COVID-19 UPDATE: Three new developments amid the pandamic

Report 1: City makes transition to electronic public meetings and hearings
Report 2: Indy Pride Festival postponed, with new date yet to come
Report 3: Kroger partners with city and IPS to offer free virus testing

1: City makes transition to electronic public meetings and hearings

City makes transition to electronic public meetings and hearings. Department of Metropolitan Development and Indianapolis Historic Preservation Commission staff have pivoted to digital platforms to get city business moving forward in light of Gov. Holcomb and Mayor’s Hogsett’s stay-at-home executive orders.

DMD and IHPC staff said they were focused on implementing fair, interactive electronic hearings to provide continuity of government services. As a result, the city’s public meetings have garnered national attention, including being recently featured on the American Planning Association’s podcast as a national example of how to conduct digital hearings during the COVID-19 crisis. 

While many departmental functions were already performed electronically, one major challenge emerged that was not a straightforward transition — how to conduct public meetings and hearings.

DMD officials said both Current Planning and IHPC staff have been intaking and processing petitions electronically, including applications for rezoning, variances, plat, regional center, and architectural design review. If the application requires Board or Commission approval, case is docketed for a public hearing, and the City of Indianapolis is utilizing Webex, which is an online platform that facilitates digital meetings through video conference or by phone. The public can tune into these meetings by watching Channel 16 or by downloading the Webex Chrome browser plug-in or the Cisco WebEx Meetings desktop app. During the hearing, petitioner presentations will be visible on the screen, just as they normally are, so all persons watching via WebEx video or Ch. 16 will be able to see and hear. In addition, the public can interact and participate in three ways:

1. Ask questions and provide comments via the WebEx Q&A function when the case is being heard;

2. Request to speak and provide public testimony via the WebEx Q&A function;

3. Email or

During the public hearing, the WebEx Q&A function can be used to submit questions, comments, or request to publicly speak relative to the case that you are supporting or opposing. Staff will aggregate each comment relative to a case and make sure those comments are read into the record at the appropriate time. Citizens may also indicate they would like to speak on a specific case. For reference purposes, DMD and IHPC staff ask that people include their name, address, either the case number or petition address, and if they’d like to speak or have their comment read into the record. Questions or comments can also be sent to or  These emails are being monitored in real-time and questions/comments will be read to Board and Commission members if received in a timely manner.

Citizens can visit or to see the hearing schedule and what cases will be heard.

2: Indy Pride Festival postponed, with new date yet to come

Indy Pride Festival postponed, with new date yet to come. The 2020 IndyPride Festival, originally set for June 30, has been postponed. Officials with Indy Pride said new dates for the 2020 festival and Cadillac Barbie Pride Parade will be announced.

Led by a volunteer Board of Directors, Indy Pride produces events which educate, honor the history, and celebrate the diversity of the Indianapolis Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer community.

3: Kroger partners with city and IPS to offer free virus testing

Kroger partners with city and IPS to offer free virus testing. Kroger Health, the Marion County Public Health Department and Indianapolis Public Schools are partnering to provide free, drive-through COVID-19 testing on the west side of Indianapolis.

The testing will take place at Ernie Pyle School 90 at 3351 W. 18th St. The first test will be offering today, May 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with other testing set for May 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27. The same hours apply to each day.

Community members with and without symptoms may register at Eligibility will be established by a virtual screening tool, in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) along with recommendations from state and local government.

Those who are eligible can select an appointment time in their area. Then, registrants will receive an email confirmation with pre-appointment paperwork. Each patient should bring a photo ID to the testing site and should leave car windows rolled up until a health care practitioner approaches the car and advises the patient to roll down the window.

The drive-through testing location has a self-administered nasal swab that must be ordered and observed by a provider. Kroger determined that this testing methodology is beneficial as it increases the number of tests that can be provided while conserving available personal protective equipment.

Kroger Health professionals expect to test as many as 330 people per day. Results are expected within approximately 72 hours.

“We are closely monitoring COVID-19 data each day to understand the impact this is having in Marion County,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department.  “While there is reason to be hopeful, we can’t relax quite yet.  Everyone’s continued hard work and patience is needed to slow the spread of this virus even more and help put our community on a positive path moving forward.”

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires city-wide action from a broad coalition of community partners,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “It should therefore come as no surprise to see Kroger step-up and partner with our county’s health department and Indianapolis Public Schools to provide this free service. This is the kind of continued collaboration we will need to ensure the health and safety of Marion County residents.”

“This work, like all the work we do, is guided by our values and our promise to feed the human spirit,” said Colleen Lindholz, president of Kroger Health. “As we continue to create partnerships that offer easy-to-access testing, we are proud of our commitment to serving our customers and our communities. Kroger and The Little Clinic will donate all professional services at the drive-through testing facilities, including orders and observing the COVID-19 test.”