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LAFAYETTE — Tippecanoe County Board of Commissioners President Tracy Brown signed an order Saturday declaring the county a public health emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The purpose of this declaration is to facilitate future financial reimbursement funding assistance, supplies and other assistance as are made available through the state and federal government due to the health emergency,” Brown wrote in a news release published at 6:35 p.m. Saturday.

The declaration is a temporary one and will require the vote of the full board of commissioners in a special meeting next week to extend the emergency declaration beyond seven days, according to the document Brown signed Saturday.

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The order comes after a week when two confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported for two Tippecanoe County residents. The first was tested and hospitalized while traveling in Florida. Tippecanoe County health officials said the second case involved someone who had returned from Paris and was hospitalized at IU Health Arnett in Lafayette. 

Health officials did not release more information about the two patients from Tippecanoe County.

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On Saturday, the Indiana State Department of Health reported the fourth death tied to coronavirus in the state — this one in Delaware County. The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana stood at 126, as of Saturday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health dashboard. The dashboard is updated every day around 10 a.m. Forty-seven new cases were reported Saturday. 

Once adopted by Tippecanoe County commissioners, the emergency would remain in effect until the board of commissioners rescinds it, according to the declaration document.

MORE: Coronavirus: Patient hospitalized in Tippecanoe Co., second case tied to county

The declaration of a health emergency does not affect travel, Brown said.

“There have been many rumors indicating that there will be a full ‘lockdown’ and restrictions on local travel,” Brown wrote in the news release. “There are currently no travel advisories or restrictions in Tippecanoe County. 

“Please continue to get updated information from trusted sources and refrain from spreading unverified information,” Brown wrote in the news release.

“Citizens are reminded to continue to maintain a high level of awareness as to the appropriate measures to protect against the spread of the virus,” Brown wrote. ” ‘Social distancing’ remains our greatest opportunity for success.”

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Brown said the commissioners and Mayors John Dennis and Tony Roswarski thanked the health care community and first responders and many citizens for their work in the COVID-19 crisis. 

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Reach Ron Wilkins at 765-420-5231 or at rwilkins@jconline.com. Follow on Twitter: @RonWilkins2.

Tippecanoe County Health Department sets up coronavirus hotline

The Tippecanoe County Health Department has set up a hotline to address concerns about coronavirus, administrator Khala Hochstedler said. The hotline can be reached at 765-423-9193 and is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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