Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard declared a local disaster emergency March 18 and called for an end to unnecessary travel and the closure of public playgrounds, among other measures, all in an effort to slow the new coronavirus pandemic.
The order followed several other closures throughout Carmel in the last week, including schools, the library and the Monon Community Center. The mayor announced on March 19 the closure of Brookshire Golf Club and the city’s household hazardous waste disposal site.
“We fear it’s going to get worse before it gets better,” Brainard said. “We’re confident if we do the right things now we can avoid longer closures and greater problems in a few days and a few weeks.”
Two COVID-19 cases had been confirmed in Hamilton County as of March 19, with 56 reported in Indiana. Two Hoosiers had died. At least two City of Carmel employees have self-quarantined because of possible exposure to the virus.
The order is in effect for one week. It could be extended through a vote of the Carmel city council. Brainard said the situation will be reviewed on a daily basis to determine if the order should be extended.
“We’re trying to avoid the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases that other countries and other regions of the country have experienced,” he said. “This is based on the best advice we’re getting (to prevent that).”
During the emergency period, travel is only permitted for medical care; providing care as a primary caregiver; mandatory work activities; trips for food, groceries, medication, essential household goods and hygiene products; visiting parks; donating blood; and recreational trips where occupants do not leave the vehicle.
Brainard said he expects the “vast majority” of people to follow the order. He said police have tools to limit traffic on the roads, but he doesn’t expect them to be needed.
“We don’t know how long this is going to last, but we’re going to follow the guidance of the best health professionals in the country,” Brainard said.