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April 4, 2020

3/23/2020 12:47:00 PM
Public health emergency
County commissioners enact ordinance limiting businesses, traffic to 'essential' only
Jennings County Emergency Medical Service/Rescue 20 medics wear protective masks as they transport a patient in North Vernon Sunday. Emergency workers, who are at the most risk during the coronavirus crisis, are taking all possible protective measures.—Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
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Jennings County Emergency Medical Service/Rescue 20 medics wear protective masks as they transport a patient in North Vernon Sunday. Emergency workers, who are at the most risk during the coronavirus crisis, are taking all possible protective measures.—Staff Photo by Bryce Mayer
AN EMERGENCY ORDINANCE OF THE JENNINGS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Whereas, Jennings County, Indiana along with many other Indiana counties and all 50 states, have experienced confirmed cases of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and;

Whereas, COVID-19 is a respiratory disease that can result in serious illness and death and is easily transmitted from person to person, and;

Whereas, on January 31, 2020 the United States Department of Public Health and Human Services Secretary declared a public emergency for the COVID-19, and;

Whereas, on March 6, 2020 Governor Eric J. Holcomb issued his Declaration of Public Health Emergency for the State of Indiana for COVID-19 as Executive Order 20-02 and further Executive Order 20-04 on March 16, 2020, and;

Whereas, the Board of Commissioners of Jennings County, pursuant to IC 36-8-2-4 and 5, has the authority to regulate conduct that might endanger public health, safety or welfare and to impose restrictions to prevent the transmission of diseases;

Whereas, due to the potential severity of COVID-19 and the need to take urgent action, the following is
effective as of March 23, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.

NOW, THEREFORE, The Board of Commissioners of Jennings County, do hereby:

1. Declare that a public health emergency exists in Jennings County due to COVID-19.



2. Order that Jennings County implement some travel restrictions, permitting only essential travel, such as to and from work, travel related to medical care, travel for food, groceries, medication, essential household goods, and hygiene products, and other essential services.



3. For a period of two (2) weeks, only critical essential businesses shall remain open. All other, non-essential, businesses shall remain closed, including all Jennings County government offices not specifically listed below as "essential."



4. Critical essential businesses to remain open, include, but are not limited to:

a. Essential Jennings County government offices, including the following:

i. Jennings County Health Department

ii. Jennings County Sheriff's Department

iii. Jennings County 911

iv. Jennings County EMS

v. Jennings County EMA

vi. Jennings County Highway Department

vii. Jennings County Courts, including Clerk and Security, allowing only for operations as ordered by the Indiana Supreme Court in its March 19, 2020 Order on Jennings' County Petitioner for AR 17 Emergency Relief. See Order attached.

viii. All fire departments

ix. Any other office, agency, or business providing relief services and efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

b. Grocery stores;

c. Funeral homes;

d. All health care service providers, including doctor offices, hospitals, pharmacies, and therapy establishments;

e. Banks, lending institutions and all other related businesses;

f. Gas Stations and auto repair businesses;

g. Convenience stores;

h. "Dollar' stores;

i. Day Care facilities;

j. Restaurants and bars-carry-out, delivery and drive-up only;

k. Utility and Trash Services;

I. Airport;

m. Postal services/Fed Ex and UPS:

n. Veterinarian clinics:

o. Home Improvement/hardware:

p. Hotels/motels:

q. Laundromats:

r. Public and Private transportation,

s. Agricultural operations: pet stores:

t. Legal services:

u. Social Service agencies:

v. Industry either directly or indirectly providing goods or services to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.



5. There should be no public gatherings of more than ten (10) people and all Jennings County residents are to attempt at all possible times to maintain a social distance of six (6) feet or more from others. The 10-person restriction does not apply to work places so long as the social distancing guidelines are followed and internal safeguards are put into place with regard to
cleaning, i.e. disinfecting and sanitizing, and social distancing.



6. This is an ongoing and evolving public health crisis. Refusal to comply may result in suspension of permits as well as fines by Order of the Jennings County Health Department and the Jennings County Health Officer under IC 16-20-1-19 and IC 16-20-1-21.



7. The Board of Commissioners acknowledge the hardship and sacrifice that is being imposed on the businesses and citizens of Jennings County by these closures. These restrictions will be revisited as the COVID-19 circumstances change, and are subject to revision as deemed appropriate for the health and well-being of Jennings County citizens.


READ AND ADOPTED THIS 22nd DAY OF MARCH, 2020.
JENNINS COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS:
____________________________________________
Matt Sporleder, President
___________________________________________
Bob Willhite, Commissioner
___________________________________________
Dave Lane, Commissioner
ATTEST:
______________________________
Tessisa Salsman, Auditor

Supporting Statement of Commissioner Matt Sporleder:

I want to thank the Jennings County Health Department and other community leaders for their incredible cooperation and working together during these unprecedented times. The commissioners fully understand the burden that this has placed on many citizens in our community.
The risk of doing nothing is too great. Therefore, we are erring on the side of protecting the health and well-being of all of our citizens. We ask that all citizens do their part to help us get on the other side of this pandemic. I have witnessed our community rise to the challenge in the face of adversity on many occasions and I believe this time will be no different. Please take time to look after those in need, check on your neighbors and be kind to everyone you encounter.

Supporting Statement of Jennings County Public Health Officer Dr. Gregory Heumann:

Due to the evolving situation with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jennings County Health Department is convinced it is absolutely necessary to take more extensive measures to control this outbreak. A major part of this decision is about not only protecting our citizens but also about limiting the burden on the local healthcare system so that it is not overwhelmed and can continue to serve our entire community. We appreciate everyone's cooperation and sacrifice to keep Jennings County safe.

Supporting Statement of City of North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs:

Due to the heightened situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, and the potential severity of the health risk to our citizens, The City of North Vernon joins the Jennings County Board of Commissioners in advocating for strong and necessary precautions. We believe these precautions are most appropriate for the protection of our citizens and for the purpose of aggressively mitigating the spread of this deadly
virus. We pledge to continue our cooperative effort against this pandemic with not only Jennings County but with the State and Federal governments as well, and to keep a unified front against this outbreak. We continue to urge all residents to join us and to adhere to these restrictions to help keep North Vernon and Jennings County as safe and healthy as possible.

Supporting Statement of Town of Vernon Mayor Dan Wright:

Due to the heightened situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak, and the potential severity of the health risk to our citizens, The Town of Vernon joins the Jennings County Board of Commissioners in advocating for strong and necessary precautions. We believe these precautions are most appropriate for the protection of our citizens and for the purpose of aggressively mitigating the spread of this deadly virus. We pledge to continue our cooperative effort against this pandemic with not only Jennings County but with the State and Federal governments as well, and to keep a unified front against this outbreak. We continue to urge all residents to join us and to adhere to these restrictions to help keep Vernon and Jennings County as safe and healthy as possible.

The Board of Commissioners on Sunday declared a public emergency for Jennings County because of the COVID-19 crisis.

"This is something that needs to be done," said Matt Sporleder, president of the commissioners. "The risk of doing nothing is too great. It's just common sense."

The order, which went into effect at 8 a.m. Monday, March 23, calls for travel restrictions that permit essential travel only and also calls for the closing of nonessential businesses.

"This is not a lockdown," Sporleder said. "You can still go to get gas, go to work, go to the grocery or drug store as necessary."

For a period of two weeks, only "critical essential" businesses may remain open in the county, according to the ordinance. That includes industries directly or indirectly providing goods or services to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

"We are asking businesses to shut down for two weeks," Sporleder said. "But if you are directlry or indirectly involved in fighting coronavirus, we're not asking you to close. For instance, Webster West makes boxes that are used to ship medical supplies. Decatur Plastic Products makes products needed for hospitals. Places like that obviously need to keep working."

In essence, Sporleder said, it all comes down to common sense.

"Follow the advice of the experts, stay home, limit going out as much as possible and stay safe," he said.

Several other counties have issued similar public health emergency ordinances, including neighboring Decatur County.

"The state didn't make us do this," Sporleder said. "We have been working on this ordinance for several days."

In an official statement, Sporleder said, "The commissioners fully understand the burden that this has placed on many citizens in our community. The risk of doing nothing is too great. Therefore, we are erring on the side of protecting the health and well-being of all of our citizens. We ask that all citizens do their part to help us get on the other side of this pandemic."

Dr. Gregory Heumann, the county's public health officer, echoed that in his statement.

"The Jennings County Health Depart­ment is convinced it is absolutely necessary to take more extensive measures to control this outbreak," he noted. "A major part of this decision is about not only protecting our citizens but also about limiting the burden on the local healthcare system so that it is not overwhelmed and can continue to serve our entire community. We appreciate everyone's cooperation and sacrifice to keep Jennings County safe."

Both North Vernon Mayor Mike Ochs and Vernon Mayor Dan Wright also issued supporting statements, both of which said in part: "We believe these precautions are most appropriate for the protection of our citizens and for the purpose of aggressively mitigating the spread of this deadly virus."

The full text of the county's public health emergency ordinance can be read at the right.




2nd case confirmed in Jennings Monday

by Bryce Mayer and Susan King


A second positive COVID-19 case has been confirmed in Jennings County by the Indiana Department of Health Monday morning.

"We have nothing we can report at this point," said Lori Leahigh of the Jennings County Health Department. "We are investigating."

As reported in the Plain Dealer on March 19, the health department announced on Wednesday, March 18, that a person from Jennings County tested positive for the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at an undisclosed location.

Citing privacy laws and specifically the Health Insurance Privacy and Portability Act (HIPPA), the health department is not releasing any more information about the first COVID-19 case.

Pam Petry, Public Nurse in the Jennings County Health Depart­ment, explained that for legal reasons concerning privacy, no information identifying the patient is available.

The investigation of the source of the patient's disease is ongoing, according to Petry. Investigations are being conducted by Petry interviewing the patient and the patient's family. The patient is being asked for names and places the patient had been within the last two weeks. These persons are then being contacted and may be asked to participate in a voluntary quarantine by staying home for 14 days.

Petry did not indicate the number of people under voluntary quarantine in Jennings County. She did indicate that the health department is continuing to investigate how the first patient who tested positive for the COVID-19 virus contracted it.

This first patient in Jennings had not within the last 21 days recently traveled to a known location - such as Italy, China, Iran or Japan or the Biogen Conference in Boston, which was the source of the first two cases in Marion County, Ind. - or had been in contact with a known patient who contracted the virus through such travel. It is therefore assumed that the patient contracted the virus through "community spread."

Community spread means that a person has been infected with the virus somewhere by someone, but is not sure how or where they became infected. The virus is transmitted between people who are in close contact with one another - within about six feet - and through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouth or nose of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs. Some spread may be possible before people show symptoms.

Petry cautioned that staying home, avoiding groups of 10 people or fewer and following the precautions of washing one's hands properly; practicing social distancing, cleaning surfaces she was optimistic that "we will get through this."

"I know our community will support doing the right thing. We have a very good community," Petry added.

Peggy Roe, the health department's office administrator, also stressed the importance of following the well-publicized guidelines designed to diminish the spread of the coronavirus.

"We as a community need to support each other. This is everyone's responsibility," Roe said. "The guidelines have not changed, but it is time to listen and take action. Limit all travel to essential travel only. Keep social distancing when you have to travel. Wash your hands. Cover your cough and sneezes. Be safe and stay home."





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