Editorial Roundup:

 
 
Updated 7/14/2020 9:00 AM

(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. July 8 2020.

Not the time to give in

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

As cases increase nationwide, Indiana needs to stay vigilant

Festering uneasiness across the country is underscored by the growing numbers of new cases of coronavirus, especially across the sun belt and western states. Arizona, Texas, California, Florida and the Carolinas are among the new hot spots. Emerging cases in those places alone reveal the truth about the current state of the COVID-19 public health crisis.

Overall, the U.S. has seen record levels of more than 50,000 new cases per day in the past week. The death toll has risen to 130,000-plus with more than 3 million total cases registered since the pandemic reached American shores earlier this year.

Hoosiers can take some comfort in knowing that neither their state nor surrounding states are part of the new coronavirus mix. There are reasons for that. People throughout the Midwest did the hard work in recent months to keep the spread of the virus under control. They made sacrifices, followed rules and guidelines, and showed respect for their neighbors.

That's not to suggest Indiana is out of the proverbial woods. The state has seen increases in cases the past two weeks and deaths are now more than 2,500. Total cases exceed 48,000 and are climbing.

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Vigo County has managed to avoid becoming a hot spot, although total cases have reached 236 with nine deaths.

What has happened in the past is noteworthy. But what happens in the future is far more important.

Indiana is on the brink of a complete reopening. Gov. Eric Holcomb, after reviewing numbers last week and seeing troubling signs, postponed the full reopening and for the most part kept the state at status quo until later this month. That was a wise move.

States that are suffering severe spikes in cases now attribute the resurgence of the virus mostly to reopening too soon and taking a lax approach to addressing the threat at the start.

Closing wide swaths of the state's economy was a difficult exercise and will have long-term negative effects on people, communities and institutions. But for the sake of public health, it was the right thing to do. Given time, Indiana will recover from the economic fallout. In the meantime, people's health must remain the first priority.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

We understand the urge to get back to business as usual. But now is not the time to retreat from the courageous battle against COVID-19 and its spread.

We must continue to take care of each other and minimize risks. The coronavirus is still very much in our midst and will take whatever opportunities it gets to infect more of us.

Everyone can play a role by wearing masks in public, avoiding large gatherings and washing their hands.

The prescription remains the same and has helped Indiana maintain some semblance of coronavirus control. Don't stop now.

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The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. July 11, 2020.

Hoosiers should take aim at no-knock warrants

Breonna Taylor's death in a hail of police gunfire in mid-March grimly illustrates the inherent danger of no-knock warrants.

Taylor and her boyfriend were taken by surprise in bed just before 1 a.m. when three Louisville police officers in plainclothes, authorized by a no-knock search warrant for drugs, crashed through the door of her home.

Not realizing the intruders were police, her boyfriend later said, he called 911, grabbed a gun and fired a shot, wounding one of them. Officers then unleashed more than 20 bullets.

Neither Taylor nor her boyfriend had a record of drug convictions, and police found no drugs in the apartment.

The city of Louisville has since banned no-knock warrants. Some other cities, including Houston and Memphis, have stopped using the warrants within the past year, too.

Reacting to the national protest movement against police brutality spurred by the deaths of George Floyd, Taylor and others, federal lawmakers from both major political parties and both houses have drafted bills that would outlaw no-knock warrants as part of sweeping reform of police practices.

Communities across Indiana and state legislators should take aim at no-knock warrants, as well.

The warrants allow police to enter a private premises without knocking or announcing their presence. Judges issue such warrants in cases where they agree that the announcement of a police presence would enable suspects to destroy evidence or harm officers.

No-knock warrants were first authorized under the administration of President Richard Nixon as part of a get-tough-on-crime approach. Use of the warrants was expanded during the war against drugs in the 1980s.

Law enforcement experts say no-knock warrants haven't been used as much in recent years because they can endanger civilians and officers alike.

Radley Balko, an investigative journalist with the Washington Post and the author of the book 'Rise of the Warrior Cop,' estimates that 8-10 innocent people are killed in no-knock raids annually in the United States.

'We probably see another 20 or 30 where someone who ... may have had some drugs in the house is killed,' Balko told NPR.

The legality of such warrants is called into question under the Fourth Amendment, which protects against searches and seizures deemed unreasonable by the law.

Most Hoosiers would agree that the idea of police breaking into your home without even announcing themselves would be unreasonable.

While no-knock warrants do help officers catch some criminals, the danger they pose easily outweighs the benefits. Both private citizens and police officers will be safer if the warrants are banned.

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Kokomo Tribune. July 8, 2020.

Move over, motorists

A maintenance worker on the Indiana Toll Road was struck and killed by an SUV last week.

Ronald Smith, 61, was in front of his truck at about 1:50 p.m. Thursday, sweeping debris from the shoulder of the highway in St. Joseph County, the Associated Press reports, when the SUV sideswiped Smith's truck and hit him.

State police report emergency lights on Smith's red maintenance truck were on at the time of the crash.

Between 2003-2017, 1,844 workers lost their lives at U.S. road construction sites, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

But what motorists might not realize is they're more at risk of injury and death than the workers.

The Federal Highway Administration reports 27,037 people died in crashes that occur in construction and maintenance work zones, from 1982 through 2017.

Since the peak year of 2002 '" when 1,186 died in construction and maintenance zones '" the number of deaths declined steadily to an average of 591 from 2008-2014, then increased to an average of 772 from 2015-2017.

Most work zone accidents can be avoided, the Federal Highway Administration says. It offers these tips for driving safely in work zones:

' Expect the unexpected. Normal speed limits might be reduced, traffic lanes might be changed and people might be working on or near the road.

' Slow down. Speeding is one of the primary causes of work zone crashes.

' Don't tailgate. Keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead. The most common crash in a highway work zone is the rear-end collision.

' Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and workers and their equipment.

' Pay attention to signs. Warning signs are there to help you and other drivers move safely through the work zone.

' Obey road crew flaggers. A flagger has the same authority as a regulatory sign, so you can be cited for disobeying his or her directions.

' Stay alert and minimize distractions. Dedicate your full attention to the roadway and avoid changing radio stations or using cellphones in a work zone.

' Keep up with the traffic flow. Motorists can help maintain pace by merging as soon as possible. Don't drive right up to the lane closure and then try to barge in.

' Schedule enough time to drive safely. Expect delays.

Be patient and stay calm. Work zones aren't there to personally inconvenience you.

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