ANDERSON — Despite restrictions on how nonessential businesses are to operate, the Madison County COVID-19 Task Force is dealing with those not in compliance.
Anderson Mayor Thomas J. Broderick is having city workers work from home and to maintain city services.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, along with Madison County, has provided guidelines for nonessential businesses to remain open by offering carryout or delivery options and to limit public access to their buildings.
“Why can’t businesses be responsible and help stop the spread?” Stephenie Grimes, administrator of the Madison County Health Department, said Tuesday.
Grimes said the task force, consisting of officials from several local disciplines including law enforcement and the business committee, has been discussing how to deal with those businesses not in compliance.
She said there will first be a verbal warning, then a written warning by letter and finally up to a $2,500 fine imposed by the Madison County Board of Commissioners in their emergency declaration.
County Attorney Jonathan Hughes of Bose, McKinney & Evans said the governor’s emergency order took effect at 11:59 p.m. Tuesday.
He said county officials are informing local nonessential businesses of the governor’s order to remain closed or follow the specific guidelines.
Grimes said getting COVID-19 test results from the Indiana State Department of Health and private labs is taking a long time.
“Ascension St. Vincent Anderson is waiting on the results of 14 tests,” she said.
Grimes said the state has changed the process of notifying local health departments and hospitals when a positive test takes place.
“We’re asking the hospitals to inform us,” she said. “We want to begin the investigation of people that have been in contact with someone who tested positive as quickly as possible.”
Grimes said the task force met by conference call and discussed the shortage of personal protective equipment.
“There is a shortage and we’re working on the best way to get through it,” she said. “The schools have some equipment that they are providing to first responders.”
A concern is the inmate population at the Madison County Jail and in all counties, she said.
“How do you isolate or quarantine someone who has COVID-19 or flu-like symptoms?” she said. “Right now the courts have done a good job of keeping the jail numbers down.”
Grimes said an outbreak in the jail would be difficult to contain.
“We’re trying to figure out how to be prepared to isolate or quarantine people in the jail.”
Anderson’s mayor said the different units of local government in Madison County are working well together.
“We’re trying to slow the spread,” Broderick said. “The city is taking steps to protect our employees and the residents of Anderson.”
Broderick said the utility office continues to accept payments, but he is asking residents to pay by check or credit card online and to avoid the drive-up window, if possible.
“There is no fee for a check or credit card,” he said. “The utility office will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. starting Wednesday.”
Broderick said the utility departments will continue to connect properties, but it may take longer than normal.
He said the City of Anderson Transit System buses continue to operate.
“We’re asking people to ride only when necessary,” he said. “Ridership is down, which indicates people are following the stay-home directive.
“I worry about people with special health needs,” Broderick said. “People rely on the service.”
Each city department has received directives that are unique to each department and the city is in the process of connecting people by telephone and computer to work from home, he said.
Broderick said the Grandview Golf Course is closed along with the playground equipment in the city’s parks.
“People can still use the parks to walk, but they shouldn’t congregate,” he said.