MICHIGAN CITY — Over 200 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in La Porte County over the weekend, and a small number of those have forced the shutdown of City Hall in Michigan City.
On Sunday, Mayor Duane Parry announced that three cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed among City Hall employees.
That prompted a decision to “close City Hall, not only to the public, but also to Michigan City employees who regularly work there,” the mayor said in a statement.
All employees with workstations in City Hall will be working from home through at least Friday, and the building will be deep cleaned and sanitized this week, Parry said.
“Upon becoming aware of the infections, contact tracing immediately began,” Parry said. The mayor and “key administration employees who were most at risk were tested for COVID on Saturday,” he said.
All employees not tested on Saturday will be testing early this week.
The mayor said he tested negative, and as of Sunday, three employees had tested positive, all of whom are now quarantined.
Also over the weekend, Parry signed an executive order mandating that all city government meetings return to virtual formats, with the exception of the Water Department, Sanitary District and Port Authority, though the mayor “urged” those entities to adopt similar policies.
He said all councils, boards and commissions should conduct “only necessary business” and vote on “such matters needing immediate attention.”
When in-person meetings resume, all such will be specifically listed and in-person votes conducted to reaffirm the actions. The order takes effect Wednesday and will remain in effect until further notice.
In his order, Parry cited said the COVID infection rate and death rate in the city, county and state “continue to rise at an alarming rate” and the county remains in the state’s orange spread risk category.
“I believe it to be in the best interest of the residents ... that city government meetings be conducted by virtual means so long as ... permitted under the governor’s executive order.”
He also ordered the closure of the Michigan City Senior Center, where meetings had been held, until further notice.
Parry said he will keep the public notified of further developments, and reminded residents of the free COVID-19 testing available at the Michigan Township Trustee’s Office at 2601 E. Michigan Blvd.
Also on Sunday, the South Shore Line announced it will require all passengers and employees to wear face masks on trains and in stations, and discontinue mask-optional cars.
“The SSL will strictly enforce the mask mandate at stations and on trains,” a statement from NICTD said. “Passengers who do not comply with the order will be subject to removal from trains.
“In accordance with the revised executive order and the new enforcement provisions, the SSL will discontinue use of the ‘mask noncompliance’ car, effective immediately.”
The only passengers exempt will be those with medical or health issues, and children under the age of 8.
Passengers were also reminded to continue to maintain 6 feet of social distance from other individuals onboard all trains and at stations.