LOUISVILLE, Ky. (April 3, 2020) – As Louisville heads into another nice spring weekend, Mayor Greg Fischer again stressed the need for everyone to stay close to home and practice safe social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
Although data indicates many Louisvillians are staying home and avoiding crowds, there have been persistent reports of groups gathering in parks, golfers sharing golf carts, and crowds participating in illegal street racing.
“We still get reports of people – of all demographics – gathering in groups,” the Mayor said. “And if that continues, I will close these spaces to everyone. I don’t want to do that. But I absolutely will. This is not about convenience. This is about life and death.”
Mayor Fischer has extended the COVID-19 state of emergency in Louisville to May 10, and recently took the additional step of closing tennis courts, ballfields, and basketball courts in Metro Parks to discourage people from gathering. For now, the parks and the Big Four Bridge remain open for walkers, runners, and cyclists, and city golf courses are allowing golfers to play as long as they maintain social distance.
The mayor said police will start seizing vehicles from people who are participating in street races that have been drawing crowds around the city.
While the city’s hospitals have not yet been overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 patients, the number of confirmed cases continues to rise and the situation could change rapidly, especially if people start to let their guards down and ease up on social distancing.
“We haven’t restricted access to those spaces because we’re trusting the people of our city to make the right choice, the smart choice and the compassionate choice,” the Mayor said. “But social distancing has to be applied in those spaces as well. This is non-negotiable. 6 feet of distance between you and anyone who doesn’t live in your house. All the time. Everywhere.”
TARC implements “essential trips only” policy
With so many Louisvillians depending on TARC buses for access to food and medicine, to get to medical appointments, and to get to work at essential businesses like healthcare facilities and groceries, Mayor Fischer said the transit system has been challenged like never before.
“Our leadership at TARC has been working hard to accommodate the needs of riders with the urgency of preventing the spread of COVID-19,” the Mayor said. “All fixed-route buses and TARC3 vehicles are cleaned and sanitized daily in accordance with CDC guidelines, for example. And today TARC is announcing some updated policies.”
Beginning Friday and continuing until April 30, 2020 (or until Governor Beshear lifts the March 25, 2020, emergency “Stay at Home” order), TARC is limiting ridership to “essential services only.”
Essential trips include:
• Obtaining necessary supplies and services for family or household members and pets, such as groceries, food and supplies for household consumption and use, supplies and equipment needed to work from home, and products necessary to maintain safety, sanitation and essential maintenance of the home; or
• Engaging in activities essential for the health and safety of family, household members and pets, including things such as seeking medical or behavioral health or emergency services and obtaining medical supplies; or
• Caring for a family member, friend, or pet in another household or residence, and to transport a family member, friend or their pet for essential health and safety activities, and to obtain necessary supplies; and
• Employment in essential business services, meaning an essential employee performing work for an essential business as identified by the Governor as “necessary to sustain life.”
Additionally, TARC is asking riders who need to make essential trips to avoid riding the bus during peak travel times of 6-9 a.m. and 2-6 p.m. to give more social distancing space to essential workers heading to and from their jobs.
“TARC continues to monitor the developments of COVID-19 daily,” said Laura Douglas, TARC co-executive director. “We are asking our passengers to limit their trips with TARC to ‘essential trips only’ in an effort to help practice the important measures of social distancing. We provide a crucial service to the community and we take that responsibility seriously; we want to continue to serve that role as effectively as possible with the health and safety of both our passengers and our team members top-of-mind.”
Please visit ridetarc.org and click on the COVID-19 button for details and updates on how TARC is responding.
Red Cross blood drive next week
One major consequence of the COVID-19 crisis has been the cancellation of thousands of American Red Cross blood drives across the country, including here in Louisville. Mayor Fischer said that means that local hospitals, healthcare workers, and patients are facing a critical shortage of blood.
“Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and help out in this crisis. Healthy donors of all blood types are needed,” the Mayor said. “A lot of people are asking, ‘What can I do? How can I help our city? Our healthcare providers?’ Here’s one way – donate blood.”
The American Red Cross is holding a blood drive Wednesday and Thursday (April 8-9) at the KFC Yum! Center in downtown Louisville. To schedule an appointment, go to www.redcrossblood.org and enter sponsor keyword KFCYUM. PARC will provide free parking for donors.
The Red Cross will ensure safe social distancing between donors and maintain its already stringent hygiene and safety protocols.
“While everyone is rightfully focused on fighting COVID-19, other medical emergencies continue and that requires a strong and steady supply of blood for our hospitals,” Mayor Fischer said. “If you can donate blood, I urge you to do it. The Red Cross has implemented measures to ensure that the donation process is as safe as it ever was.”
MSD wants residents help
The COVID-19 crisis has challenged the many, many people who provide vital services to the community, including the Metropolitan Sewer District. Mayor Fischer took time today to highlight the work MSD has been doing to make sure the Louisville sewer system, some of it built before the Civil War, continues to function in good working order 24/7/365.
“One aspect we have to be mindful of during this crisis is how the changes our city has made in response to COVID-19 affect our critical infrastructure, and that includes our sewers,” the Mayor said. “With so many more people at home all day, that can have an impact. Our partners at MSD are working to keep our sewer, drainage and flood protection systems functioning while practicing social distancing and workplace hygiene for their employees.”
MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott said Louisville residents can play an important role in keeping the system running by making sure they flush only items the sewer system was designed to handle. That means the three Ps — poo, pee and toilet paper.
One concern for the sewers is so-called “flushable” wipes, which many of us are using to clean our homes and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Despite the name, these wipes should never be put in the toilet, Parrott said.
“The wipes break down much more slowly than toilet paper,” Parrott explained. “As a result, they build up in the sewer system, clogging lines, damaging pumps and causing backups.”
Wipes should be placed in the trash in the same manner as disposable diapers.
“The work MSD does in operating our sewage treatment, drainage and flood protection facilities is vital to the fight against COVID-19 and many other illnesses,” Parrott said. “So while many businesses have been ordered to shut down, our team must report to work every day to run those systems.”
Online town hall on Saturday
Mayor Fischer was joined by Dr. Jon Klein, vice dean for research at University of Louisville School of Medicine, for an online town hall at 10 a.m. Saturday morning.
Fischer and Dr. Klein offered updates on the COVID-19 situation and answer questions from the public.
Report businesses not complying with shutdown
Although essential businesses are staying open, such as groceries, pharmacies, and restaurants that provide takeout meals, some businesses have been defying the order to close or curtail their activities. Residents who see establishments that refuse to comply can report violators in several ways:
State of Kentucky – 1-833-KY-SAFER / 1-833-597-2337 (tollfree)
City of Louisville – Metro311
Email: [email protected]
On the web: louisvilleky.gov/tell311
App: Louisville Metro 311 on Android or iOS
Due to an increased volume of phone calls, city officials are asking residents to contact Metro311 via the web if possible. Your complaints will still be addressed, and your questions will be answered.