Goshen and its utilities have closed all city buildings to the public.
The closure began Monday and will continue through the end of April, according to information provided by city officials.
All offices are conducting business and are available through phone and email during regular business hours. These measures will be reviewed and may be modified by April 30, city officials said.
The city will continue having meetings for the following groups: City Council, Board of Works, Planning & Zoning Commission, Board of Zoning Appeals, Parks & Recreation Board, and Redevelopment Commission. The Parks Board, which is usually held at Rieth Interpretive Center, 410 W. Plymouth Ave., will be moved to the Council Chambers, 111 E. Jefferson St., in April. The date and time of the meeting will remain the same.
To view a schedule of all city meetings, go to goshenindiana.org/calendar.
Meetings also will be streamed on Zoom for the public to view. Links to the videos will be shared on the city website and Facebook accounts for viewers to access. More information will be available later.
PLAYGROUNDS TO CLOSE
On Monday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order asking residents to stay at home or their place of residence, and listed permitted activities and travel. Because of this executive order, all city of Goshen playgrounds will be closed to the public, the release reads. For more information, call the Parks & Recreation Department at 574-534-2901.
To reach any city office during regular business hours, call the City of Goshen’s switchboard at 574-533-8621.
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT UPDATE
Emergency Management Director Jennifer Tobey gave an update on medical supplies Tuesday. “We’re not out of test kits, but I would say the quantities are low. We’ve put in requests wherever we can to ask for more kits.”
She explained that it’s not the test kits themselves that are in short supply, it’s the serum that goes in the test kits.
The governor announced that Eli Lily is working on getting tests out, so, Tobey said, Elkhart County should see an increase in availability by the end of this week or early next week, supposedly.
She said test kits were received Monday, but they were told the kits had to be used by Friday.
She has no exact numbers on how many people are being treated for COVID-19, but she knows there are a lot of people going to urgent cares and hospitals.
The message she is trying to send out to all people, she said, is to call local doctors first and share symptoms. “It might be a situation where they can self-quarantine at home and if symptoms worsen then they can call 911,” Tobey said.
It does not help just to show up at a medical facility, she said, adding the goal is to have a systematic approach to the outbreak.
The Health Department has started a hotline for people who have general questions about the virus. Other places such as CVS and Beacon Health also have hotlines, she said.
“Make a phone call first instead of just showing up,” Tobey stressed. “If you have a high fever, shortness of breath and cough, then maybe it warrants it.
“I know people are worried and they should be worried. They don’t just cancel school, cancel business and limit people out on the streets — there is a reason, and this is scary,” she said. “... If you need to go to store, go to the store, but it is not a situation where people need to stockpile.”
Trucking companies will still be able to restock stores. Grocery stores will not be closed down, she said. And although she preaches constantly about having a 72-hour go kit, Tobey said, in this instance it’s not the case. “That kind of panic doesn’t need to happen.”
Her tips: wash your hands with soap and water, check on your elderly neighbors and family, offer to go get groceries for people who cannot, stay home unless necessary.
ELKHART COUNTY COURTS
The Elkhart Circuit Court and the Elkhart Superior Courts of Elkhart County obtained emergency relief from the Indiana Supreme Court minimizing face-to-face proceedings.
Effective March 17 through May 4, actual face-to-face hearings in the courts in Elkhart County will only occur for emergency and essential court hearings, according to information provided by county officials. All non-emergency and non-essential hearings will either be continued or conducted on the telephone.
Non-essential hearings in civil, domestic relations, juvenile and criminal cases, include, but are not limited to: summary domestic relations hearings, routine criminal proceedings such as initial hearings, violation of supervision, financial compliance, status hearings and pretrial conferences, as well as, small claims hearings, eviction hearings, foreclosure hearings, collections hearings and proceedings supplemental hearings.
Emergency matters for which actual face-to-face hearings shall occur include essential domestic violence hearings for the protection of life or limb and required evidentiary hearings in criminal cases. In-custody criminal cases will be conducted by video conferencing, except for initial hearings, which will be conducted at the Elkhart County Correctional Facility.
The news release read, “Courts staff anticipate and expect that during this time of emergency, we will all cooperate to conclude as many cases as we can by agreement or by conducting telephonic hearings. By following these procedures, we will eliminate all face-to-face in-court hearings except those that involve emergency or essential matters. The courts do not anticipate having any face-to-face hearings during this time since rarely does a hearing involve an emergency or absolutely essential matter requiring a face-to-face hearing.”
All jury trials set on or before May 4 will be continued to a new date. Court staff will notify defendants of new trial and hearing dates, so people should make certain that staff have their proper e-mail information and address, court officials said. As a general rule, spectators and the public will be denied entrance to courts so long as the Emergency Order is in effect.
Pursuant to the Executive Order, no eviction or foreclosure actions or proceedings may be filed with the Clerk of the Elkhart Circuit and Superior Courts until the state of emergency has terminated, according the statement. Eviction and foreclosure proceedings are non-essential hearings and will be set for hearing after May 4.
The Elkhart County Court Clerk is also following this protocol. The Clerk of the Court will be available for filing protective orders, handling child support matters, and providing marriage licenses by appointment only.
People should handle as much of their business with the Elkhart County Court Clerk as possible by telephone or by electronic means. The clerk will have a drop-box in each courthouse for depositing filings which are being made by hand with the respective courts.
The clerk will also have at each courthouse a computer terminal set up to make payments.
For more information, contact the clerk’s office in Goshen by telephoning 574-535-6430, or the clerk’s office in Elkhart by telephoning 574-523-2305, or by telephoning the respective court in which the case is pending. The status of pending cases may be confirmed at mycase.in.gov.
Maple City Health Care Center and Heart City Health Center were among 26 health centers in Indiana to receive supplemental funding in the fight against COVID-19.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration, awarded $1,784,224 to Indiana health centers stemming from the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020.
Health center recipients may use these awards to address screening and testing needs, acquire medical supplies and boost their telehealth capacity in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Maple City Health Care Center, Goshen, received $58,789 and Heart City Health Center, Elkhart, received $62,851.
To continue to support Club members and families while its sites are closed, Boys & Girls Clubs of Elkhart County this week announced the launch of their CLUBatHome platform.
CLUBatHome is the virtual version of BGCEC where Club members can participate in programs and meaningful activities, and keep in touch with their leaders and friends, without leaving their homes. The virtual environment will use videos, Stride Academy, MyFuture.Net and other online resources.
Club members will be able to stay connected and engage with their club directors and staff with fun activities and programs to keep brains learning, bodies active and connections strong, according to information provided by the club. Read-alongs, Arts, DIY STEM, Career Exploration and Healthy Habits are just some of the programs that are running virtually.
HABITAT RESTORE CLOSES
Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart County has decided to close the Elkhart County Habitat ReStore based on the recommendations from the Elkhart County Commissioners and Holcomb’s office because of COVID-19.
Habitat for Humanity of Elkhart has also paused all of its build activities as well as partner family programs through April. Executive Director Greg Conrad said, “While these decisions will impact our work in the near term, our policy reflects our commitment to love our neighbors and safeguard the health of our team, volunteers and Habitat homebuyers and the larger community as a top priority.”
While the Habitat offices will be closed to the public, they continue to plan and prepare for the upcoming build schedule and partner family education program, according to information provided by Habitat. Staff can be reached by phone or email.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has adjusted services, events and operations to protect Hoosiers and prevent further spread of COVID-19. The list below, and updates, can be found at on.IN.gov/DNRcovid19.
All DNR properties including state parks, state forests, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves and state recreation areas. Families will be able to go outside and take a walk, run or bike ride, but they should continue to practice social distancing by remaining six feet away from other people. Entrance fees at properties have been temporarily suspended.
Unstaffed archery ranges.
Indiana DNR-managed trails and campgrounds at Brookville, J.E. Roush, Salamonie, Mississinewa, Cecil M. Harden (Racoon SRA), Cagles Mill (Lieber SRA), Patoka and Monroe lakes (campgrounds, wildlife areas, and boat ramps) remain open. However, public facilities managed directly by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at or below the dams at these lakes (tailwater areas, observation mounds, etc.) are closed.
Campgrounds remain open at this time, but advance reservations are required. No walk-ins are permitted. For those who would prefer to cancel or reschedule due to COVID-19, DNR staff said they will waive fees for cancellations or transfers of reservations and to issuing refunds as requested for campsites held through April 30. This time frame may be extended as the COVID-19 status evolves.
All property offices. Passes and permits can be purchased online at ShopINStateparks.com. Property maps are available online at dnr.IN.gov. Office contact information will be provided on doors for those who have specific questions.
State park inns and restaurants.
Welcome centers, playgrounds, cabins, camper cabins, fire towers, and other facilities.
Nature Centers, Historic Buildings and Visitor Centers, Forest Education Centers, rifle ranges, and enclosed picnic areas.
State Park Inn pools and the aquatic center at Abe Martin Lodge.
All group camps, recreation buildings, youth tent and rally tent areas through April 30. Any groups with reservations have been contacted and fees will be refunded.
The DNR Customer Service Center in downtown Indianapolis is closed to public but is still available by telephone.
The DNR Customer Service Center staff can answer questions at 317-232-4200 or 877-463-6367. It is open 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
AG & COVID-19
The Indiana State Department of Agriculture and the Indiana State Board of Animal Health will be cohosting a conference call for those in the agricultural sector to discuss the current coronavirus situation this Friday.
This call will focus on issues impacting those in the agricultural sector, including, but not limited to, the impact of the stay-at-home order and other recent developments. The organizers stated in a press release that the novel coronavirus is not a foodborne pathogen and is not food transmitted.
This call will be accessible by phone/audio only. (No video will be provided.)
It will be with Agriculture industry leaders, the Indiana State Board of Animal Health and the Indiana State Department of Agriculture
It will take place at noon Friday.
To join the discussion, call 240-454-0887. The meeting/pass ode is 110 58 747.
Current plans are to continue these Friday noontime calls until further notice, according to organizers.
To listen to the call from this past Friday, go online to www.in.gov/boah/2905.htm.