Louisville mayor says city libraries, parks, zoo to close temporarily

Metro has 3 confirmed and 1 presumptive case of COVID-19

LOUISVILLE (March 14, 2020) – Mayor Greg Fischer today announced a temporary closure, effective immediately, of all 17 Louisville Free Public Library locations, 13 community centers, the Mary T. Meagher Aquatic Center and some indoor Zoo attractions. Additionally, two historic homes operated by Louisville Metro Parks & Recreation – Historic Locust Grove and Riverside, the Farnsley-Moremen Landing – will close for tours and programs; the grounds at both sites will remain open to the public.

According to Governor Andy Beshear, there are three confirmed cases and one presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in Louisville, and 16 total in  Kentucky.

Dr. Lori Caloia, the city’s Medical Director, added “You have the power to stop this illness. The sooner social distancing is put in place, the sooner the COVID-19 outbreak runs its course and the more lives are saved.”

Libraries

Effective tomorrow, Sunday, March 15, all 17 Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL) locations will be temporarily closed to the public. LFPL patrons are encouraged to check out eBooks, eMagazines, and downloadable audiobooks, and stream movies and music online at LFPL.org.

Students working on schoolwork are encouraged to take advantage of online Research Tools.

“We’re taking this difficult step to protect the health and safety of our library staff and our library patrons,” Mayor Fischer said. “This decision is informed by the recommendation of health experts, as well as the Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives, which yesterday recommended the temporary closure of public libraries in the state.”

“The health and safety of our library staff and the tens of thousands of patrons we serve is paramount,” Library Director Lee Burchfield said. “As we take steps to close our physical libraries, we encourage everyone to take advantage of the many digital books, movies, research tools, and other resources we offer online to help keep our minds active and engaged during this difficult time.”

LFPL made the decision last week to suspend charging fines on overdue books and materials, and that will continue. The library is asking patrons to hold onto library materials until the libraries reopen and not to drop them off at library facilities.

For temporary renewal of library account, please call (502) 574-1611.

Community Centers

At the close of business today, Saturday, March 14, the city’s 13 community centers will be temporarily closed to the public through April 5.

The Wilderness Louisville Senior Center closed at the end of business Friday, March 13.

The closings will not impact the Metro Office of Resilience and Community Services’ plans to use five of the centers to distribute 26,000 frozen meals to people over 60 over the next three weeks, starting on Tuesday. Seniors can get five meals at a time and return the following week for another five meals.

Five community centers will be open solely for the purpose of meal distribution:

• Shawnee Community Center
• Beechmont Community Center
• Sun Valley Community Center
• Wilderness Road Senior Center
• Arthur S Kling Community Center

Meals also will be available at the East Government Center. For more information, call (502) 574-5050.

Parks

At the close of business today, the Mary T. Meagher Aquatics Center will be temporarily closed to the public through April 5.

The city’s 10 municipal golf courses will remain open. Contact the course to make a tee time. Parks will not be accepting rentals of facilities and shelters through April 5. All rentals through April 5 were canceled by the close of business Friday, March 13. Those with rental agreements through Louisville Parks and Recreation will have the option of a refund or a rescheduled date.

The city’s 120 parks, including its 18 Olmsted-designed parks and the 6,700-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest, will remain open with no restrictions on access. Jefferson Memorial Forest’s Welcome Center also will be open to the public. Parks employees are increasing cleaning protocols and implementing social distancing.

“As Metro Health and Wellness has suggested, a walk in the park or a hike with your family is a great way to spend time together and get some needed exercise,” said Dana Kasler, Director of Parks and Recreation. “We’re blessed in Louisville with an abundance of great parks and outdoor spaces, and I hope everyone can find some time to take advantage of them as this situation unfolds.

With milder weather on the way, those who are healthy and able are encouraged to get outdoors for some exercise and fresh air. The city maintains approximately 70 miles of marked hiking trails, 60 miles of paved exercise paths, and nearly 13,000 acres of land to enjoy.

Louisville Zoo

Starting tomorrow, the Louisville Zoo will close all high traffic indoor exhibits, playgrounds, rides and attractions and will temporarily halt its volunteer program.

Impacted exhibits include Gorilla Forest, Islands, HerpAquarium and the MetaZoo. The Zoo’s trams, carousel, pony and camel rides, Boma Petting Zoo, Wallaroo Walkabout and the Zoo’s gift shop will also be closed.

“Everyone’s health and safety is our primary concern,” said Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. “As an outdoor attraction, the Zoo offers opportunities for social distancing and we want to offer a place for families to enjoy while they practice that social distancing. To ensure even greater opportunities to enjoy yet keep a distance, we are closing our indoor exhibits and rides and attractions. We will continue to monitor the news and follow any updated recommendations and adapt accordingly.”

Outdoor exhibits will remain open.

“As with other closures we’ve announced,” Fischer said, “we plan to reassess the status of all these locations and facilities as we get closer to April 5.”

The Louisville Metro Department of Health and Public Wellness is urging everyone to take the following actions:

Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue.
Avoid contact with sick people, and stay home if you are sick.
Call your healthcare provider if you are concerned that you have contracted COVID-19.
Rather than shaking hands, for the time being, greet each other with an elbow bump.
And, if you have questions, please call the Kentucky Coronavirus hotline at 1-800-722-5725, or visit Kycovid19.ky.gov.