South Bend mayor announces disaster emergency declaration, travel advisory

SOUTH BEND, Ind.—On Thursday, South Bend Mayor James Mueller, along with county commissioners, announced the declaration of a local disaster emergency and a travel advisory amid concerns over community spread of COVID-19.

The declaration and travel advisory goes into effect 2 p.m. on March 19 until further notice.

The travel advisory means essential travel only

  • 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
  • Animal care
  • Visits to outdoor recreational facilities
  • Vehicle maintenance and repairs
  • Getting home repair necessities

“The best advice I’ve heard is act like you have the virus,” Mueller said, asking that community members now stay home whenever possible.

The City of South Bend as well as unincorporated parts of St. Joseph County are included under the travel advisory. Other individual municipalities like Mishawaka and New Carlisle have their own discretion in terms of setting a travel advisory. 

The disaster emergency declaration will allow funds to be used to purchase emergency supplies and prepare for the spread of the coronavirus. Mueller said the Common Council on Monday will consider an additional appropriation of $500,000 to prepare for the spread of the virus.

Mueller also said that options for facilities for vulnerable residents are being explored.

During the press conference, Mueller, alongside local lawmakers, announced that the city is rolling out a digital tool for City of South Bend residents to use during these uncertain circumstances.

The tool provides access to resources like child care support, at-home education activities, donations and volunteer opportunities, food support, and more.

Access the city’s coronavirus support tool here.

Rep. Jackie Walorski also mentioned the group's support for the federal relief package that President Donald Trump signed into law on Wednesday that includes provisions for COVID-19 testing and paid emergency leave.

Shortly after the announcement, Transpo said that it will be operating under its normal schedule but asks that riders only travel under the outlined circumstances.

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