March 14, 2020 at 2:13 p.m.

March 14th: Local, state coronavirus updates

Bartholomew County COVID-19 Coalition Press Release

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact the State of Indiana and Bartholomew County, the COVID-19 Community Task Force met today in response to Governor Holcomb’s most recent recommendations.

The COVID-19 Task Force prioritizes the health and safety of our community, workforce and citizens while also playing an active role in supporting local health officials and government leaders as they work to contain the virus. Through that lens, we will continue to make decisions using the latest science-based information and with careful consideration, understanding that any actions taken impact our entire community.

Under the direction of Dr. Brian Niedbalski, Bartholomew County Health Director and Columbus Regional Health, we are preparing to respond quickly to any emerging situation, leveraging the considerable insights gained from observations of other communities across the nation. This is a proactive measure to act early and assertively in an effort to reduce not only the number of potential cases of COVID-19 our community sees, but to also significantly reduce the flow and mitigate as much as possible a swell of cases occurring in our area.

This recommendation comes from the informed perspective and guidance of not only our local health experts, but those on a national level. Communities are being charged to proactively respond with concerted measures in an effort to best and most effectively protect their residents and preserve medical resources for the greatest need.

Anyone with concerns about symptoms of COVID-19 or exposure should contact the COVID-19 Resource Call Center 812-379-4449 BEFORE seeking medical attention. Those experiencing a medical emergency should call 911.

As a task force, we are collectively recommending the following actions, effective immediately for our community:

  • Non-essential gatherings must be limited to no more than 250 people. This includes any event or gathering of people who are in one room or a single space at the same time, such as cafeterias, churches, stadiums, meeting and conference rooms, auditoriums and the like. This guidance applies to professional, social, community and similar other gatherings. Faith-based communities are recommended to suspend all in-person services and large group gatherings from now through Saturday, April 4.
  • Bartholomew County School Corporation will suspend all school-related activities beginning Monday, March 16. Schools will be closed and eLearning days utilized from Monday, March 23 through Friday, April 3.
  • The City of Columbus will close the following public facilities: The Commons, Donner Center, Hamilton Community Center and Ice Arena, Columbus Gymnastics Center and The Cal Brand Meeting Room within City Hall.

These facilities will close at the end of business today and will follow the school schedule and reopen Monday, April 6.  All other City services and offices will remain open to the public and continue to serve the community. We encourage the public to call or email City staff and departments to conduct business.

  • Child care and adult day care facilities should institute social distancing and minimize large gatherings. Temporary suspension of operations should be done in consultation with the Family and Social Services and ISDH in the instance of documented community spread.
  • Individuals over 60 years of age or those with a known underlying health issue such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or chronic respiratory disease should limit their public exposure. Whenever possible, friends and family should arrange to provide food and other essential items.
  • Those who run senior centers and congregate meal services should consider suspending congregate meals services and arrange for home delivery
  • Businesses should consider utilizing telework policies, if available.

It is our intent to continue to provide the latest information throughout this evolving situation. For information on the preventative measures in place by individual entities or for more information, following the below links.

Indiana Department of Health – Latest information from ISDH

Cummins Engine Company – Cummins employees can access company information HERE.

Columbus Regional Health -

Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation -

City of Columbus -

Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives -

CDC – When and How to Wash Your Hands

CDC - El lavado de las manos: Las manos limpias salvan vidas

ISDH Online COVID-19 Case Tracker -

Bartholomew County Sheriff press release

Beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020, 7 a.m., the Bartholomew County Jail is suspending all visitation until further notice.  Only attorneys, DCS and those with court orders will be permitted in the jail.

The money Kiosk for inmate commissary funds, which is located in BCJ’s front lobby, is closed until further notice.  Money can still be placed in inmate accounts online at or by phone: 866-345-1884.  The company accepts Visa and other charge cards in lieu of cash.  If you have any questions, you may contact the company directly.

Only essential items (keys, wallets, etc.) will be released on weekends until further notice.

Inmates are being screened per state and national procedures.  Separate housing has been made available for new incoming inmates.

Security service will remain available at the Bartholomew County Courthouse.

Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers has been in contact with state and national officials including Congressman Greg Pence who is in Washington D.C. monitoring the situation and who briefed the Sheriff within the past two hours.

“BCSO is working with the courts to implement alternative means (e.g. video court) and will be cutting back on transports to eliminate possible exposure to our staff and inmates, said Bartholomew County Jail Commander John Martoccia.

Work Crews have been suspended until further notice.

Chief Deputy Major Chris Lane says that BCSO’s Road Patrol and Jail Divisions have a plan for staff shortages up to 40%.

“Our leadership team has been very proactive in providing a plan that will work for our agency and for citizens of Bartholomew County”, said Sheriff Myers. “The crisis that we are seeing, will not give criminals in Bartholomew County a “pass card”.  “I assure you, we will continue with all Sheriff’s Office and Jail services”, added Sheriff Myers.

Employees have been given proper protective gear.

“We are evaluating what services require an on scene police presence verses those that can be handled by alternative means such as by phone or online”, said Chief Deputy Major Chris Lane.

The city and county are working together and we are in constant contact with state and national health officials.  This virus is moving quickly but please remain calm – we have measures in place to continue law enforcement services to the residents of Bartholomew County.

Governor's Holcomb's Friday announcement

Governor Eric J. Holcomb today announced additional steps the state is taking to help Hoosiers who are impacted by the novel coronavirus COVID-19 to reduce the spread of the virus. As of noon today, the state has 12 Hoosiers who have tested presumptively positive for COVID-19.

Under Gov. Holcomb’s direction:

  • All state agencies are evaluating rules and regulations that should be suspended or modified to assist Hoosiers during this public emergency.
  • Hoosiers who need to renew their Medicaid eligibility will get more time to complete the process. No services will be interrupted.
  • Family Social Services Administration (FSSA) has asked federal officials to approve a request to temporarily waive the renewal process for Hoosiers who need SNAP or TANF benefits.
  • Hoosiers on Medicaid will not pay co-pays for COVID-19 testing. More information is here.
  • Hoosiers on Medicaid can get 90-day refills of medication for chronic conditions.
  • State officials are collaborating with the Indiana Department of Education to discuss solutions regarding student assessments and meals for children whose schools have closed. DOE issued this guidance for schools regarding the 20-day waiver of the required 180 instructional days that Gov. Holcomb announced on Thursday.
  • FSSA has given daycares specific guidance to protect children in their care. The latest guidance is here.
  • Community meals for senior citizens are being converted to home meal deliveries. Local partners, such as Area Agencies on Aging, have been given funding flexibility to cover the added costs of delivering meals. Thousands of meals are being served daily.
  • Every community has a child care resource and referral agency to connect parents with local child care options and provide referrals for support. Families can find their local Child Care Resource and Referral by calling 800-299-1627 or by consulting this map.
Gov. Holcomb is in constant contact with federal officials and the Indiana State Department of Health to monitor the situation and redirect state resources as needed as the state works to slow the spread of the virus.