Aquatics Center

A four-day event at the Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center, scheduled to start Thursday, was abruptly canceled Wednesday night.

ELKHART — Though no cases of coronavirus had been confirmed in Elkhart County by Thursday afternoon, events were canceled, venues were shut down and local officials encourage caution.

“We expect that we will see cases very soon and will report that once we have that information,” the Elkhart County Health Department said Thursday.

The Elkhart Health & Aquatics Center canceled a large swim meet late Wednesday that was supposed to run Thursday through Sunday. Thousands, mostly from Illinois, were expected to visit the city for what was billed as the new facility’s largest event since it opened last summer.

The Lerner Theatre, after announcing at 9:20 a.m. Thursday that events would continue as planned, announced at 11 a.m. it would close its doors for the remainder of March. The hope, officials said, was to reschedule events, including “The Price is Right Live,” which was scheduled for Friday.

The Goshen Chamber of Commerce’s Founders Day Luncheon on Thursday was canceled, along with Mayor Jeremy Stutsman’s State of the City address, planned for about 400 people.

Ivy Tech Community College, currently on spring break, will postpone all classes until March 23. At that point, classes will be online through April 5 or longer.

The City of Elkhart canceled a public meeting with Mayor Rod Roberson and City Councilman Dwight Fish, D-4, that was scheduled for Thursday at the Roosevelt Center.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Elkhart canceled all face-to-face events, including worship services, at least through the end of March.

The Buckeye Donkey Ball game scheduled for Friday at Bethany Christian Schools has been postponed. People who have purchased tickets may keep them for a rescheduled date to be determined or return them to the Bethany office for a refund.

McCormick Motors in Nappanee postponed its annual Commercial Truck Show.

Outside of Elkhart County, the University of Notre Dame announced that the April 18 Blue-Gold football game is canceled and all athletic activity has been suspended. And all performances of “The Lion King” at the Morris Performing Arts Center were postponed.

Hospitality sector hurts

Greater Elkhart Chamber of Commerce president Levon Johnson said the cancellations will hurt the local hospitality sector.

Earlier this week, local hotels were 85 percent to 90 percent booked, according to Johnson.

“I can tell you, as of last night, that number has clearly dropped significantly,” he said.

Additionally, hotels and restaurants have been gearing up, making sure they had enough supplies for a busy weekend.

“Some of them have already gotten those supplies in,” Johnson said. “You have to adjust, because you’re not going to have that influx of customers that are coming through.”

The chamber itself is not yet canceling events.

“We actually had one this morning, but it was much smaller than what they were going to have for Founders’ Day,” Johnson said.

The Elkhart County Convention and Visitors Bureau confirmed that hotel reservations have been canceled because of the now non-existent swim meet. Still, canceling the event was the right decision, they said.

“While the Elkhart County region was looking forward to welcoming the Illinois age-group swimming event to downtown Elkhart this weekend, we respect and applaud the decision of the Elkhart Aquatics Center to cancel the event,” the Convention and Visitor’s Bureau said. “Protecting public health with reasonable proactive steps recommended by experts must be the top priority to slow down the spread of the novel coronavirus.”

The organization’s communications director, Terry Mark, said the future of the local hospitality industry is hard to predict.

“A lot of it will depend on just how the situation unfolds and whether there will be continued impact into the rest of the year. We’re hoping not, of course,” he said.

He specifically hopes that events that cannot take place right now will be postponed and bring people to the city in the future instead.

“That would be the best of a bad situation,” Mark said.

Balancing health and social

According to the World Health Organization, the coronavirus poses a greater risk to the elderly. Elkhart County Council on Aging CEO David Toney said his organization is not closing its doors.

“What we’re trying to be is to be precautious and to not freak them out, but at the same time to make sure that they are safe,” he said.

Steps include asking clients whether they have any symptoms or have recently been out of the country before allowing them to have an appointment at the office, which the council is cleaning two to three times a day.

An important service of the council is to transport residents. That will continue, Toney said, and the council is making improved efforts to disinfect its vehicles as well.

As for social gatherings, Toney said their importance to his clients is too great for them to be canceled, at least for now.

“At a senior age, the worst thing that you can do is not to have socialization, and 70 percent of those people, that’s their main socialization for the week,” he said. “What we’re telling them is wash your hands, be cautious. If you want to wear gloves, we have them.”

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(19) comments


Looks like you stepped in it again Joe, facts are facts right. Too many people died because the staffer Obama put in charge was very late with any response. Yeah, thanks for nothing Obama.

Joe King

you forgot to add Benghazi and Hilary's email in that comeback...


Just read your response about deaths from H1N1 in 2009. In 2009 59 million Americans contracted H1N1! 265,000 were hospitalized! Over 12,000 died! Ebola deaths...c'mon Joe! Only 11 cases were ever documented in the US. I believe 9 survived. And possibly 7 of those Ebola patients came from Africa.

Joe King

And you would think that we would have learned and improved our system....we did....but 2018, Trump administration fired the pandemic response team....that's great learning... but the biggest difference you forgot to mention....the swine flu had a mortality rate of 0.02%. Not even close.....I trust the CDC, health care professionals, scientist, etc. Please get your information from them, and not Hanity or Rush...wash your hands, be a barrier and not a carrier.


Sorry Joe! Unlike your news gathering habits. I choose not to use Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon and Whoopie Goldberg and crew from "The View"! I actually use the computer to research through differing venues. So a March 12, 2020 story from Factcheck. org quotes the CDC as saying funding was NOT reduced for pandemic work! In fact funding was increased for global health protection which includes global disease detection and emergency response from $58 million fiscal year 2017 to $108 million in years 2018 and 2019. 2020 the CDC was awarded $183 million! So as I watched an idiot like Chuckie Schumer berate the President for closing our borders to certain nations, then comes the clips of 3 well educated experts in pandemic medicine actions say, the President did the exact correct move! Guess who was interviewing the 3 experts! Ms pursed lips from CNN! She asked if the President did the prudent action. All 3 said definitely. I thought she was going to explode. Kind of like the old rule for lawyers. Never ask a question you don't know the answer! Thanks Joe!

Joe King

Facts matter:

1. Trump and his administration fired the pandemic response team in the CDC back in 2018. Listen to his botched response to that question in his press conference yesterday...

2. Trumps proses budget he submitted proposed cuts for the next year. The budget hasn’t been approved, but he still submitted those proposed cuts.

Joe King


Did you complain about the Obama/Biden responses to the swine flu and Ebola scares? I thought not. You are complaining about the Coronavirus response because you hate the President. The Governors of both California and New York have praised the work of the Trump/Pence team’s response giving both men a thank you for the job they are doing. Think about that Joe. What do they know that your liberal press has not told you, Parrot.

Joe King

Hey many Americans died from the swine flu in the us? How many Americans died from Ebola in the us? Yeah thought so...thanks Obama! Your biased blinders are on so tight you can’t even see reality for what it really is...only what fox propaganda tells you....we are not even at the peak in the us yet..trump and his administration own this...


Rasmus why do you continue to let Joe King push his obvious lies in this forum. It is almost like you agree with him. He is a political hack and the Truth is his lackey. This is serious stuff and you should be ashamed and apologize to your readers.

RasmusSJorgensen Staff

Thank you for asking.

I gave this some thought before letting those comments through because it is not clear that the president said that the coronavarius is a hoax. "This is their new hoax," he said. So yes, a reasonable interpretation is that he was talking about what he sees as his opponents using the pandemic to their advantage. But what does that mean? I don't know. I think it's unclear what he meant exactly, so I'm not going to get in the way of your interpretation of it, and I appreciate that you can discuss it.

Joe King

Words matter... actions too. You can pull videos and sound clips of everyone i mentioned saying it. Words matter. Because you don't like it or angry when it comes back, you claim it as false, alternative, or interpret it differently towards your bias. But it doesn't change the facts, the current situation or what other medical and professional scientist have all said. It doesn't change the fact that it is now a pandemic with the earliest known case in the US 2 months ago. The only thing that I said that should be changed is the new number of total tests done to date as it was just reported around +/- 13,000...that's still FAR below what other countries have been testing daily....Facts are facts.


And BS is BS. You know.he was referring to the corrupt liberal press blaming him for either not doing enough or doing too much about the virus. The hoax was used in the same context as the the Russian hoax and the Ukraine phone call hoax. Your hatred is eating you up and warping you're mind.

Joe King

Sidearm...corrupt liberal press..really? Like fake news? There is no such thing as’s either news or not..real or not...just because you don’t like what was reported or even what trump dismiss it as sticking your head in sand and claiming it dark outside...get a grip and face facts...and reality like a big person would....

Joe King

Has the truth been able to investigate how many test have been done in Michiana? Indiana? It seems a little disingenuous to report “none so far” when testing is not available. Trump, his administration, the compliant GOP, and fox propaganda (Hanity), and Rush Limbaugh all saying this is a hoax and a democratic conspiracy all contributed to delaying and having test readily available. When other countries are able to do 15,000-25,000 test a day and we have only been able to do a total of +/- 5000 nation wide so far is embarrassing and deadly. Their lack of trust and belief in the science and health professionals has contributed to this, Their lack of free and open communication

and making coranavirus discussions classified is not helping. Please listen to health professionals and not politicians, wash your hands, and vote each and every one out this November.


Yes Joe, go ahead and make this political. You and your liberal friends will pay the price for this in November.

(Edited by staff.)

Joe King

Call me me me anti what? Is that how you defend this administration? Is that how you justify what is going on? When politics get in the way of science and facts, this is what happens.... will you still call it a hoax when someone you know test positive Or dies? Trump owns this and those that enabled him are just as guilty...wash your hands,listen to science and health care professionals, be a barrier and not a carrier.


Poor Joe! I couldn't believe a human could swallow a parrot. Let alone a DemonRatic parrot. Trump NEVER said the covid19 virus was a hoax! He said...the Dems political usage of the covid19 virus was a hoax like Russian collusion and the Ukraine debacle. So Joey wanna CRACKER NOW!

Joe King

Thank you for agreeing with me. I know it is tough to admit that the Democratic Party cares more about the Americans and the pandemic. Perhaps if Trump didn't cut the funding and dismiss the pandemic staff from the cdc back in 2018 we would have had a better start...but that is assuming trump and the GOP decided to listen to scientist and doctors.... But we all know he is the smartest and healthiest ever president.....Trump called it a hoax, and that he caught it early and we only have 15 people....and will disappear soon.. I think the families that have already lost people would strongly say it is not a hoax. The mass burial pits in Iran, visible from space because of the virus, is not a hoax, the death count climbing in Italy as doctors struggle to treat victims of the virus would probably disagree... but keep getting your news and info from Fox, hanity and the propaganda tv, while the ENTIRE world deals with this pandemic... The virus has no green card, no visa, does not know borders or walls.... I can only imagine you are in the "at risk" category.....thoughts and prayers? Is that the right thing to treat it?

Listen to health care professionals and scientist, wash your hands, and remember in November who was in charge of this debacle...

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.