Health board talks restrictions to schools, venues ahead of Monday decisions

Coronavirus

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – After hours of discussion, the Allen County Board of Health pushed off decisions on restrictions to schools, venues, churches and other businesses due to the spread of coronavirus COVID-19.

Leaders from Fort Wayne Community Schools and Southwest Allen County Schools as well as the Memorial Coliseum, Parkview Field, Embassy Theatre, Clyde Theatre, Turnstone, World Baseball Academy, Visit Fort Wayne, Fort Wayne Komets and others met with the Board of Health Monday to talk about the spread of the coronavirus.

The board considered recommendations for school systems ranging from county-wide closures, to school-by-school closures to establishing the so-called ‘social distancing’ in classrooms. The impacts of school closures on the community were also discussed as word spread of state-wide school closures in Ohio.

A working group of school leaders was set to meet Friday at noon to further discuss options and how to handle potential closures. The decision on the board’s recommendation is expected to be made Monday.

The board also discussed potential recommendations of restrictions on events at large venues around Allen County. Memorial Coliseum General Manager Randy Brown asked for a reasonable amount of time before conditions from the Board of Health are required to be put in place.

The Board of Health also talked with restaurant owner James Kahn, who talked about the thin margins hospitality businesses operate with. He told the board not all would survive a required two week closure, if the Board of Health required that.

Beth Dlug of the Allen County Election Board also joined the board at the table to talk about Primary Election Day set for Tuesday, May 5. She said elections don’t get canceled, and about 80,000 people are expected to vote on that day alone. Early voting is set to begin on April 7.

The Board of Health was split between the urgency to establish restriction recommendations and making sure a thoughtful process happens leading up to decisions. Working groups will meet and talk through the weekend before board members meet Monday evening.

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