Jefferson County Health Department Issues Additional Mitigation Measures to Decrease the Spread of COVID-19

April 5, 2020

 

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Jefferson County Indiana Residents and Essential Businesses,

We are in the midst of one of the most significant pandemics in over 100 years. The Covid-19 virus has spread across the globe with lightning speed and now has arrived at our very doorstep. Several areas of the country have become hot spots where the infection rate has spiraled out of control. In the United States alone, there have been over 8,000 deaths from Covid-19 in just 6 weeks. Orders to combat this disease have been given by both the president of the United States and the governor of Indiana. We are now at a critical juncture in this pandemic where we have a small window of opportunity, through mitigation, to slow the infection rate and decrease the death toll in Jefferson County. As the health officer of the Jefferson County Health Department, it is incumbent upon me to initiate emergency mitigation measures to protect the health and well-being of Jefferson County citizens during this crisis. These measures will not be without inconvenience or financial impact, but they are necessary, nonetheless, for the good of all.

These difficult decisions were made only after consultation with and collective input from City of Madison officials, Jefferson County officials, City and County law enforcement, the Jefferson County attorney, the City of Madison attorney and the Town of Hanover attorney. We also included the management of Lowes, Wal-Mart and Kroger in some of these discussions. These major corporations are among the few selected businesses in Madison which have been deemed “essential”, and as such, are allowed to remain open even as we are under a mandatory “stay at home” order. But “essential businesses”, while serving essential functions, are also high traffic areas which, during this time of mandated isolation, have also become places where people are congregating for non-essential reasons. This type of close social contact is precisely what we have been ordered by the state and federal government to prevent, if we are to decrease the spread of Covid-19.

With this in mind, we are asking all “essential” retail businesses to incorporate the following into their daily business practices effective midnight, April 5, 2020 until further notice. With everyone’s cooperation, we will come out on the other side of this crisis stronger than ever.

1. Essential retail businesses that are high volume should NOT allow no more than 5 customers for each 1,000 square feet at a given time. Businesses will be responsible to try to monitor this the best they can. Essential businesses that are not deemed high-volume also need to look at decreasing their in-store traffic.

2. Enact a policy of ONE CART ONE PERSON. Exclusion would of course be made for a single parent who needs to shop for essential items.

3. Sell essential items only. This is a very difficult subject as everyone has their own definition of essential items. We ask businesses to use their best judgement on this and remember the main goal is to do what is necessary to limit foot traffic and discourage “browsing” 

4. Adjust store layout to enable shoppers to stay 6 feet apart at all times

5. Utilize employees to “direct traffic” to avoid shoppers from congregating in aisles.

6. Consider making aisles one-way.

7. Place signage to encourage on-line pick up shopping.

8. Consider offering separate shopping times to at-risk or elderly customers.

9. Sanitize carts and baskets as they are returned to the store. Do not allow customers to bring carts in from parking lot.

10. Provide employees with gloves that must be routinely replaced with proper hand washing in between glove changes. Provide mask for employees working near the public.

11. Screen employees for illness and mandate employees stay home if they are ill. 

12. Provide hand sanitizer stations for customers upon entry and exit of the store. This could be motion detected hand sanitizer dispensers or hand sanitizer wipes.

Steps we are asking Jefferson County residents to take effective midnight Sunday, April 5, 2020, until further notice:

1. Shopping should be focused. QUICK IN AND QUICK OUT.

2. Touch only what you are going to buy.

3. Limit your trips by buying what you need for two weeks, but please do not hoard. 

4. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you leave your home and soon as you return home.

5. Consider using hand sanitizer after touching high touch areas in the store, such as freezer handles.

6. Use store curbside pickup, online ordering, and/or telephone ordering when available.

7. Partner with friends and family. If you only need a few items have a friend or family pick up for you and leave it at your doorstep.

8. Clean your purchases. Consider anything you bring home as contaminated. It is not fully understood how long the virus can live on certain surfaces. Leave non-perishable items in your garage or porch for 3 days.

9. Wash your hands thoroughly after putting groceries away.

10. Sanitize countertops after putting groceries away.

11. CDC recommendations: wear a mask, scarf or bandana when out in public, or at work, if co-workers work nearby.

12. Limit your contacts to those people you live with, or work with. Avoid visiting family and friends outside your household during the remainder of the “stay at home” mandate.

We would like to commend those essential businesses that have already enacted the above measures. We, along with other enforcement agencies, will be monitoring the situation to determine if further restrictions and enforcement are needed.

Please remember we are a small community…your customers, your co-workers and your employees are also your neighbors, your friends and perhaps even your family. At a time like this we are all literally dependent on each other for not only our financial survival, but our personal survival as well. Thus, it is crucial that we stay mindful of the impact our own behavior will have on so many others and choose to make some sacrifices today for the chance of a better tomorrow. I want this all to be over as much as the rest of you do, but when it is over, I want my family and friends to still be here to enjoy the summer with me. Please do the right thing and implement these potentially lifesaving measures immediately. We are asking our community to understand and appealing to the “better angels of our nature”

Sincerely,

John Hossler, M.D.

Health Officer

Jefferson County Health Department