Brownsburg Councilman to support local businesses if they choose to re-open in early May

BROWNSBURG, IN – Brownsburg Town Councilman Brian Jessen issued the following statement in support of all Brownsburg businesses:

Brownsburg Town Councilman Brian Jessen (R)

It was reported today (4/23), Hendricks County had 565 cases of coronavirus and 25 deaths, and 2,098 people tested as reported by the Indiana Department of Health, out of a population of over 167,000. These stats did not reflect how many of those cases were treated, released, and recovered.

Earlier this week, Governor Eric Holcomb extended his Stay-at-Home order through May 1st. He also gave some additional details of his plan to “re-open” Indiana. Holcomb said Indiana would continue to work in two-week increments and is making progress because of the current containment policies. “Re-opening” will be a gradual process. Last week he said he thought that process would likely start in early May.

According to the model from the Institute for Health and Metric Evaluations (IHME), it shows Indiana hit the peak number of deaths on April 10th and hospitalizations on April 15th. Our State’s health commissioner, Kristina Box, MD, believes the surge is coming at the end of April. On Sunday (4/19), the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) reported more COVID-19 testing in 24 hours than any one day so far. While the number of positive cases was high, it fell short of a new record.

Based on current data trends and the impact of the governor’s stay at home order, another IHME model released over the weekend predicts the governor could loosen distancing guidelines on May 20th, as reported by local media. Last weekend that recommended date was May 25th, and the change would indicate the success Governor Holcomb’s stay-at-home order has had in battling back the virus.

The ISDH reports there have been 69,470 coronavirus tests conducted in Indiana over the last six weeks, with 12,438 results, an 18% positive return. But on Wednesday, the ISDH has cautioned that its daily report on the number of new positive cases should not be considered accurate due to technology glitches.

The ISDH statistics showed the number of positive tests had steadily declined since April 19th.

All of this information is confusing and detrimental to the public. But I believe that the health professionals have enough understanding of this virus to give solid information to the State and Federal authorities charged with managing public well-being.

Gov. Holcomb’s plan to “re-open Indiana” is believed to begin to open businesses but still require people to stay at home? It seems that Indiana’s plan against COVID-19 is based on virtually inaccurate data and projections that were wildly overstated, now being revised downward daily by the medical community. In this process, quality of life in Brownsburg as we know it is rapidly declining, and hundreds in Hendricks County are without jobs. We have the statistical data to begin putting dates on all of this, and it’s time we started doing that.

The bottom line of all this is that Holcomb lacks the authority to shut down businesses according to the Indiana Constitution. Article V of the Constitution of Indiana established the governor’s powers. Constitutionally, the governor has very limited executive authority to manage the government of the State; independently elected cabinet heads hold most of the exercisable powers over state agencies. He is allowed to issue an Executive Order in cases of civil defense disasters and public emergencies.

So by law, Holcomb can issue a voluntary “Stay-at-Home” order, but he cannot quarantine the entire State. He can encourage, and he can beg, but he can’t enforce it across the State. This is why the Indiana State Police, our County Sheriff, and Brownsburg Police have not arrested or fined any “non-essential business” that is still open or people who are going about their regular business in the community. The only reason any of these measures have worked is that Indiana citizens have seen the value of the “Stay-at-Home” order and voluntarily complied.

It cannot be overstated that all Brownsburg employers and employees are essential. These businesses are the lifeblood of our community. Remember this: without businesses, we do not have law enforcement, emergency personnel, or hospitals. Without an operating economy, the grocery stores will cease to have food, medical professionals will have no supplies, and the utilities will cease to operate. Brownsburg businesses are part of that economy, and thus they are essential to not only our local economy but also to that of our nation.

It is for this reason that if any Brownsburg Businesses chose voluntarily to re-open their doors to customers on May 1st, I will support their decision and do all I can to encourage our residents to patronize these businesses. To that end, I urge Governor Eric Holcomb to set an actual date for this re-opening process to begin so that responsible business owners and citizens may start to form concrete plans.

President Donald Trump has stated he wants states to start re-opening their economies by May 1st. “As I have said for some time now, a national shutdown is not a sustainable long-term solution,” he said. “To preserve the health of our citizens, we must also preserve the health and functioning of our economy. Over the long haul, you cannot do one without the other.”

Re-opening guidelines have been broken into three parts, each lasting a minimum of 14 days, as explained by Dr. Deborah Birx, a presidential task force member:

  • Phase 1, which recommends continued social distancing, closure of schools, teleworking, and sheltering in place for vulnerable individuals. Non-essential travel would be discouraged, bars should remain closed, and visits to nursing homes and hospitals should remain prohibited, the guidelines warn. “If a vulnerable population needs to return to work, there should be special accommodations for all vulnerable populations. If the schools are already closed, they should remain closed,” Birx said. “All visits to senior living facilities should continue to be prohibited. Large venues can only be operated under strict physical distancing protocols. Gyms could open if they adhere to strict physical distancing.”
  • Phase 2 allows schools, restaurants, and bars to re-open with diminished occupancy. Non-essential travel can resume, and people can gather in groups no larger than 50, but teleworking is still encouraged. “This is for the employers. We still would like to encourage telework, and the common areas should remain closed or be physically distant,” Birx said. “This should be a relief to many households that have small children: schools, daycares, and camps can re-open in Phase 2. Visits to senior living facilities and hospitals, however, should remain and hospitals prohibited.”
  • Phase 3 allows workplaces to reopen with no restrictions, and visits to senior care centers and hospitals can resume. “It is essentially returning to our new normal. With all of what we talked about through all phases: continuing the good hygiene practices, continuing the respect for spaces between individuals because we know that we still have an issue with asymptomatic spread,” she said.

If Brownsburg businesses should choose to reopen, I would strongly suggest they should take the following precautions (as recommended by the CDC):

  1. Employees should wash their hands often and regularly.

Avoid touching your face, even with clean hands.

Cover your nose and mouth when you cough or sneeze and wash your hands immediately.

Offer hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Post hand-washing reminders and instructions throughout your workplace as a reminder for employees.

  • Disinfect surfaces often.

Consider providing the necessary supplies, like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes, for your employees. Not only are workers more likely to use the supplies on hand, but you can also ensure they’re using the right products.

  • Keep a safe distance.

Maintain a 3- to 6-foot (1-2 meter) distance between yourself and others, especially if they’ve exhibited signs of being sick. The CDC recommends avoiding close contact with anyone if the coronavirus is spreading in your community. This is especially important for those who are at higher risk of getting sick.

  • Send sick employees home right away.

If an employee is coughing, blowing their nose, or sneezing, it’s wise to send them home. Do this even if you’re not sure they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus.

  • Encourage your employees to get a good night’s sleep.

Self-reliance is the answer to our problems. The more self-reliance we have, the more effective the response to this crisis — this should be what sets apart our defining moment of 2020. Against the ineptitudes of politicians, this virus will ravage our State. Against the determination of hard-working, decent, and ordinary people, this virus can be beaten.

In the end, this should be an individual’s decision. Personal responsibility is the key. Continue with voluntary social distancing. If you want to limit your interactions, do so. If you don’t want to go out, don’t. Wash your hands more often than normal. If you have underlying health issues or you are 60 years and older, you should take precautions and limit your exposure to the public.

I have full confidence in our business community and all of our area residents to be considerate and cautious until this virus passes.

For the rest of us, it’s time to get back to work as soon as possible in ways consistent with the President’s plan.”

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 FM WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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