2019 novel coronavirus

Illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control shows the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). The virus was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China.

ELKHART — Officials say they are still unsure how local authorities will enforce new regulations designed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

“We really do want to figure out how we enforce some of the things necessary in order to make sure that our citizens are conscious of how serious this is and how sober we need to be when we look at it,” Mayor Rod Roberson told the City Council on Monday night. “There is still a segment of the population who feels as though this may be a hoax.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb on Monday ordered all restaurants and bars to stop sit-down service.

Roberson has asked city attorney John Espar to look into the city’s options for declaring an emergency and what measures that would give the administration and police.

“We will keep that as a part of another level if we need to,” Roberson said.

The city administration is in discussions with Elkhart County authorities to figure out who will enforce coronavirus-related rules. Elkhart Police Chief Chris Snyder said on Tuesday morning that county Environmental Health Department had not received directions for how to move forward.

In the afternoon, Environmental Health Department manager Karla Kreczmer said she was still waiting for directions from the Indiana State Department of Health on who will have the jurisdiction to prevent in-house dining at restaurants.

She said the department was notified of a couple of restaurants in Elkhart County that had in-house dining on Tuesday. For now, there is no enforcement, but the Environmental Health Department is trying to make restaurants comply.

“We are making contact with people and discussing the directive from the governor and the need to follow that directive when we receive a complaint,” Kreczmer said.

Though no confirmed COVID-19 case have been reported in Elkhart County, Roberson said that is just a question of time.

“But I know that there are some that are in the funnel as we speak, and the county Health Department has indicated that we may see one confirmed case or maybe a few by the end of the week,” he said.

All school corporations in Elkhart County announced last week that they would close their doors and move to online learning.

At City Hall, most chairs in the Council Chambers had been moved to the side for the council meeting, and the remaining seats were spread out in the room with at least 6 feet between them.

The attempt to prevent the spread of coronavirus at the meeting also had City Council members sitting farther apart than normal. As the meeting must be public, the city courtroom, also at City Hall, had been designated an overflow area where people could follow a live stream and send questions to the council via the Mayor’s Office. The live stream could also be followed on the city’s Facebook page.

The Mayor’s Office had wanted to live stream council meetings since before the coronavirus was a significant concern in the United States, though there was not an intention of launching the stream by Monday. Communications director Corinne Straight-Reed said that is why the stream was not in the quality that she is hoping to get in time. Still, for much of the meeting, about 30 people followed along online, while 21 – including nine council members, some department heads, the mayor and two of his staffers, and one reporter – were at the physical meeting. No overflow area was required.

The administration is currently figuring out what city employees can be deemed non-essential, Roberson said.

“Just to make sure that, if we do get to a place that we need to send some of our staff home, we know who absolutely needs to be there in order to provide all the services necessary to keep the city on,” he said.

Non-essential staff that might be sent home would still be asked to work.

“As you well know, there are only very few of our city employees that would be able to work from home,” Roberson said. “We can’t fill a pothole from home.”

Among other steps taken by the city, non-essential board meetings are postponed; City Council, Board of Public Works, Redevelopment Commission and the Parks & Recreation Board are among the bodies that will continue to meet.

City staff has been allowed to go into negative sick time balances and build back their sick time when they return without adversely affecting their biweekly paycheck. Staff is not allowed to travel outside of Elkhart County for work and is encouraged to stop personal trips outside of the county if they are not necessary. Park pavilions are no longer available for rent.

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter at @ReadRasmus

(11) comments


The Coronavirus situation is killing people, changing our life styles and ruining lives. It should never have been allowed to become political but to some people like Joe everything is political. I am done on this forum for awhile as I choose to have a more positive view of our country and not allow Joe’s negativity into my life. As Americans we will get through this and become stronger than ever. God Bless America!!

Joe King

To become political? Thanks Trump! And now we know he was briefed and warned about this deadly virus from our own agencies...BACK IN JANUARY.... Remember this in November. At this time in our country, we need a leader who can speak the truth and display leadership and forethought for all Americans. Remember this when you vote.


OK Rasmus! Business Insider, 3/12 /2020 @ 1:42 PM by Jake Lahut…In a meandering tangent loosely comparing the coronavirus to his impeachment related call with the President of Ukraine and the Russia investigation, Trump argued the opposing party was using a then epidemic (now pandemic) to undermining him politically. I believe the actual statement was as follows..." The Democrats are politisizing the coronavirus". Trump said." One of my people came up to me and said, 'Mr President they tried to beat you on Russia Russia Russia,' That did not work out too well. They could not do it. They tried the impeachment hoax...They tried anything...and this is their new hoax." He never called the coronavirus a hoax! He called the Democrats use of it to damage him "their new hoax."

Joe King



Thankyou Fire, Rasmus is a little lefty when it comes to fact checking.

RasmusSJorgensen Staff

sidearm, I'm fine with your disagreeing with how I moderate comments. Call it incompetence if you will, but know that I am coming at it honestly. It is not about political leanings. You don't know my personal politics, and neither do any of my colleagues. I hardly even discuss it with my wife, because - given my job - I try to not think about what I agree or disagree with. This is very important to me.

Here is President Trump's whole speech from the rally in question. No interpretations from anyone, just the speech. I encourage anyone who is uncertain about what was said to watch it. I've set the video to start at 3:51 for context (but you can overrule that). The comment we are discussing comes about a minute later.


Joe King

Resorting to name calling and saying news is fake and a hoax because you don’t like it has been the typical reaction from trump and the extremist right.....and 3 year olds....

Joe King

No confirmed cases in Elkhart County because there isn’t enough tests in this nation. While trump and his administration claimed they caught it early and was praising himself with his actions while calling it a hoax...he should have been gearing up for this and preparing the country. Other countries warned the US ability it, he didnt take their advice. South Korea had test and were doing 15,000 per day...china’s alibaba founder just donated 500,000 test to us...let that sink in. You can’t fix what you don’t know..wash your hands, listen to scientists and health care professionals, and be a barrier, not a carrier.


I see Rasmus is still allowing you to spread false and misleading information Joker. You are so worried about Mr Trump winning again and blame him for everything. it is getting real old. Rasmus makes a good cheer leader, disgusting.

RasmusSJorgensen Staff

I understand your concern. Like I have explained earlier, I think this is a gray area. The president said, "This is their new hoax," about his opponents' talk of the virus. It's just not clear to me what that means. Something being a hoax would mean that it's not true. So the statement could be interpreted as, "This is their new lie." But what exactly does "This" refer to? The virus? Democrats criticizing the administration's handling of the situation? Possibly, but I just don't know, so I will allow interpretations of this. That does not mean I agree with those interpretations. And I absolutely deny the idea that I'm a cheerleader for any politician or policy. That's not my job, and if I did it anyway, I suspect I would be fired. I completely understand that you disagree with my decision on this. Maybe I have it wrong, but I am coming at it honestly.

Joe King

Let me also add that Fox Propaganda was also cheering for Trump and calling it a hoax too...That is, until they changed their mind 2 weeks later...


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