By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – The coronavirus wasn’t on Warsaw City Council’s agenda Monday, May 4, but it was the biggest discussion point for city officials.
Mayor Joe Thallemer provided the council with an update on several aspects of how the city is responding, but first expressed concern that people are already letting their guard down as restrictions established to slow the spread of the virus are slowly being lifted.
That appeared to be the case this weekend as more and more people headed outside and to stores shortly after Gov. Eric Holcomb announced on Friday that travel restrictions would be lifted Monday, May 4, as the state begins a phased-in approach to reopening the state.
Thallemer wasn’t alone in his concern about people letting their guard down. He said he received numerous calls from people worried about others not using masks or following social distancing guidelines.
Apprehension over how Americans will react as many states begin relaxing restrictions appears to be a growing theme. A plea from Thallmer Monday night came before council coincided with similar remarks heard across the country, including White House advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, on cable news. The concern was consistent: Don’t let off the gas yet.
Thallemer urged people to continue wearing masks while shopping, embracing social distancing and washing their hands.
“We’re an outbreak away from going back to where we were,” Thallemer told the council and those watching on the city streaming service.
Meanwhile, Thallmer provided several updates on what the city is doing, including participation in emergency relief money for businesses inside the city.
Eight applications from city businesses have been approved for companies seeking some of the $100,000 in assistance set aside by the city in no-interest loans in a program being administered through Kosciusko County Economic Development Corporation (KEDCo).
“What we did is resonating,” Thallemer said of the interest in the program.
Thallemer said he was unsure how much each of the applicants will receive. The maximum amount is $10,000. Council has expressed a willingness to consider making more money available through its EDIT fund if necessary.
KEDCo learned last week the county will receive $245,000 for a similar program that will serve businesses in the county.
In other virus-related matters, Thallemer said:
- The city is preparing for its employees to return to work next week. Plexiglass shields are being installed and workspaces are being adjusted to adhere to social distancing. A plan for returning is being assembled and will be presented to workers.
- An executive order extended by Thallemer last week for stay-at-home pay will expire in two weeks and Thallemer predicted it would not need to be extended any further.
- City offices continue to interact with the public through appointments.
- Anyone visiting City Hall will be asked to wear a mask.
- A date for reopening city offices has not been announced.
- The city will be eligible for some of the $300 million available to cities, towns and counties to be used to offset costs associated with virus-related expenses. Details have not been finalized.
- More estimates now expect municipalities will face a bigger challenge than first expected in regard to the collection of property tax revenues because of the pandemic.