Elected officials in Johnson County hosted a virtual press conference Thursday to update local COVID-19 guidelines and restrictions, including a new "stay-at-home" order.
Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers says confirmed cases of the coronavirus have increased to a point where maximum precaution is needed.
"My colleagues and I will be issuing a stay-at-home order to require residents to remain in their homes except when they are out for their work, or permitted activities such as taking care of others and for health and safety reasons," says Myers.
While the governor issued a stay-at-home order last week, Johnson County cities had yet to issue municipal restrictions as some other cities, including Indianapolis, have done.
Most parks, trails and golf courses will remain open. However, all playgrounds, basketball and tennis courts will be closed.
Myers says it has not been an easy decision.
“It’s a fluid situation and its expanding very rapidly," he says. "It will likely get worse before it gets better.”
The orders will be executed by local mayors, town managers and the Johnson County Commission, and will remain in effect until May 1.
Franklin Mayor Steve Barnett says essential businesses and some services are permitted to stay open.
“These include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, garbage pickup and public transit," Barnett says. "Restaurants are permitted to remain open for takeout and delivery only.”
Johnson County Commissioner Brian Baird says it's important citizens adhere to the new restrictions given the data reported in recent days. As of Thursday morning, the Indiana State Department of Health reports 126 confirmed COVID-19 cases and three deaths connected to the disease in Johnson County.
“We are right there with Hamilton County for the second most positive cases in Indiana,” Baird says. “Experts are predicting another two to four weeks before reaching peak infection, which means things are only going to get worse. Taking action now can lessen the negative impact as we near and cross that peak period.”
As with the state’s order, essential businesses and services are permitted to stay open. These include grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, police stations, fire stations, hospitals, doctor’s offices, health care facilities, garbage pickup and public transit. Restaurants are permitted to remain open for takeout and delivery only.
Non-essential businesses are instructed to close unless employees are able to work from home.
Aspire President and CEO Christian Maslowski expressed support for the orders while stressing the trying times for many local businesses and their employees.
“Our local businesses need us now more than ever," Maslowski says. "We encourage folks who are fortunate to not have income disruption to buy gift cards, keep their subscriptions and buy now, but pick up later. Your support can literally help save a local business.”