Henry County and New Castle orders are more restrictive than the state-level orders.

Henry County residents need to stay inside their own homes as much as possible until May 23, which is two months from the date of the local emergency ordinance.

“I think that (the date) was probably the biggest issue. ‘My gosh! Why is it 60 days out?’” said Angela Cox, the Henry County Health Department administrator. “We wanted to give ourselves an ample amount of leeway.”

The situation at the national, state and local level has changed almost daily since COVID-19 lit America on fire.

“The COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving and the Henry County Health Department is constantly evaluating the county’s status. Information from the CDC, Indiana State Department of Health, and our own county data guide us to make decisions that will see us through this,” Cox said.

She wants Henry County businesses and workers to know the Health Department and the elected officials are listening. They hear the worries and concerns about what this shutdown will do to local families.

“We are not out to shut their businesses down. I hear them loud and clear. This is people’s livelihoods we’re talking about,” she said.

Cox has a team of people working to answer questions from local small business owners and a group working with larger local employers.

The goal is to figure out how the Henry County Health Department can work with all of them to give them guidance (if they can stay open) about social distancing and protecting themselves, their families and the public, Cox said.

Gov. Holcomb’s executive order included a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers” as part of the “essential businesses and operations.” Cox has been going over that list to see which Henry County businesses, if any, fit that criteria and can justify being open during the local “Orange”-level travel restrictions.

Business owners can email direct questions to the Henry County Health Department at health.department@henrycounty.in.gov.

Local leaders have the ability to drop the travel advisory earlier, if they think it is safe.

Cox intends to update elected officials regularly about the whole picture here in Henry County.

“As soon as we can lift anything, we will absolutely do that,” Cox said.

What happens next?

The coronavirus outbreak is not like any other natural disaster Henry County has faced before. It is not 9/11 or a tornado down the middle of town.

This is not going to be a COVID-19 “blizzard” that clears up in a weekend; it is going to be a COVID-19 “winter” that could last months.

“This is not just going to be over in two weeks,” Cox said.

She’s trying to prepare the community for life after the restrictions, when the 2019 novel coronavirus could still easily kill the most vulnerable people.

“We can’t stay at home forever. We can’t do that,” she said. “When we’re ready to come back into the swing of things, how do we alter our jobs, how we come to work... so that we don’t have a relapse and a new outbreak?”

The answer: Social Distancing. Stay away from other people.

“We’ll probably have to do that for a while,” Cox said.

More information can be found at https://www.in.gov/coronavirus/

“Please take the time to educate yourself so that you make wise choices over the upcoming months,” Cox said.

Statewide email for business, industry questions

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (IEDC) set up a special email address Tuesday morning to field industry questions about Gov. Holcomb’s stay-at-home order.

The Critical Industries Hotline is still available by emailing covidresponse@iedc.in.gov. The center is for business and industry questions only.

There hotline can also be reached at 877-820-0890. As of Tuesday afternoon, the call center was up and running, but experiencing a high volume of calls.

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