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Reopening Indiana's Economy: How And When Do It

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>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Noon Edition on WFIU. I'm Bob Zaltsberg from WFIU WTIU news, along with co-host Sara Wittmeyer, the WFIU WITU news director. We're doing our show remotely today because of the coronavirus pandemic. We're trying to avoid the risk of spreading anymore infection. This week, we're talking with public health business and economic experts about the possibility of easing Indiana's stay at home orders and restrictions. And our guests today are Graham McKeen Assistant Director of Public and Environmental Health for Indiana University, Kevin Brinegar president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Todd Haugh Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics at IU Kelley School of Business. You can join us on this program today by sending your questions to news at and you can also follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition. So welcome to all of our guests. We're really happy to have you here with us today. Looks like the governor is going to be making a big announcement in about two and a half hours. We'll see what that is. But before he does that, I want to ask first Graham McKeen, who we've had on the show before, public and environmental health, public health expert. Graham, are we ready to reduce some of these restrictions? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: Well, of course, our recommendations and public health are a little biased towards public health, of course. And maybe those things don't always align with our realities and economies. And therefore I'd argue currently today and at this moment we are not - we're not seeing that downward trend in cases yet. But at least we're looking at the federal guidance. They're asking for a 14-day decrease and sustained transmission cases. We're not - currently while hospitals are very busy and I'm not going to discount that at all. We've got a lot of heroes working out there. Indiana luckily has not overloaded its critical care capacities, so that is a good thing. The other good thing that is coming is the testing and the contact tracing you're starting to finally see that expand. However, I think those things and the investments Indiana made this week, which were great to get us back to containment, are not in place yet and won't be in place for a couple of weeks. And just moments ago, the state announced today's numbers which were the second highest that we've seen yet today. So we're still going to be in the acceleration phase of this first wave of the pandemic. We're still kind of teetering at the top. You know, hospitalizations are kind of flattening and declining in some areas. But other areas the state and really kind of looks at the district you're in the current situation. But I would say we're just not quite there yet. Whatever we do do is to be very careful and calculated. That's a phased approach. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right, I think the governor has said he wants to be - I think he's said that he wants to do a phased approach of some sort. Kevin Brinegar, what do you hope to hear today? 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: I'm hoping to hear that the governor is going to announce that we will begin relaxing these stay at home order probably not Monday because that doesn't give businesses and people a chance to prepare. But I would guess in a couple of weeks. I know the businesses are ready to get back out. They've been severely hurt financially, but at the same time, you know, we did a survey of that included 1,400 business leaders from around the state. And it's very clear that they're deeply interested and concerned about the safety of their employees and their customers. There are plans being put together as to when they reopen, how to do that safely with social distancing continued, masks, deep cleaning, spacing and maybe even limiting where employees and customers can be and how many employees can be there and customers at a time. But the way to go - this has been a severe impact, but yet they understand that we need to pay attention and listen to public health officials. And we know that that is indeed exactly what Governor Holcomb is doing. I think he's taken a very thorough and very transparent approach to this, but I don't envy the difficult decision that he has to make or that other governors have to make across the country. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So I want to ask Todd Haugh essentially the same question, I mean, from your perspective as an assistant professor of business law and ethics when you see what's going on. You heard Kevin Brinegar just talking about how, you know, individual businesses will do everything in their power to make sure that their employees and their customers are safe. What kind of liability issues do you see? Do you think that we're ready from what you know to open this up a little bit. 

>>TODD HAUGH: Well, I think I would echo what Kevin said a little bit which is I think what he's getting at is there's this very delicate balance that business owners are going to have to have to face. And so they're thinking about everything from their own safety and the family, their own family safety, worker safety, of course, and also all the economic realities that have hit small businesses in particular. And so they have to think about long-term liability issues. So we think about what they could be facing runs the gamut everything certainly on the civil side, lawsuits from workers over safety concerns, potentially suits from consumers depending on the industry and the business. And I've written a little bit about even potential criminal liability for them for not paying attention and not taking care of products and things like that in certain industries. So there's a lot weighing on the minds of business people and it's going to be a difficult spot for sure as they try to balance all these different interests. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Now, Todd, I wonder if you could expand a little bit on that from this perspective. You know, Governor Holcomb yesterday and the other state officials basically said that fear of going back to work is not a good enough reason to continue to get unemployment benefits. Is that sort of a sustainable position when it comes to legal issues or how do you look at that in terms of ethical policy? 

>>TODD HAUGH: Yeah; well, so first of all, I'm not a labor and employment attorney so it's not quite my area of expertise. I can't comment on the ethical side though, of course, that we generally think about the law as being a floor not a ceiling. And so, you know, the fact that a business owner would be facing some sort of legal liability doesn't absolve them of that ethical decision that they have to make relating to all kinds of their other stakeholders. And that's going to include, of course, their employees. What's so difficult about what's going on now, though, is even with employees it cuts both ways because you're thinking about health and safety, which is always what business should be thinking about it for their employees but they're also thinking about livelihood. And so these restrictions as important as they are also of course impact the livelihood of not only the business itself but also the employees. And so it's - there's no perfect ethical framework or lens to manage all this. It's really business owners just have to make sure that they're considering all facets of the issue and not just the economics, for example, or not just, you know, health and safety. It's got to be all of it. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Kevin Brinegar from, the state chambers can you give us a sense of what this is meant for business in the state how much - how bad are the losses? 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Well, let me - if I could address what the law says about your previous question. 


>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Because I think there's some confusion out there the people that are currently have been laid off through no fault of their own, are able to draw unemployment and right now. They're getting a substantial boost in from what they would normally get just from the state of Indiana because of the CARES Act providing an additional $600 a week on top of whatever state unemployment benefit the individual is eligible for which maxes out $390 a week. So almost three times the state amount in total. But what the law says is if you're called back to work and regardless of whether you think it's safe to go back to work and you decline, then you lose your unemployment benefits. And there's been some talk about people making appeals. There is no appeal process on the unemployment compensation side. You can file a complaint. An individual can file a complaint with the Indiana Department of Labor OHAS division, Occupational Health and Safety and Health. And they can investigate whether the workplace is safe or whether there are any violations of current laws and regulations and that can be appealed all the way up to court but that doesn't mean that you get your - even if you win, it doesn't mean you get your unemployment benefits back. So the employee gives you this call back. They must come back or they lose their benefits. Now it is - I agree with the previous speaker - important for the business owner and operator to do everything possible to keep the workplace safe in general and in this case particularly from the the coronavirus. And that's what overwhelmingly employers want to do. They don't want to operate unsafe places. They don't want to have big outbreaks and be in the news like we've seen with the pork processing plant up at (unintelligible). They want to keep their employees and their customers safe because those are their people and they overwhelmingly will do the right thing and, you know, follow what we might consider to be ethical guidelines and do what they can to make the workplace safe before they reopen in the cases of those that have had to shut down because they were a non-essential business. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. Thanks for clarifying that, I appreciate it. So... 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Now, what was the other question? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: ...Yeah, right. So can you talk a little bit a little bit about the overall impact on Indiana businesses? How long is it going to take for the businesses to make this up or to come close to making it up? 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: The short answer is I think quite a long time. I mean, I know economists have talked about whether this was going to be a - the impact was going to be a D-shaped recession with a sharp decline and then a sharp recovery or whether it was more of a U shape. We did a survey of business leaders from across the state during the period of April 20th - or excuse me April 16th to April 22nd. We had 1,400 respondents of business folks from all around the state and one of the questions we asked was how severely impacted has your business been so far by the current crisis? And we had them rank it on the scale of 1 to 10, with one being no impact at all - excuse me - and 10 being, essentially, total devastation, and 53% of the respondents ranked the impact thus far - that was up through April 22nd - as an 8, 9 or 10 and the average score was 7.2. So the impact has been very dramatic. Large percentages of those respondents had had - 80% said financial impact, about a third said that they'd been forced to close because of the nature of their business, a large percentage said they've had to lay people off. We also ask, how long do you - can your business survive financially under these current lockdown circumstances? 23% said less than three months. 37%, which includes that 23%, said less than six months. And about 29% said they didn't know. So it's clear the impact on any other businesses on the whole has been very substantial. Now, that said, I've talked to, you know, a number of businesses in construction and some manufacturing operations that are still operating almost as business as usual and in some cases, if you're making, you know, masks or hand sanitizer or other things, your business is actually up. So it's a bit of a mixed bag, but overwhelmingly it's been quite negative and quite significant. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Kevin, you mentioned the Tyson plant there in Logansport and we just learned that they think there are more - the health department there thinks there's more than 1,000 positive cases associated with Tyson Foods processing plant. But we got a question from someone and the question - and Graham, maybe you would be in the best position to answer this, but the question is why can't meat processors test all their employees, quarantine those who test positive, replace them, open, and then keep testing. 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: What was the end of the question? How come they do not... 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: Let me read the last part again. Why can't they test all employees, quarantine those who test positive, replace them, open, and then keep testing? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: I think that's - I mean, that's definitely a plan and part of the goal. Testing has been very limited, though, and I think that's definitely been part of the problem and just these plants and proximity in which people work by nature lends itself very easily to transmission. So you did see that last week with ISDH. They did send a strike team in to do that testing and that's why we saw, gee, I think it was over 700 confirmed cases in less than 48 hours from that plant. But that is - that would be the goal. What's very challenging with that is you literally would have to test everyone as well because of what we know about asymptomatic transmission, and that's what makes - this virus going to be so incredibly challenging going forward is that we think at least 25 and maybe - you know, maybe half of us that get this virus never show symptoms yet we're infectious. And so with the limited testing capabilities we have now, which are still limited even for symptomatic patients in some cases, it's just not there to do that type of wide-scale testing. And we have supply chain shortages and personnel shortages and lab supply, reagent, swab shortages as well. And so while all these plans are good and a lot of people are maybe looking at basing testing on reopening plans, you know, there's some limitations to that currently. I do think that Indiana did a great job this week with partnering with Optum Serve to expand those testing sites. And, you know, again, it's probably a week or two away to being fully operational along with the contact tracing that they talked about this week. That should be operational about 10 days. So I think Kevin's timeline of maybe a couple of weeks makes some sense to when you could maybe start to do these things if those things are, in fact, in place and able to be managed. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah. So, Graham, could you just... 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: If I might add on the - that's - two things. One, I would echo the very importance and tip of the cap to the governor for arranging this new testing opportunities that'll be available all over the state. That's going to be huge to this overall effort. And then the other - I would add - the other thing I'm personally aware of that contributed to this proliferation in the Logansport area is that many of those workers were refugees and live in sort of communal living situations with a significant number of people in any given household or living arrangement, and that in turn really facilitated the spread of the disease among that community. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So, Graham, if you could just itemize again, what would you be looking for for benchmarks for the state to be able to really start reopening? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: Well, again, looking at the federal guidance - which is pretty general, but it's a good place to start. It talks about - it's the three-phased approach and there's a gating criteria. So that - just to get to that first gate of the first phase, you have to have that defined in cases, you have to not be - you know, result into crisis care, have enough PPE for your hospitals, and be able to tell - test health care workers and those high-risk groups. And so I'd say partially we're there with that in terms of the critical care, but also you don't just want to reopen and then you have a rebound and all of a sudden you're not. And the decline in cases - you know, we're not there right now, but we're also testing more. So the more you test, the more you're going to see. So I think the more important thing to look at is the hospitalization rate as well and the critical care support with that. And then, outside of those things, obviously you just need the ability to trace and contact trace - do case investigations - to do surveillance of the disease so you can get around those things. And so that is a key element of this as well. And then, outside of that, I think you can slowly begin to implement things in a phased approach. But, you know, there's - it's really going to be a lot of a challenge. Not a lot has changed. We know a little bit more about the virus and some of what we know is actually more concerning in terms of the potential for aerosol or airborne transmission in some cases we think - at least short range - the asymptomatic transmission. And, you know, there's still no treatment, there's still no vaccine. And because we've all been inside the last however many days it's been, the seroprevalence - the prevalence of the disease in Indiana is still really low in terms of active cases and those that have had it in terms of antibody testing. And so we're doing some of those studies now to see what that is in Indiana, but I highly guarantee - I don't guarantee, I highly assume that that prevalence is very low - maybe the single digits in this part of the state or the Midwest. So that means that 95% of us are still susceptible to this disease, and so anything we do and all these measures that we're taking - and they're all worth taking - again, are also all imperfect, especially when we talk about the asymptomatic transition, so it has - transmission, so it has to be that very measured, slow approach at least from a public health standpoint to be able to maintain that. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. We're talking about coronavirus, of course, today again on Noon Edition. We have Graham McKeen assistant director of public environmental health for Indiana University. Kevin Brinegar president of the Indiana State Chamber of Commerce, and Todd Haugh assistant professor of business law and ethics at the IU Kelley School of Business. If you want to ask a question or just give your comment, you can send it to Or you can follow us on Noon Edition. You can contact us that way as well. I wanted to ask about some of the protests that have been going on. And I will say, we've gotten - probably in the last couple of weeks, we've gotten maybe 200 different comments or letters or questions to the WFIU newsroom, and many of them are people who are weighing in on wanting to go back to work, wanting to reopen the economy - about an equal number probably don't want to reopen the economy until the health measures look better. But you see protests in places like Michigan - the protest at the state house the other day where people are definitely not social distancing, they're angry with their government. Graham, when might we see whether there's a spike in cases in Michigan after people get together and - to - you know, just to basically make their voices heard like that. 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: The incubation period we think is between 2 and 14 days. The overwhelming average seems to be about five days. So you would maybe look for that kind of time frame, and that's why - you know, that's why we - at least they're looking for this gating criteria is seeing that 14 days of decline to give you at least one incubation cycle to show that the community transmission is going down. I think a lot of people are looking at the case counts there as well as in Georgia with Governor Kemp's reopening to kind of see how that plays out, but generally the average incubation period's about five days. But also I mean that's for one person, and then one person maybe gets two to three other people ill and there's another, you know, five-day incubation period there. So the incubation period's a little bit longer than the flu. So I would look at a couple of weeks at minimum. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So Todd Haugh, can you talk a little bit about the - I guess the legalities of protests like that. Obviously, the First Amendment protects your right to assemble, but when the state has a - has executive orders that call for distancing, how do those things conflict or interact? 

>>TODD HAUGH: Well, that's a great question. I mean, certainly the state has - under the police powers, has the ability to issue orders like that - or the general police powers. It's - can potentially run up against the First Amendment, but - because we obviously all have right to assemble and speak freely in most contexts. You know, I think a different question right now, though, is about the enforcement sort of side of it. And so, yes, you have those laws in place obviously, but the question is how are you going to enforce them? Are you going to enforce that? And so, you know, in these limited circumstances, it seems like there's been a fairly hands-off approach. Whether that will be litigated down the road, I don't know. But right now it seems to be - at least as I've seen so far, it's been pretty small numbers of protests, and those haven't been broken up even though there are these sort of stay at home orders and things like that. I'd expect that's probably going to be the case, but it's hard to tell. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: All right. And I also wanted to follow up - and again, maybe - I'm not sure which one of you can answer this or if any of you can, but the governor, again, yesterday said that different communities, if they want to have stricter regulations then he sets out today, that can be done. The Monroe County commissioners this week extended the emergency in Monroe County until May 15th. Do you know if that has the effect of, essentially, being a stay at home order for Monroe County no matter what the governor does today? Any of you? 

>>TODD HAUGH: To my knowledge that is a separate declaration and I think that's more used to get funds for relief and preparedness and those kind of things. Now, separately, Mayor Hogsett of Indianapolis did extend Marion County's along with Dr. Virginia Caine yesterday to the 15th, and that was explicitly a stay at home order. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: OK. So it would have to be maybe worded a little bit differently. I guess we'll find out about that. There is a news conference later today - or a press availability with the commissioners and the mayor and a lot of other local people that's right before the governor. So we're going to get a lot more news out of this as the afternoon moves along. But - so Graham, again, if we could - you could talk about, you know, how this has played out. You've been on this program three or four times and I think early on people were talking about a couple of weeks, maybe a month. Now it's been more than a month, it's looking like things are going to be going on for quite a long time. You know, from your perspective, as - have things gone pretty much the way you thought they would? Or has this just been hanging on longer than you had expected? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: A little bit of mixed - a little bit of both. I think the first time we got together was the end of January and I was tired of this already, but it was not here yet - at least not to our knowledge. And those things have changed and it is - while it's a quick kind of rise up the slope of these waves, it's going to be a much slower ride down. And I am one that enjoys good news. Trust me, I do like to be happy and provide good news to people. But I, near daily at the university, ruin everybody's day by talking about this. And yesterday - last night, in bed, reading out loud to my partner the CIDRAP. It's from University of Minnesota. It's Michael Osterholm and then Marc Lipsitch from Harvard and some others that have put out a report, and they think that this is likely to go on and be transmitting in our population for the next 18 to 24 months. It's definitely going to be a long game. Now, is it going to be like this this whole time? No, it might be some rolling of effect that you see there. So there's going to be likely waves of this. What those waves look like depends on a number of factors. There's a lot of public health experts - medical experts that think we're going to see a large spike in the winter. So, you know, you might have to see some mix and we have to get really creative in terms of maybe some rolling or a kind of on and off mitigation measures and what are your points to do that. So I think - you know, we're all learning. We're all on Zoom. We're all doing different things and I think some of those things are going to have to extend likely until we reach a point of herd immunity, which, you know - in that document last night, they're saying at least 60 to 70 people would need to be infected to reach some type of impediment of that or a vaccine and, you know, you can't hang your hat on that just yet. So we're seeing some good signs about that and this would be an absolute miracle on a timeline, especially the things that we're seeing from Oxford and some others, and I think we just announced yesterday that some - Catalent here in Bloomington was going to partner with Johnson and Johnson in manufacturing. But this is definitely to be a long game. So, again, if we can get those robust containment measures in place that we need to have in place and then we can - we can manage what we can measure, but we're still pretty going to be six feet apart, we're still going to be in masks probably throughout the duration of this event I would assume. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: So, Graham, since you sort of mentioned the long game - a couple of questions that we've gotten. We've gotten a couple about summer camps - if that is a safe thing for parents to do with their kids. Also a question about summer weddings and is it OK if a woman is asking for her daughter to continue on planning for her wedding in August. What are your thoughts? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: Really hard to say and it's going to be difficult - I would - and again, looking back at that federal guidance so you know if you can get to that gating criteria, which is going to take a couple of weeks, and then to go through - to go through each phases would be - at least you have to meet - another two weeks and still meet that gating criteria of decreased cases. And so that whole period - if you're doing that smoothly with no rebound, no wave, that's six weeks at a minimum. And in the third phase of the federal guidance, I think that's when they kind of - you're able to kind of get back together again. But again, a whole lot - not changes unless we reach herd immunity, unless we reach a breakthrough for a treatment or a vaccine. So I think it's really difficult to say. I think initially we're looking at, you know, groups of 10 or less in a social setting with social distancing. And then maybe, after a few weeks, upping that to 50. Things you can do outside are better. You can space out more. So I think it's really hard to say at this point, but it seems to me like it might be pretty limited. We might have some sort of normalcy here for a month or two in the summer, and then we might see some spikes in cases and it might come back seasonally as well. 

>>TODD HAUGH: Bob, can I jump in for one second? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, sure. 

>>TODD HAUGH: And Graham, I'd be interested to hear your take on this as well. You know, primarily, you've been talking about sort of medical issues, testing, things like that. There's this whole other aspect, which is the behavioral side of this. And so even with all the restrictions, even - and as we think about sort of transitioning out of this, there's this - there's a big question about how is - how people's behavior will change. And so will we be sort of fatigued with these social distancing criteria and they'll start to lapse? How will companies - how will organizations help their employees and their customers actually follow these things in practice? Because everything that I've seen - all the models sort of depend on us continuing these types of practices for quite a while. And so as soon as those start to break down, then that really opens up the chance of spikes in infections and things like that. So I just - it's one thing - it's another thing, unfortunately, to think about, even aside from the legal liability and the medical advances that we're seeing already. 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: I agree. I mean, it's - a lot of it's going to be about behavior science and maintaining healthy behaviors, and that's extremely challenging. You can tell somebody how to do something. You can give them a hand out, but that doesn't really change their behavior. And I think a lot of us are already getting that fatigue. And there's some resources to show that that - I mean, you can look at the images of the beaches of California for one. But also there are - you know, there's some maps out there looking at G.P.S. data and stuff like that. And social distancing was working and we were doing a really good job of that a few weeks ago. But across the nation I think we have like a D right now. In Indiana, it's pretty similar. So that does seem to be trending backwards already. So how do you manage that? How do you enforce that, whether that be on a campus or in a workplace? 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Yeah, I want to ask Kevin to weigh in first and then I'll - I have another question about campus, but Kevin how can - I guess it would be incumbent upon businesses and business leaders to try to enforce that in the workplace. 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Well, yeah. It will absolutely be important for business owners, business leaders to enforce that. And that may mean, you know, putting - blocking off certain areas to, you know, force the distancing, putting tape on the floor, et cetera, you know, requiring masks except maybe when you're in your office by yourself - things of that nature. And those are all the kinds of preparations that businesses both here in Indiana and across the country are thinking through as it pertains to their workspace, whether that be a manufacturing floor or an office setting. And I think the - you know, the word is out that, you know, we're going to be in this and doing these kinds of things for quite some time to come. And a lot of time and energy is being placed - spent right now on preparing for that. And I've talked to a couple members of ours in the last week who are still operating in manufacturing and construction, and they've talked about the changes they've made. They've, you know, moved employees apart - because some of the manufacturing facilities have spread people out and in the process it's reduced their production levels on any given day. They are staggering shifts more, you know, doing things to try to do their best to keep people safe. And it is going to be important that that be enforced. And some employers will do it better than others. I had to take a car in for repairs the other morning and I was surprised that - and I had my mask on and I was staying back away. And I was surprised that the check in stations were - you know, were set up to be almost shoulder to shoulder. And there were still, like, five associates there standing shoulder to shoulder, no masks on. You know, I would've thought that they would have done every other workstation but they didn't. And I thought, well, OK. They're not practicing social distancing. They apparently haven't gotten the message. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Well, Kevin, could you add or could you address the issue of retail outlets? Of course, Simon Malls said that they're hoping to reopen this week. I don't think it's going to happen in Marin County but it could happen in Bloomington and Monroe County at College Mall if, you know, if the governor loosens restrictions as early as Monday. What kind of preparations are you hearing in retail outlets like a Macy's? 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Well, all I know on that is what I've seen in the media. They have backed off. And they are not opening their Marin County malls. But I believe they are.  In Hamilton County, in Johnson County, the Greenwood Park Mall and other locations, there are going to be restrictions on how many people can be in the mall overall and likewise spacing in the stores. And so there are precautionary measures being taken. But it will be up to the store owners and I suppose the people that patrol the mall in general in the common areas to keep people safe. I'm not sure what they're going to do in the restaurants, but I do know just but only from what I read in the media and seen on the news last night that there are indeed precautionary measures being put in place and limitations on how many people can be in the mall or in a particular store. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: You're listening to Noon Edition on WFIU, and we're talking today about the prospects of Indiana reopening at least in part from the restrictions on the stay at home order that Governor Holcomb has put in place. We're talking with Brian McKeen from Indiana University. He is a public health expert. Kevin Brinegar is president of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce. And Todd Haugh is an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Ethics at IU Kelley School of Business. If you want to contact us here in the next 20 minutes or so, you can give us an email, send us an email You can also contact us through Twitter at Noon Edition. So Todd and Graham, you're both here on the Bloomington campus as Robby outlined five different scenarios, possible scenarios for the fall with the kinds of things that we're talking about here. I would say it seems like there would be lots of complications to having students come back in full force this fall, but I want to get your take on it because I know nothing. 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: I think that's an understatement, Bob, being a challenge. I think I saw it recently in a higher ed article. It's like driving through a dense fog right now looking towards the fallen. It's really too hard. It's early to say what that's going to look like - of course, we want to have an in-person presence (unintelligible). And I think Robby said that he thought and I think that makes sense. There are probably some combination of things. But as we know things are going to look very different. So some of our recommendations that we'll have from public health we'll vote or pass along to the administration. And they'll make decisions. And we'll operationalize those. But I mean it'd include things, like, given, you know, single occupancy rooms, you know, just doing pick up drop off or dining or spacing out, dining or doing some of those things up outdoors, anything is on the table in terms of classes. I think that was pretty well described in the document and how we do that and maybe clustering or pods or looking at different lengths of courses, mixtures of online and in-person and those kind of things. And I think, you know, at least initially we're probably still not going to be looking at any in-person events and major gatherings and sporting events at least with spectators. And I think initially we'll also be doing pretty heavy restrictions on travel depending on the situation. But that's - it's going to be an extreme challenge but one that we're planning for. And we're planning for the various scenarios right now. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Todd. Yeah. 

>>TODD HAUGH: The only thing I would add is just, you know, it's hard to see. And I don't have any inside information on this of course but just how how many different scenarios that at the school is looking at. So, you know, the president's message essentially five different scenarios and they're sort of waiting to (unintelligible) I think appropriate kind of risk based analysis and approach here. And the only other point is, of course, this is all complicated because you have a lot of other institutions all across the country but even in the state doing things much differently and potentially much differently. And so there's no real consensus. I know there is a lot of coordination and discussion between school at different levels and through different organizations. But it really is a smorgasbord of how schools are going to handle this. And of course, some of that's appropriate based on size and location. But it would be nice if I think if there were some directives from maybe the federal government or higher up that we're a little bit more straightforward about what was appropriate and how and why. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: Can either one of address public schools talking about how you would higher education, but what about public schools? Are they going to be back in session in the fall? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: I think that's their goal from what I've heard and seen. And I think it'll be pretty similar format that can be extended to that group. But yeah, I think that is the goal at this time, at least. But again, it's just so hard to say. And so that's another thing we're looking at values, just what metrics and data do we need to look at to make the best decisions and when would you maybe reinstate mitigation measure or go back to an online format. So those are all things that we're looking at intensely. 


>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: If you - go ahead. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: You can go ahead, Kevin, and then I'll ask my question. 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: Well, I was going back to the question about higher ed. I think that this event is going to turn higher education in Indiana and across the country on its ear. I think it's going to accelerate a trend and a concern that was already happening about attendance and enrollments. There's a big drop off coming in the next few years of 18 year olds coming out of high school and our colleges both public and private were very concerned about that. Now I think they're going to be dealing with students and parents being wary of going onto a residential campus and feeling safe. And that's going to increase demand, I think, for online courses, which some were already moved in that direction. And my son is in the last semester of finishing up a law degree and an MBA from the Kelley School and McKinney school up at the IPUIA campus. And all his courses for both schools were switched over to online courses literally midstream in the semester. And the professors are learning how to do that if they weren't doing it already. And I know that they're going to continue that through the summer. And we may see a lot of schools that don't go back at least completely to the classroom style delivery of educational services. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: I think that's a good segue into a question I have which we talked to the owner of Showers Inn yesterday and he said a big thing is going to be restoring confidence in customers and letting them know they're safe. So Kevin perhaps you and Todd both could kind of weigh in on that challenge certainly not just with hotels but with restaurants and businesses in general. 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: I'll let him go first. 

>>TODD HAUGH: Yeah thanks. I think that's absolutely right. And again this kind of gets back to my comment about sort of the behavioral aspect of this. What's tied in so closely to that is kind of the psychology of the consumer and the psychology of the worker. And so the battle is not just on the medical front but it's giving people confidence that they're not going to get sick, that they're not going to infect themselves. And then of course that they're not going to take that infection back to those that they love. And so you almost have to have a in some ways kind of an overzealous approach in order I think to instill that confidence. One of the challenges of course is the testing issue. And so if we don't have as many tests as we'd like or even the tests that we have - I'm thinking here about sort of antibody testing for example. Because the prevalence of the infections are so low in the population, even a highly accurate antibody test isn't going to necessarily give you as much confidence as you otherwise might want to know whether you're for example immune, even though there's a lot of questions about how long immunity will last and things like that. So yeah. I think it's an uphill battle. It could be because it's a slower process on the psychology and the behavior than it is even on the medicine and the science which is a longer process in and of itself. 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: I think I agree that the psychology of the consumer is critical to how fast or how slow the economy will rebound and what the interactions are. I saw a piece yesterday that was - said suggesting that there were four key elements to - at least four key elements to making customers feel comfortable coming into a place like a hotel or you know a convention facility. One was easy access to hand sanitizers. One visibility that there was active cleaning going on and for the near term that employees are wearing masks and that there are provisions. And they can see visible separation and lines on the floor for you know waiting lines and things like that for social distancing. I also was on a national call recently. And one of the participant panelists was the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in St. Louis. And he emphasized the importance of testing to be able to identify who has the virus, get them isolated, do the contact tracking. And the analogy he used is he said was kind of a Jaws analogy. He said that the people aren't going to feel comfortable going back into the water until they know either there are no sharks or they at least know where the sharks are. 

>>TODD HAUGH: That's appropriate. Yeah, that sounds good. 

>>SARA WITTMEYER: I think it's appropriate. We got a comment on Twitter and perhaps Kevin this - you can react to this. But the person, just initials - J.B. says no one would be making those not ready to reopen do so before they're ready. They say others should not be punished because some businesses aren't ready. I guess just your reaction, Kevin. 

>>KEVIN BRINEGAR: The widespread variance of opinion - we touched on it earlier in this conversation about the protest and others saying - some saying we should wait until there's a vaccine which, you know, our economy would be completely dead probably by that point. There is widespread opinion along this (unintelligible) and probably as much or more so than any issue you can think about. And the feelings are strong and passionate. And I think this individual is you know reflecting one end of the spectrum. And that's why it's so difficult given that you know we're fighting this invisible enemy for government leaders to make those decisions about when to lift stay-at-home orders and how to - if it's going to be phased in, phase in the return to work situations. And we see that you know it's taking place differently across the country. And maybe that's kind of analogous to the states being the laboratories of experimentation. And we're going to see whether these states that have gone forward did so appropriately or whether they did so too quickly and end up having a second surge. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So we only have about four minutes to go here in the program and you know we're talking in a lot of speculative ways here. In about two hours we're going to know a lot more about what's going on after the governor has his news conference after the mayor and the county commissioners have their news conference. I guess I want to ask Graham to sort of revisit you know no matter what they do, what's your advice to people out there to keep themselves safe? I'm sure it hasn't really changed much over time. But what are people doing that's right and what do people need to do more of? 

>>GRAHAM MCKEEN: And you're right. It hasn't changed much. And I think you know still just looking for - going out for essential things and if that includes work you know that includes work. All those tried and true prevention measures that we've talked about before with hand washing and respiratory hygiene and isolating if you're sick and not going to work if you're sick, all those things still apply. I think getting the flu shot is going to be always important but especially important this fall even more so. And I think some of things maybe that have changed since we last spoke was we're seeing more of this potential for the aerosol or airborne transmission and the high degree of asymptomatic spread. And so that goes back to why I think the masks are very important. And again they're not really to protect you from the virus. It's for you to protect you others because again we could be walking around unknowingly having it. So those things are always going to be there. I think that's somewhat of a new thing and I think we're going to be wearing masks for some time. But lastly you know continue to follow the guidance of public health, of your local health departments, as well as your employers as you do go back into work. Obviously they are very appropriately concerned. And there are a lot of guidance and things that we need to follow and be sure of to just best protect ourselves. Again it's some imperfect measures but they're definitely worth enacting at this time. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: So Todd in the last couple minutes from a business ethics perspective, so you know what do you hope the businesses take into account as they decide that they're going to start to open? 

>>TODD HAUGH: Well it's going to be sort of a - I don't mean this to be a glib answer but I really want them to take all of this into account. And part of that comes from in the business world there really isn't necessarily a sort of accepted you know ethical foundation. And I don't mean that to say that business people aren't ethical. They are. But it's unlike say in the medical profession or even a legal profession where you have this well-established code that people sort of buy into and are indoctrinated into through their education. Business people are thinking about all kinds of things from impacts to the stakeholders to the bottom line and everything in between. And so companies and business owners and leaders should and need to be thinking about deeply about all of these things. And I trust that most of them are. And then you know to Kevin's point this virus this situation is going to lay bare a lot of the contrast and the whole continuum of how people think about doing business. And so it's going to be a challenge. But it's certainly also going to reflect what some of our current and future challenges are. 

>>BOB ZALTSBERG: I would just add one point. I think it's going to be customers that are going to have to decide how they're going to act as well. And we're out of time. I'm going to take that last word. We're out of time. I want to thank our three guests today Graham McKeen, Kevin Brinegar and Todd Haugh for our - my co-host Sara Wittmeyer for producer Bente Bouthier and John Bailey, for engineers Matt Stoneciper and Mike Pashkash, I'm Bob Zaltsberg. Thanks for listening. 

>>UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Noon Edition is a production of WFIU Public Radio. A podcast of this program is available at Production Support for Noon Edition comes from Smithville - fiber internet, streaming TV, home security and automation in southern Indiana. More information at And from the Bloomington Health Foundation partnering with local organizations and citizens to invest in programs that address our community's health needs. Bloomington Health Foundation, improving health and well-being takes a community. More at


(Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Noon Edition airs on Fridays at noon on WFIU.

Gov. Eric Holcomb hasn't announced whether he will begin to lift Indiana's stay-at-home order, which ends May 1 at 11:59 PM.

He extended the initial executive order two weeks ago, and eased hospital restrictions to perform elective surgeries, allowing them to recommence May 1. The order also allows dentists to start seeing patients for nonemergency appointments.

IU Health will begin performing limited elective procedures May 4.

He told reporters when he extended the order, he would also begin speaking with Indiana organizations and businesses about the best way to begin reopening the economy.

Different businesses have since then released plans intending to recommence operations at some level starting next week, though no information about whether the ban will be lifted has been released.

This week on Thursday, the health department reported that the state's COVID-19 deaths has reached 1,000.

Gov. Holcomb says that he'll detail the future of the "Stay-At-Home" order Friday and may give safety guidelines to allow some businesses to reopen. But workplaces will likely need to operate differently to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

This week on Noon Edition, were talking about the possibility of Indiana taking steps to reopen the economy-and how and when it should be done.

You can follow us on Twitter @NoonEdition or join us on the air by calling in at 812-855-0811 or toll-free at 1-877-285-9348. You can also send us questions for the show at

Note-This week of our guests and hosts will participate remotely to avoid risk of spreading infection. Because of this we will not be able to take callers live on-air.

Our Guests

Graham McKeen, assistant director of public and environmental health for Indiana University

Kevin Brinegar, President, Indiana Chamber of Commerce

Todd Haugh, assistant professor of business law and ethics at the IU Kelley School of Business

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here.

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