Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb's stay-at-home order to combat the coronavirus outbreak won't affect necessary Fort Wayne and Allen County services, officials stressed at a news conference Tuesday.
During the event at Rousseau Centre, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry listed services still in operation: police and fire protection, 911 service, the 311 city help line, and scheduled garbage and recycling container pickups.
“We have 500 police officers, 400 firefighters, and the county has several hundred deputy sheriffs” to ensure the safety of the public, Henry said.
Allen County Commissioner Nelson Peters said the county will comply with the governor's order by closing most county office buildings to the public, including Rousseau Centre.
Citizens Square, which also contains some county offices, has already been closed.
The county will be operating with essential employees only, beginning today, with many working from home and many county functions available online.
However, the Allen County Courthouse and Annex, Bud Meeks Justice Center and Criminal Division Services will be open on a limited basis.
Officials asked residents to consult the county courts' website, www.allensuperiorcourt.us/covid19, for information on what proceedings will continue during the emergency, and allencounty.us/online for functions that can be performed online.
Henry said the city's water filtration, sewage and street department functions continue.
He added that residents are not prohibited from exercising outdoors, but he asked them to go alone or continue social distancing, or keeping 6 feet apart.
Peters said county employees not labeled essential will be placed on public health leave according to the county's COVID-19 employee and operations policy. Some personnel may be asked to work intermittently from home through April 6 and will earn their regular rate of pay for documented time.
Flanked by other commissioners and with several department heads in attendance, Peters struck a note of reassurance and optimism.
“We have already done a ton of work (to combat COVID-19) in a short amount of time,” he said, adding the disease “is not going to cripple this county” because residents are resilient and the crisis phase will come to an end.
“We will emerge stronger as an Allen County community,” Peters said.
Inmate, officer test negative
Allen County Jail has had one inmate and one confinement officer develop symptoms consistent with COVID-19, but neither tested positive for the disease.
The inmate developed a fever early last week and was isolated and tested, Allen County Sheriff David Gladieux told The Journal Gazette on Tuesday. Negative results came back Saturday or Sunday, he said.
The confinement officer developed symptoms while at home and was tested and found negative, the sheriff said.
Gladieux said those on work release will not be penalized if they lose a job or do not get a new one because of a COVID-19 closing.
“We know this is a temporary situation,” he said.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed said no city police officers have developed COVID-19.