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May 31, 2020

3/18/2020 2:01:00 PM
Pandemic crisis deepens
County government offices are preparing for the worst
1st coronavirus case confirmed Wednesday in Jennings County
The first presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Jennings County was confirmed Wednesday morning by the Jennings County Health Department.

"We are working closely with local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and monitored, and that all infection control protocols are being followed," said Peggy Roe of the health department.

The patient is hospitalized, according to the health department, but it would not disclose in which hospital. No additional information about the patient will be released due to privacy laws, the health department noted in a news release.

As of Wednesday morning, 39 positive cases have been confirmed in Indiana according to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) with two deaths. The total number of tests performed by the ISDH and CDC is 193.

The ISDH will provide updates as new information becomes available at in.gov/coronavirus.

It was business as usual at the Jennings County Courthouse and Government Center for the county's governmental offices Tuesday, but that changed Wednesday morning.

"As of now, all the county offices are open for business except the Purdue Extension office," said Matt Sporleder, president of the Board of Commissioners. "But all that is subject to change. We are following state guidelines."

The clerk's office in the courthouse is only open for emergency business as of Wednesday, said Clerk Amy Thompson. Those who need to make payments can do so online or by calling the office at 812-352-3070. That includes small claims and other fines. Child support payments can be made on the state website at childsupportbillpay.com/Indiana or by calling 1-800-840-8757. People who have court cases scheduled are asked to call their attorneys and then, if necessary, the clerk's office to check on the status.

Even before Wednesday, county officials were preparing for the possibility that they may have to at least reduce regular operations in their offices.

"If it comes to that, we may possibly try to keep offices open for emergency business only," Sporleder said Tuesday. "We would have the elected officials and other department heads in the offices to answer phones. It would be like a skeleton crew."

The regular governmental meetings held in the Government Center's conference room will continue as scheduled and remain open to the public, though that, too, may change.

"We are going ahead with meetings for now but will require people to stay six feet apart," Sporleder said. "If someone has to speak or make a presentation at the podium and there are a large number of people in the room, they will come in the room when it is their turn to speak and then they will leave after their agenda item is completed."

The Jennings County Health Department's weekly vaccination clinics on Tuesday are suspended until further notice.

JC Recycling Center to only take trash

Starting Friday, March 20, only trash will be taken at the Jennings County Recycling Center with fees charged.

That is because the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District is going to stop processing recyclables from Jennings County and the other six counties it serves until the coronavirus pandemic crisis ends.

"We hate to do this but we don't have any choice," Sporleder said. "We are keeping our recycling center open, but as a trash-only facility."

The Recycling District, which partners with Jennings County to operate the recycling center, is halting its operations because of the threat of spreading the coronavirus via contaminated recyclables.

Recyclable materials brought to the Jennings County Recycling Center will still be accepted but only as trash. The normal fees for trash will be charged and exact change will be required.

The fees are 50 cents for a 13-gallon bag of trash, $1 for larger bags, $8 for large bulk items such as a couch or mattress, $4 for smaller bulk items such as chairs and commodes and $20 for a level pickup truck load of construction debris.

"John Post is in charge there and he has come up with a procedure where people bringing trash to the recycling center will put their money in a bucket so no one handles the money," Sporleder said. "We won't be able to make change."

The Recycling Center, located at 4800 N. Highway 3, is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. The telephone number is 812-352-0800.

More information about the Southeastern Indiana Recycling District, visit seird.org or call 812-574-4080 or 800-997-4793.

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