiana contributed to massive crowds from Chicago at Gary and Northwest Indiana beaches this past weekend. This will increase exposure to the COVID-19 virus in our area, said the Mayor.

According to officials, a mental health counselor at the Lake County jail has died from the coronavirus. Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez said the counselor called off sick after experiencing flu-like symptoms a few weeks ago. The counselor tested positive for covid-19 after becoming hospitalized and died at 1:30 am on Thursday, May 28.

Just a week after the Lake County Fair cancelled their August event, LaPorte and Porter County have cancelled their events scheduled for July. The fairs were cancelled over concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.

The organizers said that they did not want to risk the health of workers, volunteers, and attendees. The safety precautions that would have to be imposed would have made it extremely difficult to manage.

Marty Good, president of The Porter County Agricultural Society, “Knowing how easily the virus spreads in large groups, they believe it is the safest path forward for the health and safety of all concerned,"

The hospitality industry in Northwest Indiana is taking another hit due to the COVID-19 virus. Boyd Gaming, the operators of Blue Chip Casino Hotel and Spa in Michigan City, said it will permanently layoff 25 to 60 percent of its employees.

The new layoffs include employees that were not initially furloughed in March. The layoffs will take effect between July 1 and July 14. It's not yet known exactly how extensive they will be. Indiana casinos were scheduled to be reopened by June 14.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the mail-in ballot option is open to all voters. On record, 88% of mail-in and early voters in Lake County have requested the democratic ballot.

Under the state law, mail-in ballots must be returned to the county elections office by noon on election day to be counted in the final tally. As a reminder, in-person early voting for the primary election also is available until June 1, and traditional polling locations will be open from 6AM to 6PM on Tuesday, June 2.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission plans to review a request from Nipsco and other investor- owned gas and electric utilities, to let them recoup revenue lost during the pandemic from customers. The commission is seeking information on disconnections, utility fees, customer payment arrangements and regulatory accounting.

Consumers can mail letters to the Indiana Utilities Regulatory Commission in Indianapolis or you can also find to the commission email and address on the daily 219 dot com webpage.

The commission also plans to issue an order before June 30.

Wiley Luther Cuttino will become the first African American to serve as Merrillville's chief of police when he is sworn in on Monday, June 1st. The Town Council unanimously selected Cuttino to succeed Police Chief Joseph PET-truck (Petruch), who is retiring at the end of June.

Cuttino joined the Merrillville Police Department in 1994, and he was the first African American officer to serve on the force according to previous Northwest Indiana Times reporting.

Indiana University Northwest and Purdue University Northwest are offering prospective students free applications until August first. IUN normally charges $35 for applications. IUN also waived the SAT and ACT testing requirements for admission due to Covid-19. Purdue University Northwest on the other hand, will be offering optional policies for those required tests during the fall 2020 and 2021 admission.

Until August 14th Census takers will interview homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census. If someone visits your home stating they are from the Census ask for a valid ID badge with their picture. The ID will have a U.S Department of Commerce Watermark as well as expiration date.