The following is a prepared statement from South Bend Mayor James Mueller.
As we enter into the next phase of the COVID-19 pandemic, I wanted to provide a city update on where we are and what’s ahead. Out of 60 test results through the weekend, we still have only had the one positive case in St. Joseph County that our local health officials announced last Thursday. There are about 200 additional tests for which we should receive results within the next day or so. These results will give us a better sense of how the virus is spreading in our community and how effective our efforts to “flatten the curve” have been.
Our community has been working tirelessly to get ahead of this, and I want to thank our local health officials and providers for all their efforts guiding our community. They will provide an update on these latest test results and recommendations for further mitigation actions tomorrow.
As a City, we have been following recommendations from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and our local health officials to implement responsible, effective measures to protect our vulnerable populations from this disease. We will continue to do so and encourage everyone else to do the same.
Recommended measures include social distancing, good hygiene, and making sure that you stay home and call your healthcare provider when exhibiting symptoms. The County hotline at 211 for those who don’t have a healthcare provider and the Beacon Health System hotline at 855-523-2225, South Bend Clinic at 574-307-6870, Saint Joseph Health System at 574-335-8650 are available for those who are already utilizing those providers.
We are now approaching a turning point where additional measures will likely be necessary to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in the South Bend region. Last night, the CDC issued new guidance that mass gatherings with 50 or more people should be cancelled or postponed for the next 8 weeks. And we expect new guidance on business openings/closings sometime today. Moments ago, the governor announced limiting bars and restaurants to carry out only. Local businesses should follow the governor’s direction.
The South Bend Schools announced on Friday that they will close tomorrow. In accordance, we will be closing our community centers effective tomorrow until further notice. I thank Superintendent Dr. Todd Cummings for keeping the schools open as long as he could because these school closings will place an enormous strain on our community and economy.
Our residents and small businesses already face significant economic and social burdens from the measures implemented to date. The road ahead will not be easy, but we’ll get through it together. And we will remember all of the sacrifices made to keep our vulnerable neighbors safe.
We acknowledge the economic hardship this will put on families. Effective today, the City is suspending water shutoffs and late fees for the next 8 weeks at least. And we will explore additional ways that we can help our residents and businesses, in coordination with our federal, state, and local partners. I thank NIPSCO and AEP for suspending their shutoffs as well.
Also, our utilities payment center building will be drive-through only until further notice.
While we work with our public health implement further mitigation measures to reduce the Coronavirus risk to our community, we will continue to provide the city services you depend upon, such as clean drinking water, trash pickup, public safety, and EMS. This is a quickly evolving situation, and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on new developments. Thank you.