Local mayors, health officials urging people to follow health guidelines to prevent spread of COVID

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EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke was joined by Henderson Mayor Steve Austin, Mount Vernon Mayor G. William “Bill” Curtis, Princeton Mayor Greg Wright and Boonville Mayor Charlie Wyatt to urge people to follow coronavirus guidelines.

During health leaders are asking us all to celebrate Thanksgiving in our own home.

“Think about the selfless decision to keep gatherings small, connect virtually. There will be many other thanksgivings and Christmases to celebrate safely, but right now this year we need everybody to help so we are ready to care for you when it’s needed,” said Dan Parod, St. Vincent Southern Region President.

“Thanksgiving could be the event that pushes our systems past our limits,” explained Shawn McCoy, Deaconess Health System CEO. McCoy said Evansville hospitals are seeing three times more patients than during previous peaks. Hospitals are bringing in travel medical professionals as some of their own staff members contract the virus. “We have been at our near capacity on several days the past few weeks. In addition, our employees are not immune to COVID.”

“Wear your mask. I believe that most of our citizens. They know what’s going on. They try to social distance, but again there’s always a group, ‘this is all a fake. This is a hoax. Well it’s not it’s real,” said Boonville Mayor Charlie Wyatt. He is pleading for people in Southern Indiana, and surrounding areas, to take this pandemic seriously. Both him and his wife are COVID-19 survivors. “But I have buried several of my good friends because of COVID.”

Community leaders are asking everyone to help flatten the curve so businesses and the economy can begin to bounce back after being impacted more eight months.

“In the spring we became COVID soldiers,” said Newburgh Town Manager Christy Powell, “There are no boundaries to this virus.”

“It is just absolutely critical that we work together as counties, cities,” said Mayor Curtis.

“Small personal sacrifices will do a lot to get us ahead of this virus,” said Henderson Mayor Steve Austin.

The Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported 7,420 more positive coronavirus cases and announced 59 additional confirmed COVID-19 deaths Thursday. The latest ISDH dashboard data indicates the state’s 7-day all-test positivity rate of 12.1%, with a cumulative rate of 6.8% positive.

Health officials say Evansville hospitals are seeing patient loads three times higher than previous rates. They worry Thanksgiving could push hospitals past their limits.

Earlier this week, Gov. Holcomb announced new restrictions to combat the surge in COVID cases.

Restrictions for orange counties:

  • Social events limited to 50 people
  • Special events of more than 50 people will need approval from the local health department.
  • Attendance at winter indoor K-12 extracurricular and co-curricular events is limited to 25% capacity
  • Capacity in common areas and break rooms should be reduced and users should be socially distanced
  • Community recreational sports leagues and tournaments may continue with attendance limited to participants, required personnel and parents/guardians only.

Restrictions for red counties:

  • Social gatherings limited to 25 people
  • Special, seasonal or commercial events planned for more than 25 people need approval from the local health department. Events are not advised to be held. College and professional sports are included.
  • Attendance at winter indoor K-12 extracurricular activities, including IHSAA sports, is limited to participants, support personnel and parents/guardians.
  • Local officials may consider limiting hours for the operation of bars, nightclubs and restaurants.
  • Community recreational sports leagues and tournaments may continue with participants, required personnel and parents/guardians only.

On Wednesday, Governor Beshear announced all public and private K-12 schools are to cease in-person instruction beginning November 23.

The following restrictions are in effect from Friday, November 20 at 5 p.m. local time to Sunday, December 13 at 11:59 p.m.:

  • Restaurants are closed to indoor dining. Delivery and to-go is allowed, as well as outdoor dining if mask mandates and other things are followed.
  • Indoor social gatherings- limited to your current household plus one other household, eight people or less
  • Indoor venues, event spaces or theatres (includes funerals and weddings) – no more than 25 people per room
  • Gyms, fitness centers and pools: 33% occupancy, must maintain 6 feet apart, group classes prohibited, masks required

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(This story was originally published on November 19, 2020)

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