Mayor James Mueller’s remarks as prepared and delivered on April 3, 2020:
Good afternoon everyone.
First I’d like to thank Jeff Rea for his willingness to serve and step into the newly created COVID-19 Response Coordinator role. As we confront the unprecedented public health and economic emergencies before us, we need all hands on deck to be synchronized in our response.
I also thank the County Commissioners, President Andy Kostielney, and the County Health department for all of the coordination efforts so far. This new formation will enable us to be more efficient and unified, as we also work closely with our state and federal partners.
I would like to highlight some new changes to the City website, which already has a list of resources from organizations and individuals throughout the community. With the help and hard work of Jimena Holguin (pronounced Hemina Holgeen) with the University of Notre Dame’s Center for Social Concerns, we now have a full Spanish-language translation for all of the resources listed on the City site.
In partnership with the St. Joseph County Health Department, we’re also publishing a dashboard that tracks both statewide and county-level cases of COVID-19. This new tool will help us all understand and see where we are in this outbreak.
My team and public servants throughout our community continue to work to solve issues that this pandemic presents. We are working to adapt and prepare for the coming surge in cases and the economic fallout of our distancing measures.
Unlike most other emergencies, there will be no cavalry arriving to reinforce us. Because this is a global pandemic, everyone else is facing the same issues. But our community is strong and ready to take on these challenges together.
I have been encouraged to see an outpouring of support from our community. Sew Loved, Inc., has developed a plan to sew mask covers for our healthcare providers, to help alleviate the supply shortage that exists nationwide.
The South Bend Community School Corporation has adjusted to a new role while continuing to provide necessary meals to our children, and finding a new way to educate them remotely.
There is the work of local businesses like Indiana Whiskey and Tri Pac who shifted their manufacturing processes to make hand sanitizer, which they’ve graciously donated some to our healthcare systems and first responders.
Work like this is what will help us get through this crisis together, and I am so grateful to the many others I haven’t mentioned who are doing their part to help.
It’s especially important to remember and honor the vital work being performed by our first responders and healthcare workers as they help us navigate this pandemic.
So today I’m ordering that beginning tonight, the Riverlights will change to red and white like other landmarks around the country, to recognize their contributions and sacrifices in our fight against COVID-19.
We must continue to recognize their work and the unprecedented challenge that they face. To all of our first responders and healthcare workers, from our firefighters and police officers to our physicians and nurses, I thank you for your work and please know that we will continue to do everything possible to support you.
All of us can do our part to support our neighbors on the frontlines and our neighbors who are most vulnerable by mobilizing at home. It’s imperative that all residents take the Governor’s stay at home order and CDC guidelines for physical distancing seriously.
It is not okay to have in-person group gatherings of any kind. It is not okay to visit with friends and family members outside of your household. Staying home and avoiding contact with others has likely already become a trying experience. But the reality is that it’s the most important thing you can do to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our community.
The choices that you make today and for the next several weeks will determine how many of our neighbors live or die. Please think about that when you’re going about your day. These extreme distancing measures are in place because the only safe assumption and strategy for us is that everyone could be infected and contagious, even without symptoms of illness.
No one knows how long this will continue. For now we find ourselves at the mercy of the virus’s timeline. Mark talked earlier about our local peak hitting in a few weeks from now. That means it’s likely a safe bet that we’ll continue distancing measures through the month of April and at least part of May.
I know this will be difficult, but we’ll find a way together. Thank you for doing your part. I’m proud every day how the residents and businesses of South Bend have risen to the occasion as we confront these unprecedented challenges together.