MUNCIE, Ind. — In an open letter to Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, Delaware County Health Officer Donna Wilkins warned that the state’s orders meant to promote social distancing and limit the spread of coronavirus were not doing so.
Wilkins stated in a Facebook post on Thursday that the state’s orders for what constituted “essential services” that could remain open were weaker than those designated by Delaware County officials earlier, and were encouraging more people to go about life as usual rather than remain at home to limit contact.
Delaware County officials on March 23 pleaded for businesses to stop trying to find a way around orders for non-essential businesses to close temporarily, even though they acknowledged the state’s declaration was more lenient than the one local officials had approved the week before.
The reasons behind her criticism aimed at the statewide order echoed a similar Facebook post by Delaware County Health Administrator Jammie Bane, who directed his ire at local residents and businesses for not taking warnings more seriously, and for going out and conducting business as normal and thereby increasing the risk of more people being infected with the potentially fatal virus.
Wilkins’ full letter posted to Facebook reads:
“I am writing to you today as Delaware County Health Officer to voice my concerns of the Orders you placed about the COVID-19 and the ‘Essential Services.’ We here in Delaware County had already written our plan with the County Commissioners, Emergency Management and the Health Department. Our ‘Essential Services’ I feel were less open to debate. I do not see a change in people’s behavior with your orders. They are not ‘sheltering in place’ nor are they ‘social distancing.’ Life seems to go on as usual in Delaware County. People are going to buy mulch and flowers for their yards, taking their children too and not standing six feet apart. Dog grooming is being done, real estate listings are being completed and homes are being shown, children are being taken to playgrounds and cars are being sold, just to mention a few. All of these are allowed based on your orders.
“As Dr. Jerome Adams has stated numerous times we MUST stay home. Unless the ‘Essential Services’ are more stringent and without loopholes that exist now I don’t see us able to ‘flatten the curve. I would be happy to email you what we had in place before your orders or talk with you to discuss this issue.
“Respectfully, Donna A. Wilkins, MD, Delaware County Health Office”
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