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Weekend Update May 31 - June 6

Gary Health Commissioner Roland Walker is highlighted in an article in the June 3rd Washington Post regarding the lack of timely response to COVID-19 in minority communities across the country. The article states that officials in Gary struggled for weeks to persuade the state health department to set up a testing site in Gary. The city finally got a state mobile testing site April 13, days after Indiana health officials revealed African Americans accounted for 20 percent of the State’s coronavirus-related deaths even though they were only 10 percent of the population.

But after two weeks of testing, the state’s mobile site left for another city. While pools and summer camps are opening across the state, Gary has barely relaxed social distancing guidelines because the rate of infection remains too high.

In an article in the Northwest Indiana Times, Walker said some of the biggest hotspots continue to be nursing homes and long-term care facilities.

“One of the areas that was particularly alarming in Gary was the 46404 zip code. Walker said that area includes both its biggest nursing home and is one of its most populated ZIP codes.

Dr. Dan Rusyniak is chief medical officer at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration said every Indiana nursing home employee will be tested for COVID-19 this month. The state will also provide additional protection to nursing home residents and to better understand the spread of the coronavirus.

The Gary Health Department has provided city nursing homes with additional shipments of personalized protective equipment, plus requires them to give the health department daily updates, Walker said.


Based on media reports, Indiana’s total number of COVID-19 cases have risen to over 34,000. The total number of deaths has reached over 2000. 2,118 patients are recovered. The number of known coronavirus cases in the United States continues to rise, also.

Cases of COVID-19 are still increasing in Northwest Indiana although not at the rapid pace it was a few months ago.

New cases of COVID-19 were reported in East Chicago and Hammond. Gary is expecting to see higher numbers because of increased testing. Health professionals are still suggesting that people wear face masks and continue to social distance.

There were other protests in the region this week in response to the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis. The City of Gary had a protest at Gateway Park where faith leaders from throughout the city spoke. The gathering was organized by Faith Leaders and Community Partnerships. Mayor Jerome Prince of Gary held a press conference in City Hall regarding the protests where Police Chief Richard Ligon also spoke.

In Portage, about 200 people were on hand for the start of a rally, including a number of clergy members. Both protests were peaceful. Hammond declared an emergency curfew on Saturday until June 1 after protests turned unruly.

Former Indiana University football player Chris Beaty was shot and killed on the street in downtown Indianapolis on Saturday night during one of the protests that turned violent.Beaty was a community activist and businessman in the city.

Protests continued in Indianapolis on Monday for the fourth straight day. The demonstrations began at Monument Circle Monday evening. Indianapolis police reports cases of vandalism in the city over the last four days.

A Chesterton Town Councilperson has resigned over comments he made Saturday about protesters in Hammond. Robert Allison said on Facebook that a plow truck driver should “straight blade” protesters.

Allison made the comment to a friend who was blocked on his way to work in East Chicago. The friend who was in an SUV he uses to plow snow in the winter, asked Allison as he was sitting in the standstill, should he use a 'straight blade or curved?' Allison’s response was 'straight.'

His fellow council members called for his resignation after the posting. Allison has since apologized for his remarks.

The Times of Northwest Indiana reports ArcelorMittal notified the United Steelworkers union that it plans to lay off employees at its Indiana Harbor steel mill in East Chicago. The publication says the steelmaker is idling the #3 and #4 blast furnaces at that facility. ArcelorMittal employs about 10,000 people in the region. This is attributed to the lack of demand for steel in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The outbreak has forced automakers to shut down production thereby impacting steel demand.

From Crains Chicago Business...

In downtown Gary, there are long-standing scars, including blocks that have stood empty since a 1997 arson and the empty lots where derelict buildings used to stand. But now, two “high-quality developments on Broadway will provide the audacity to hope for better things for the city of Gary,” says Eric Reaves, Gary’s director of economic development and community investment.

One is a new city hall and city services building, slated for the former site of a derelict hotel building. Reaves says an announcement will come later this summer but that the aim is for that structure to achieve the highest rating of LEED, the U.S. Green Building Council’s set of principles for sustainable building. READ MORE