Indiana tops 700 virus deaths, 500,000 job losses

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s coronavirus death toll has topped 700 people in about five weeks with 45 additional fatalities announced Thursday by state health officials.

More than half of the newly recorded COVID-19 deaths occurred Tuesday or Wednesday, but they dated as far back as April 6, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.

Indiana’s death count of 706 could jump by several dozen on Friday as state officials plan to start including deaths that doctors blame on COVID-19 without confirmation of the illness from test results.

The state health commissioner said Wednesday that Indiana coronavirus infections have been traced back to mid-February, at least a couple weeks before the first illness for a resident was confirmed on March 6. The state’s first recorded coronavirus-related death occurred March 15.

More than half a million people in Indiana have applied for unemployment benefits over the past five weeks as job losses mount across the country under the ongoing coronavirus outbreak business restrictions, federal officials said Thursday.

Indiana had about 75,000 new jobless claims filed last week. While that’s down from the more than 110,000 claims filed each of the three previous weeks, the state was typically receiving fewer than 3,000 new claims a week before widespread business shutdowns started in mid-March.

Indiana has totaled about 515,000 jobless claims in the five-week period.

Roughly 26 million people, or about one in six American workers, have now filed for jobless aid over the five weeks. Economists have forecast that the national unemployment rate for April could go as high as 20% after by far the worst string of layoffs on record.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has said he’s considering easing next week the business and travel restrictions in place under the statewide stay-at-home order that took effect March 25. Those modifications could vary across Indiana, and major changes will be done in collaboration with neighboring states, Holcomb said.


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