Indiana reports 81 more COVID-19 deaths, 7,344 more cases

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana health officials reported 7,344 new coronavirus infections and 81 additional COVID-19 deaths Thursday as the state continued to see expected increases in new cases and coronavirus-related hospitalizations following a holiday lull.

The newly confirmed deaths — most of which occurred over the last several days, but some dating as far back as October — raised Indiana’s toll to 8,823, including both confirmed and presumed infections, the Indiana State Department of Health said.

The number of Indiana residents known to have had the coronavirus is now up to 546,499.

The state agency also reported that 2,812 Hoosiers were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday. Of those being treated, 593 were in intensive care, the state agency’s daily statistic update said.

Bloomington banning overnight stays in downtown park

BLOOMINGTON — The city of Bloomington is banning homeless people from staying overnight in a downtown park.

A new sign posted at Seminary Park reminds people it’s illegal to stay there overnight and tells them they have until Monday to vacate the space, The Herald Times reported.

The sign lists the phone numbers and addresses of seven local social service agencies that provide free lodging.

Earlier this week, 25 tents were pitched on a hill in the park.

The sign cites an ordinance the city intends to enforce.

“Camping is not allowed at any time in the public right-of-way. ... It is not safe for you. As it continues to get colder, you are in danger of frostbite and other cold-related illness or death,” it said.

On Christmas Eve morning, a 51-year-old homeless man was found dead in the park after sleeping there overnight.

The sign says tents and personal belongings left at the park between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. will be removed and stored for 30 days.

Bloomington’s action follows a similar one in Indianapolis. The capital has given residents who’ve been sleeping in and around Monument Circle until Tuesday to clear personal items from the area. It has posted notices around the circle alerting residents to the deadline.

Sen. Braun dropped Biden objection after Capitol mob

INDIANAPOLIS — Republican Indiana Sen. Mike Braun dropped his objections to Joe Biden’s Electoral College votes after a mob of President Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol building.

Braun said that Wednesday’s violence “changed things drastically.”

Braun had announced over the weekend that he would join about a dozen Republican senators and dozens more House Republicans to challenge the Electoral College votes from some states Biden won in November’s election.

“Though I will continue to push for a thorough investigation into the election irregularities many Hoosiers are concerned with as my objection was intended, I have withdrawn that objection and will vote to get this ugly day behind us,” Braun said in a Twitter statement.

Indiana’s other Republican senator, Todd Young, had announced before the joint session of Congress began Wednesday that he wouldn’t support the objections to Biden’s electoral votes, saying he would “uphold my constitutional duty and certify the will of the states as presented.”

Among Indiana’s House members, Republican Reps. Jim Banks, Jackie Walorski and Jim Baird voted against the Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral votes. Rep. Greg Pence, a brother of Vice President Mike Pence, split his votes, supporting only the Pennsylvania results.

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