COVID-19: Five more reports to help you cope

1. State officials warn about scams related to COVID-19
2. New original short films shot in Indiana available to stream online, for free
3. New guidelines set for Indiana primary election 
4. Cherry Blossom trees beginning to bloom at White River State Park
5: Franciscan ExpressCare Centers changing hours of operation

Report 1: State officials warn about scams related to COVID-19

Hoosiers are facing challenging times to keep their families safe and avoid the spread of COVID-19, officials with the Indiana Department of Revenue said. They added that, unfortunately, scammers are adding additional risk by taking advantage of the current health crisis. Newly surfaced reports show scammers creating text messages, emails, websites and social media posts to pose as government entities and organizations to obtain financial information from individuals for personal gain.

The Indiana Department of Revenue team continues to find ways to assist Hoosiers, which includes helping individuals identify scams to avoid falling victim.

Here are a few key signs of these scams:

  • Emphasizes the terms “Stimulus Check” or “Stimulus Payment.” The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses the official term “economic impact payment.”
  • Asks the individual to sign over their stimulus check.
  • Asks by phone, email, text or social media for verification of personal and/or banking information to receive or speed up their stimulus check.
  • Mails the individual a fake check and requests the individual to call a number or verify information online to cash it.

DOR recommends Hoosiers remain vigilant and work hard to identify these scam attempts. Never engage with potential scammers online or on the phone.

Individuals who receive emails, text messages or social media attempts to gather information that appears to be from DOR, the IRS or an organization closely linked to either government agency, such as the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS), should forward it to

Learn more about reporting suspected scams by going to the Report Phishing and Online Scams page on the IRS website.

Individuals can find official IRS information about the COVID-19 pandemic and economic impact payments on the IRS Coronavirus Tax Relief web page. For information on COVID-19 related changes to DOR operations and ongoing taxpayer relief, visit DOR’s Coronavirus webpage at   

Report 2: New original short films shot in Indiana available to stream online, for free

Four short films exploring how Hoosiers experience and grapple with urban, suburban and rural divides will be part of a digital film festival beginning next week. The films, which were funded by Indiana Humanities, premiered in early 2020 at live events around the state and will now be available to stream online, for free.

In 2019, Indiana Humanities chose five award-winning Indiana filmmakers to create short documentaries examining the ways Hoosiers experience urban, suburban and rural identities today. The films – about a dance instructor in Gary dealing with the city’s disinvestment in arts education, about a rural community newspaper in Wayne County filling the gap caused by media consolidation, about a southern Indiana composting business that hires the formerly incarcerated to transform the land and their lives – complicate our ideas about who lives in Indiana and what they’re up to.

Every Tuesday in April at 7 p.m., Indiana Humanities will host Facebook Live watch parties for four of the films. Each week, online question-and-answer sessions with the filmmakers, along with links to resources on the film’s themes will also be posted on Facebook.

“We hope these films help Hoosiers see themselves and their communities represented onscreen, and spark conversations online and in living rooms across the state,” said Leah Nahmias, director of programs and community engagement at Indiana Humanities.

The films and their launch dates include:

April 7: Sundown to Sunrise (features Valparaiso). Filmmakers: Pat Wisniewski and Tom Desch.

About the film: Trace one man’s journey from sundown to sunrise as he and his family integrate an all-white Indiana town in 1968. By breaking the color barrier, they also helped transform the town and place it on a trajectory of inclusion.

April 14: Hometown Media (features Hagerstown). Filmmaker: Ryan Gleeson

About the film: Follow a week in the life of a small-town newspaper in Wayne County, Indiana, for a look at how rural journalism is practiced today and why it matters.

April 21: Raised in Contrast (features Lebanon). Filmmaker: Chad Perdue

About the film: A look at the experiences of mixed-race and non-white Hoosiers who live in rural and suburban communities.

April 28: The EarthKeepers (features Bloomington). Filmmakers: Mitch Teplitsky and Gabriel Lantz

About the film: In southern Indiana, a married couple decide to leave academia to start a composting business – employing ex-offenders along the way. Now they’re on a mission to avert a looming waste crisis in Indiana, and beyond.

The fifth film, Larry From Gary, is being submitted to film festivals and will be released online in late 2020.

The digital film festival will be held on Indiana Humanities’ Facebook page. Learn more, and watch a trailer of all the films, at

These films are part of Indiana Humanities’ two-year INseparable initiative. INseparable invites Hoosiers to explore how we relate to each other across boundaries, real or imagined, and consider what it will take to indeed be inseparable, in all the ways that matter.

Report 3: New guidelines set for Indiana primary election 

New guidelines for voting in the upcoming Primary Election as a response to Covid-19 have been outlined by District 97 Indiana State Rep. Justin Moed. He said the new guidelines were adopted on March 25 in order to make it possible for greater participation in an election likely to be held while many Indiana voters still impacted by the pandemic.

Here is a list of the changes most likely of interest to the typical voter:

  • The date of the Primary Election has been postponed to Tuesday, June 2, (from May 5).
  • All deadlines related to the original May 5 election date are pushed back 28 days: the new voter registration deadline is May 4 and early voting will now begin on May 5.
  • Any form, notice, filing or ballot intended for use with the May 5 primary is valid for the June 2 election.
  • All registered and qualified Indiana voters are allowed to vote “no-excuse” absentee by mail by completing and submitting this form. Voters will not be required to appear at their County Election Board office to vote absentee.
  • New rules are also in effect for the delivery of absentee ballots: caregivers and family members will be allowed to deliver absentee ballots (rather than household members only).

Visit to obtain additional information about voting in Indiana.

Report 4: Cherry Blossom trees beginning to bloom at White River State Park

Spring has officially arrived and so has the blooming of the Yoshino cherry trees at White River State Park.

Cherry blossom trees in bloom
on west bank of White River.

A gift from Japan, Yoshino cherry trees were given to Indianapolis and other American cities in 2012 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the cherry trees that have come to define spring in our nation’s capital. They have become a real staple to the onboarding of spring, State Park officials said.

Located on the west bank of the White River, east of the Indianapolis Zoo’s White River Gardens, the trees create a stunning backdrop to the Waterfront Pavilion. They will be in full bloom for up to 14 days.

“The blooming of our cherry blossom trees is always a special time for WRSP,” said Carolene Mays-Medley, executive director of the White River State Park Development Commission. “Although we are all practicing social distancing and observing the governor’s COVID-19 protocols, the blossoming of the trees is a pleasant reminder that brighter days are ahead of us and we look forward to all that awaits in White River State Park.”

To learn more about WRSP, visit

Report 5: Franciscan ExpressCare Centers changing hours of operation

Franciscan ExpressCare urgent care centers in central Indiana – including Franciscan ExpressCare CityWay –  are changing their hours of operation, effective April 1.

CityWay operating hours are now  8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Not every center has changed to the same hours.

“This is a reshaping and restructuring and a better model to serve our patients and staff,” said Greg A. Miller, MD, medical director of Franciscan ExpressCare.

Franciscan ExpressCare clinics treat patients with non-life-threatening injuries and illnesses. They are typically faster and less expensive than an emergency room visit. They are walk-in facilities and no appointments are necessary.