Local travel advisory issued in South Bend, St. Joseph County

Published: Mar. 19, 2020 at 10:27 AM EDT
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A travel advisory was imposed Thursday in St. Joseph County and the city of South Bend.

Residents there are being warned not to travel unless they have a good reason.

“This travel advisory will still allow people to travel for essential reasons which includes going to and from work, going to the grocery store, picking up a prescription, visiting the doctors office, dropping your kids off at daycare, picking up food from a restaurant and traveling for emergencies, but traveling to visit friends or going to other places where people congregate is now no longer allowed,” said Mayor James Mueller, (D) South Bend.

The mayor says such travel bans are rare in Indiana. As far as he knows, only Indianapolis has gone that route.

Officials in Mishawaka decided not to issue an advisory, although they encourage residents to stay home.

At this point, violators of the travel advisory won’t be ticketed, but that could happen if the call for voluntary cooperation is ignored.

The move comes after two new coronavirus cases have been confirmed in St. Joseph County.

"That brings the total number of confirmed cases in St. Joseph County now to five. Neither of these individuals have required hospitalization. They both had known contact with a known confirmed case and both individuals have been observing expectations for self isolation since the time of their testing,” said Dr. Mark Fox, St. Joseph County’s Deputy Health Officer.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, Dr. Fox has received results from 126 coronavirus tests. Five came back positive, but he is still awaiting the results of some 500 additional tests.

On Monday the South Bend Common Council will be asked to approve $500,000 to respond in a variety of ways.

"We are exploring with homeless service providers the ability to separate those who come down with the coronavirus and those who don’t to make sure it doesn’t spread throughout the community,” explained the mayor.

Original Story:

A local disaster emergency was declared Thursday in South Bend and St. Joseph County, and it automatically imposed a local travel advisory.

Beginning at 2 p.m. Thursday, only essential travel will be allowed.

Essential travel includes going to and from work, going to the grocery store, picking up prescriptions, visiting a doctor's office, dropping kids off at daycare, picking up food and traveling for emergencies.

Within the local travel advisory, there are 3 stages: 1. Advisory; 2. Watch; 3. Warning.

Thursday's declaration is a Level 2. Watch.

You won't be fined at this level of emergency declaration.

You can be fined if the travel advisory is bumped up to the next level.

The St. Joseph County Emergency Management Agency sent the following additional information late Thursday afternoon:
The intent of the travel restriction is to discourage non-essential travel. It is not the intent to limit travel related to normal daily life occurrences. Essential travel can be defined as, but not limited to, that travel that is necessary to complete those tasks. Examples of daily activities that may fall into the category of essential travel. • Animal Care • Visits to Outdoor Recreational Facilities • Vehicle Maintenance and Repairs • Home Repair Necessities
From South Bend Mayor James Mueller:
Mayor James Mueller announced Thursday an executive order declaring a local disaster emergency and declaring a local travel “watch” advisory, urging residents to avoid non-essential travel to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The measure will still allow residents to travel for essential functions, like going to and from work, dropping kids off at daycare, going to the grocery, picking up a prescription, going to the doctor’s office, going to the bank, going to court, and other essential functions. Mayor Mueller asks that residents limit their interaction with others and try to access the different services they use remotely rather than in person. “What’s important right now is that we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community. By avoiding unnecessary travel you can play your role in protecting the vulnerable members of our community,” said Mayor James Mueller. “Please follow these directions. These measures only work if everyone follows them.” Residents are encouraged to continue to go outside for walks, bike rides, and other activities while still maintaining extreme social distance from others. In addition to the travel advisory, Mayor Mueller also announced the creation of a new tool to connect residents with vital resources and support, available on the city’s website at