In a country where #NotDying4WallStreet is trending on Twitter and elsewhere, Indiana has issued a stay-at-home order, with only employees in “essential businesses and operations” allowed to travel for work. Anyone else can travel for exercise and necessities. As of March 26, at least 21 other states have ordered residents to stay at home, in addition to 64 counties and 16 cities nationwide, comprising nearly two-thirds of the U.S. population. Those numbers are likely to grow.
While Bloomington and Monroe County officials have taken measures to help during the crisis, other organizations and individuals have done what we’ve come to expect — figuring out ways to help others. Even nonprofits — many of which are suffering, financially and otherwise, due to the crisis — are shifting and offering services they don’t normally offer, just to help their neighbors and members of the community.
Limestone Post has assembled these local, state, and national resources for people needing help, wanting to help, or just looking for information during the pandemic. The list is by no means comprehensive, but it will be updated. If you have updates, comments, corrections, or more resources, you can email us.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has up-to-date information on COVID-19, such as detecting symptoms, preparing yourself and your family, and finding resources for childcare, businesses, and travel.
Visit the website for the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH), in.gov/coronavirus, for regular updates and a Resource Guide, which includes information on the following services: Unemployment Benefits, Child Care Assistance, and Housing.
Parents: ISDH also has a COVID-19 Guide for Parents.
SNAP, TANF, Medicaid: Applications can be submitted online for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), or health coverage (Medicaid) at the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration. Many support agencies could be overwhelmed with requests, such as for unemployment benefits, but officials say to keep trying.
WIC: The Monroe County Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program can be reached at (812) 353-3221.
2-1-1: A free and confidential service, 2-1-1 (or 866-211-9966) connects people with navigators who will help find local resources — from food and clothing to mental health and addiction services to housing and utility services.
Food and Medical Care: You can search for free or reduced-cost needs and services such as food and medical care at Helping Bloomington Monroe. Local food banks are especially strained during this time, so you might consider donating to Hoosier Hills Food Bank and Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard. Here is a Google doc of additional resources on food insecurity from the Monroe County Area Mutual Aid for COVID-19 (read more about this Facebook group below).
In Ellettsville, Girl Scouts Troop 69270 has a permanent food bank, called Pantry 279, at 501 E. Temperance Drive. Recently, the pantry received fruits, vegetables, and other food from local restaurants and individuals. You can donate, arrange to pick up food, or get more information by calling 812-606-1524. For up-to-date information, including hours of operation, visit the Pantry 279 Facebook page.
Nonprofits: The City of Bloomington Volunteer Network has a Community Wishlist for nonprofits, including “COVID-19 Immediate Needs.” Donors can submit an offer and nonprofits can submit a wishlist here.
COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund: United Way of Monroe County and nearly 30 local organizations launched the COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund for Monroe, Owen, and Greene counties to support critical human service needs during the pandemic.
Monroe County Area Mutual Aid for COVID-19: The stated goal of this Facebook group is “to foster a network of collective solidarity that allows us to care for the most sick and vulnerable people in our community, and find strength together in order to push back against the broader social narrative of individualistic self-reliance and preparedness.” Administrators and members also share advice and information, such as Google docs of Resources for Undocumented Communities and Fabric Mask Distribution Needs. (Click here to learn how you can help with the Bloomington Face Mask Drive.)
Donate Blood: Blood is in short supply, and the American Red Cross is urging healthy donors to make an appointment. You can search its website to find the nearest blood drive facility.
Daily Media Updates: Local media such as WFHB Community Radio and WFIU Public Radio have regular updates, The Herald-Times has online COVID-19 News and Updates with no subscription required, and Dave Askins of the B Square Beacon covers responses to the crisis by state and local governments.
Mental Health Guide: An article by Rehab4Addiction includes information about guarding your mental health during the pandemic.
Restaurant Guide: Visit Bloomington has a list of restaurants offering delivery, takeout, or curbside pick up, and the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association has a similar guide for restaurants statewide.
The Great American Takeout Bingo: Graphic designer Kaye Lee Johnston created restaurant Bingo cards called “The Great American Takeout,” listing local restaurants that offer takeout service. As Johnston wrote on her Facebook page, “I’ve created a few fun little BINGO cards for eating local. Please share widely so we can all do our part to support local business during this extremely trying time.” Some restaurants are listed more than once because, Johnston says, they are places “that are going above and beyond.” The prize for getting a winning Bingo card is, of course, helping to keep our local restaurants in business. (You can download the cards at the end of this article.)
Indiana Music Relief Fund: MidWay Music Speaks hosts this relief fund “for women-identifying and non-binary musicians, music industry professionals, non-profit music organizations, based in the state of Indiana that are affected by loss of work, cancellations, and loss of revenue due to COVID-19.” You can donate here or apply for assistance here.
Outdoor Recreation: Health and government officials recommend staying active, if possible, by walking outside, especially on greenways and trails. But, they advise, keep at least 6 feet away from other people.
- City parks and trails remain open, but all city park playgrounds are closed until further notice.
- According to Monroe County Parks and Recreation, the Limestone Greenway and Karst Farm Greenway are open for public use, but the following parks and facilities are closed until further notice: Karst Farm Park, Karst Athletic Complex, Karst Dog Park, Flatwoods Park, Flatwoods Drone Zone, Jackson Creek Park, Will Detmer Park, & Detmer Gardens.
- The Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has a list of which DNR properties are open and which are closed. The list will likely change, but as of right now, all “state parks, state forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves and state recreation areas” remain open, and entrance fees have been temporarily suspended. Campgrounds are open, but advance reservations are required. All park offices, welcome centers, playgrounds, cabins, camper cabins, fire towers, and other facilities are closed.
- The private trails on Sycamore Land Trust’s properties are open.
- Many of the murals along the Bloomington Mural Trail are visible by car, as well.
- WonderLab is closed to the public through May 1, but it is offering recurring programs virtually: Programs will broadcast twice daily via Zoom Live from Tuesday through Saturday at 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on Sunday from 3 to 4 p.m. Programs include Science Story Time, Science Sprouts, Discovery Time, Science Explorations, Dive Deeper, and STEM Sunday. Go to WonderLab.org or its Facebook events page for a schedule and links to Zoom Live.
- Cardinal Stage has canceled its remaining productions for the season and its biggest fundraiser of the year. But they have created an emergency fundraiser, called Quarantine Cabaret, scheduled for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon, when “a new Cardinal Stage star performs a special number or activity from their place of ‘quarantine.’” To donate, text “Cardinal” to phone number 56651 or visit cardinalstage.org.
- The Cook Music Library at the IU Jacobs School of Music has many online video and audio performances available for viewing. Watch such events as these:
- 10th Annual Indiana International Guitar Festival, Final Round (2019)
- Joshua Bell, violin & leader, Faculty/student recital (2017)
- Don Giovanni: music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte (2012)
- Carmen: opéra comique in four acts, music by Georges Bizet, libretto by Henri Meilhac and Lucovic [that is, Ludovic] Halévy, based on the novel by Prosper Mérimée (2016)
Virtual tours: Feel like getting away? Like, really far away? Lonely Planet has compiled virtual tours of such places and events as the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu, The Louvre and Smithsonian museums, Broadway performances, national parks, safaris, and even a virtual tour of Mars.
Emergency Relief from the U.S. Government
The Washington Post has a (no paywall) calculator to see how much you will likely receive in the direct payment part of the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency relief package, which is being finalized by Congress.
Here’s what the entire package is expected to include, according to Axios:
- Direct payments: The bill would distribute up to $1,200 to Americans in the form of a one-time direct deposit, $2,400 for couples, and $3,000 for family of four. The payments will be phased out based on income levels.
- Small businesses will get $367 billion to keep making payroll while workers have to stay home. “Companies with 500 or fewer employees could tap up to $10 million each in forgivable small business loans to keep paychecks flowing,” the AP notes.
- Federally guaranteed loans will provide eight weeks of assistance for qualifying employers who maintain payroll. Those who meet requirements would have costs such as utilities, mortgage interest and rent forgiven.
- Unemployment benefits: $600 per week would be added to normal state benefits for up to four months with an extra 13 weeks of benefits — adding up to 39 weeks of regular unemployment insurance “through the end of 2020.” The coverage would be effective Jan. 27. The deal extends to gig economy workers, Axios’ Kia Kokalitcheva notes.
- Health care and social services: $242 billion would be set aside “in additional emergency appropriations to fight the virus and shore up for safety net programs,” per the AP. It’ll fund public health providers including hospitals, the CDC, child nutrition programs, food stamps and transportation agencies.
- Industry: The final number for big businesses like airlines is still up in the air, but Republicans are seeking $500 billion in loans. Provisions against potential employer abuses are also still subject to negotiations.
- Payroll taxes: The measure enables individuals to defer payment of their 2020 payroll taxes until 2021 and 2022.
- States and local governments will get $150 billion, with $8 billion set aside for tribal governments.
Back to our communities. We hear that some local neighborhoods are doing things to boost morale or creating interesting activities for kids, such as putting rainbows on the front doors of houses or stuffed bears in windows. Let us know if your neighborhood has any activities like this. You can email us or visit Limestone Post’s Facebook page.
Be safe, Hoosiers!
[Publisher’s note: Limestone Post is using our ad space to offer free Community Notices to local nonprofits. Space is limited, but if you would like more information, email us at [email protected]. We cannot create the notices, but we will send you the specs and can offer suggestions.]
Bloomington-based graphic designer Kaye Lee Johnston says she created these restaurant Bingo cards “to support local business during this extremely trying time.” Each of the restaurants listed offers takeout service. Some restaurants are listed more than once because, Johnston says, they are places “that are going above and beyond.” To download a PDF, click Bingo Card #1, Bingo Card #2, or Bingo Card #3.