Photos: Trumpets of the Marching Hundred

Starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday in front of the Sample Gates on the east end of Kirkwood Avenue, Garrett Rogers led the trumpet section of Indiana University’s Marching Hundred through some football game standards, like “Indiana, Our Indiana” and “The William Tell Overture,” among others. [audio of “Indiana, Our Indiana”]

IU’s football game against the University of Minnesota Gophers is set to kick off at 3:30 p.m.

More photos after the jump.
Continue reading “Photos: Trumpets of the Marching Hundred”

Bloomington’s 2020 census count: Plot (of dots) thickens for IU enrollments, dormitories

Ten days ago, when the news broke that Bloomington’s 2020 Census count had dropped, compared to the 2010 numbers, many residents reacted with disbelief.

The leading theory for the 1.5-percent drop, from 80,405 to 79,168, is based on the fact that Bloomington is home to Indiana University’s flagship campus.

The city experienced a pandemic-related mass exodus of students right around the time the census count was taking place, in late March and April. The university delivered remote-only instruction for the rest of the spring semester.

Thousands of students were undercounted in the 2020 Census, goes the theory, which would explain why the vintage 2019 estimates by the US Census Bureau put the population of Bloomington at 86,630, or about 7,000 more than the actual count done in 2020.

A theory based on student undercount is consistent with The B Square’s coarse-grained look at the precinct-by-precinct geographic distribution of population losses.

If students were undercounted, then that should be reflected in losses in on-campus and near-campus neighborhoods where many students live. The geographic distribution does show diminished numbers in areas on and near campus.

A different theory of that geographic distribution does not rely on the idea of a student undercount: If there were fewer students actually living in those campus areas, fewer students would be counted there.

That’s a theory that looks like it could have some support from two possible perspectives.

Continue reading “Bloomington’s 2020 census count: Plot (of dots) thickens for IU enrollments, dormitories”

Monroe County OKs mask mandate for fully vaccinated starting Aug. 5, Indiana University also says “mask up”

Face coverings will now be required in public indoor settings, even for Monroe County residents who are fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus.

That’s the basic point of a new health order approved unanimously by Monroe County’s three commissioners at their regular meeting on Wednesday morning.

The order approved by commissioners is effective at 8 a.m. Thursday (Aug. 5) and extends through Sept. 30. [Monroe County health department news release]

The Monroe County health order comes after last week’s new guidance on mask-wearing for the fully vaccinated from the Centers for Disease Control. The guidance applies to counties where there is “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus. That’s a criterion that currently applies to Monroe County.

Not under the county’s jurisdiction, but also following the CDC’s new guidance on masks, is Indiana University.

IU’s public health officer, Aaron Carroll, stated during a noon video conference that the university would also be telling people to mask up in public spaces “for the near future.” Continue reading “Monroe County OKs mask mandate for fully vaccinated starting Aug. 5, Indiana University also says “mask up””

Recent Bloomington employee death a reminder of dire effects of pandemic disease, even as indicators trend better

A push for people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 was again a main talking point at Friday’s weekly press conference of local leaders on pandemic response.

Among the local sites for free vaccine distribution is Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at Indiana University.

The message for people to take advantage of the free vaccine got some extra urgency from Bloomington mayor John Hamilton, who confirmed an earlier press release that announced the death of a city employee due to COVID-19.

On the employee’s death, Hamilton said, “That reminds us that this disease is still very much among us, and can be dire, and can bring terrible consequences.” Hamilton added, “I just want to express our sympathy and condolences to family members.” Continue reading “Recent Bloomington employee death a reminder of dire effects of pandemic disease, even as indicators trend better”

Bloomington utilities board welcomes familiar face, gets quick update on rate case

At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s seven-member utilities service board (USB) welcomed Kirk White, who was appointed by mayor John Hamilton to fill Jason Banach’s seat.

The board also got a brief update on the city’s proposal to increase Bloomington’s water rates, which is currently under the standard review process by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).

City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) director Vic Kelson told the board about the IURC rate case review: “We’re still in the midst of discovery, and we’ve been getting a lot of questions and data requests to handle.”

Kelson added, “So we’ve been hard at work on those for the last couple of weeks. And so far, it seems to be going pretty well.” Continue reading “Bloomington utilities board welcomes familiar face, gets quick update on rate case”

Bloomington Transit mulls ending pandemic-based fare-free rides

At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Bloomington Transit (BT) board, the continuation of COVID-19 protocols, including fare-free, rear-door boarding for all bus passengers, was confirmed for another month.

It could be the last time the board votes to approve the protocols, without a date for resumption of regular service.

Board members are looking towards a resumption of regular operations by the fall. That’s when Indiana University has announced in-person classes will resume.

About 70 percent of BT’s normal, non-pandemic ridership comes from IU affiliates—students, staff and faculty. They don’t pay a fare when they board, because their rides are covered under an agreement between IU and BT.

The BT board’s next monthly meeting, in April, will include an agenda item to consider the formal question of resuming fare collection, effective as early as June 1.

The board’s decision not to collect fares—made early in the pandemic—was based on the goal of limiting the opportunity for driver-passenger COVID-19 disease spread, by allowing passengers to board through the bus rear doors. Fare boxes are located next to the driver’s seat at the front door of the buses.

On Tuesday, BT general manager Lew May reported to the board that the drivers union recommends resumption of fare collection as soon as possible.

About the union’s recommendation, May said, “They have noticed over the past year, a marked increase in the homeless population that has been using the bus as a place of refuge. And, and in some cases, they have caused some difficulty for us.”

How will the resumption of public bus fare collection affect the population of people who are experiencing homelessness, and organizations who serve them?

According to Beacon, Inc. executive director Forrest Gilmore, during non-pandemic times, the nonprofit spends about $500 a month on 50-percent discounted bus fares for its clients. That translates into 1,000 rides a month. That’s an expense that Beacon, Inc. has been able to save during the pandemic.

Back-and-forth between May and board members drew out some of the different motivations for resumption of front-door passenger boarding and fare collection. Continue reading “Bloomington Transit mulls ending pandemic-based fare-free rides”

Monroe County adds 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases

The Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard for Friday (Sept. 11) shows 235 new confirmed positive cases for Monroe County. That’s three times the previous daily high of 83 on Sept. 4.

According to notes on the dashboard, the confirmed positive numbers reflect when the ISDH receives and confirms the report of a test as positive, not when the specimen for the test was drawn. Positivity rates are computed based on when the specimen was drawn.

Based on Friday’s dashboard, which shows large numbers of new tests that are dated several days earlier, it looks like some of the 235 new positive cases might have had their specimens drawn several days in the past.

Indiana University officials have said they are reporting all their data to the state.

[This article has been updated, with added information appended below]. Continue reading “Monroe County adds 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases”

Monroe County confirmed COVID-19 numbers jump, driven by younger cases

The last two days of confirmed positive COVID-19 cases in Monroe County have soared past previous highs, since the county’s first confirmed positive case on March 21.

The number reported for Saturday (Aug. 30) was 38, eclipsing the previous one-day total by 3. The number for Sunday was 56, which is about double the current rolling 7-day rolling average of confirmed positives.

Speculation that the increased numbers are driven by positive tests among Indiana University students is supported by the age range of recent cases. Monroe County health administrator Penny Caudill told The Square Beacon that the health department was getting reports of increased numbers of positive test among people age 18 to 25.

Caudill told The Square Beacon that she’d been advised that the Indiana State Department of Health will eventually provide a breakdown of Indiana University’s numbers. “I am anxiously awaiting these details from the state,” she said.

Based on Indiana State Department of Health numbers, it’s the younger age brackets that are driving the increases. People under age 30 account for 70 percent of confirmed cases for the three-and-a-half-week period from Aug. 7 through yesterday. Continue reading “Monroe County confirmed COVID-19 numbers jump, driven by younger cases”

10K COVID-19 tests a day: Indiana University’s reopening plan to include diagnostic and surveillance testing

cropped covid presser carroll Screen Shot 2020-07-31 at 1.17.05 PM
Screenshot of Friday July 31, 2020 press conference of local Bloomington leaders. It was conducted on the Zoom videoconferencing platform.

As part of its campus re-opening plan, Indiana University is planning to use a combination of diagnostic and surveillance testing, in a program that will see up to 10,000 COVID-19 tests done in a single day.

That was Friday’s news from Aaron Carroll, associate dean of the Indiana University School of Medicine. Continue reading “10K COVID-19 tests a day: Indiana University’s reopening plan to include diagnostic and surveillance testing”

IU adjusts with test-on-arrival approach to fit COVID-19 testing landscape, Monroe County positive cases continue to rise

Indiana University still wants all students to be tested for COVID-19 before they start classes in the fall.

The expectation of universal testing was part an update sent to Indiana University faculty and staff on Friday (July 24). It matched the message from the university’s assistant vice president for strategic partnerships, Kirk White, at Friday’s weekly press conference of community leaders.

The novel part of Friday’s announcement was the hybrid test-on-arrival approach that the university will take to getting all students tested.

Those students who are not tested within a 10-day window before arrival will now be tested after arrival. The testing program will be organized by the university itself. Continue reading “IU adjusts with test-on-arrival approach to fit COVID-19 testing landscape, Monroe County positive cases continue to rise”