INDIANAPOLIS—A group of religious and community leaders are calling on Indiana’s two senators to support an economic recovery bill that would extend unemployment benefits, help immigrants and provide aid to states, cities and town dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The current bill before the Senate—called the HEALS Act—doesn’t go far enough to help the people most directly affected by the pandemic that continues to spread across the country, said the leaders of Faith in Indiana, which is composed of more than 190 religious organizations of Indiana.

Members of Faith in Indiana held a virtual press conference Thursday to call on Indiana’s two senators to support legislation that will help Hoosiers recover from the pandemic.

The group held a virtual press conference Thursday to urge Indiana Sens. Todd Young and Mike Braun, both Republicans, to act. The extended unemployment benefits and other aid from the first rounds of COVID-19 support legislation expire this week.

“The Senate’s delay has pressed families against the cliff,” said Erin Macey of the Institute for Working Families as she described how many Hoosiers were just getting by before the pandemic and the economic fallout hit.

The U.S. House of Representatives weeks ago approved a $3 trillion COVID-19 relief package and now the Senate is working on its own version that would be worth about $1 trillion. Some of the provisions under discussion in the Senate version would cut the weekly $600 supplemental unemployment benefit to $200 while protecting businesses from being sued for failing to protect employees and customers from the virus.

“Hoosiers are facing a new set of obstacles,” Macey said. “They needed to do something weeks ago.”

The COVID-19 pandemic shows no sign of slowing as the number of cases continues to rise. The Indiana State Department of Health reported 970 new cases Thursday for a total of 65,253 as well as 13 more deaths totaling 2,746.

Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that Indiana had 20,609 new claims for unemployment insurance for the week ending July 25, up from 17,911 the prior week. In all, there were 226,972 Hoosiers collecting unemployment last week.

Hoosiers are not only facing the loss of jobs because of the pandemic, they could also lose health insurance tied because it’s tied to their employment, said Fran Quigley, director of the health and human rights clinic at the Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Then, the state could be facing rising costs for Medicaid because of the number of Hoosiers who could then qualify for the state-sponsored medical insurance.

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