WATCH: Eyewitness News speaks with Evansville Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)- Eyewitness News’ Brandon Bartlett spoke with Evansville Deputy Mayor Steve Schaefer Thursday as a task force continues to work on a plan to get Evansville back up and running.


Brandon Bartlett: Steve, thanks again for talking with us tonight. We talked last week right after the task force was formed. Where do you stand now on coming up with a plan for getting Evansville back up and running?

Steve Schaefer: Sure. Well, we have a diverse group of business and community leaders that have been working tirelessly on key areas of focus, whether it be business assistance, food security, government operations, quality of life, workplace safety and testing. All of these areas are being worked on. And we’re just we’re just glad to have the support of the community.

Brandon Bartlett: Yeah, a main focus of that task force is getting businesses back up and running. What kind of feedback have you been getting from local business owners?

Steve Schaefer: Right? Well, it’s everything from a need for financial resources to access to PPE, whether it be gloves, masks, gowns, hand sanitizer, and a lot of them just want guidance or answers. And, you know, we are collecting all of the information we are setting up workshops, the Chamber of Commerce, is doing a great job and facilitating a lot of the town hall meetings with businesses, and we’re making those connections and trying to do what we can to help them.

Brandon Bartlett: and businesses aren’t the only focus. What about the other areas that your task force is focusing on.

Steve Schaefer: Right? Obviously, business assistance has a heavy focus. We also have a small business loans that we’re working on. But there are other areas which the federal government, state government aren’t, aren’t focused on, primarily, local government usually is there to cover the gaps, whether that would be with food security. You saw yesterday, the great need for food resources in the community. And it’s a new need. It’s individuals that have been laid off or have had issues related to this pandemic, but food security, quality of life, our parks and our venues, entertainment. So many events have been canceled. So we’re trying to work with venues and all of these places to try to help them come up with a plan.

Brandon Bartlett: And I know that your taskforce won’t come up with a date to reopen, but what are you hearing from the state about a possible timeline?

Steve Schaefer: Right, we are all waiting with anticipation for the governor’s guidance for tomorrow. Today on his briefing, he noted again that tomorrow he will be giving guidance for businesses all the way a to z. So we’re all waiting. But in the meantime, we are researching different plans from other states, proper guidelines from CDC to ensure that whenever the date is that there will be a safe manner in terms of reopening.

Brandon Bartlett: Now, when you get that guidance from the governor is that when things with your task force will really take off?

Steve Schaefer: Well, to be honest, there’s been so much work on the front end, we’re simply preparing. When we are given a date, it’ll simply be execution, because a lot of this stuff is you know, whether it’s compiling all the information and feedback and understanding who needs what we’ll be able to hit the ground running when we when we know for sure.

Brandon Bartlett: Now assuming that some restrictions are lifted by the governor, what are some things we still won’t be able to do?

Steve Schaefer: Well, unfortunately, we’re at the mercy of the state, and they will provide detailed guidance. But unfortunately, I think that masks, hand sanitizer gloves, social distancing are here to stay for a while.

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