Community coalition working to keep Columbus safe, informed

In Bartholomew County, a coalition of city, county, business and health officials are monitoring the spread of the coronavirus in an effort to keep the community informed and protected from the disease.

Kelsey DeClue, spokeswoman for Columbus Regional Health explains that the Community COVID-19 Coalition formed a few weeks ago. It is an integrated approach to share information, communication methods and that everyone is on the same page to share those preparations with the community.

Organizations taking part include Columbus Regional Health, the  Columbus Mayor’s Office, Bartholomew County Health Department, Bartholomew County Emergency Management, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp.,  Cummins Inc., Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, Columbus Area Economic Development and Bartholomew County Commissioners.

DeClue explains that the goal is to scale up from preparedness and awareness to an actual response when the virus appears here. DeClue said at this point there have been no instances in Bartholomew County, although three tests were positive yesterday in Johnson County.

“It is important that the community to remember that as of right now, now this situation is constantly evolving, but we are in that preparation and planning mode,” she said. “The importance of not panicking unnecessarily but remaining calm and focusing on what the community can do to prepare and what you can do to prepare personally to stay safe, is kind of our main focus right now.”

To continue to be safe, DeClue said we should all be taking common sense precautions such as rigorous hand-washing, covering your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze, cutting down on crowded social situations and sanitizing possibly contaminated surfaces.

“I think it is just that cautious preparedness,” she said. “I think understanding that spring break is coming up, we are going to have a lot of travel. Understanding that while there is still a travel component to COVID-19, it has also been identified as what is called a community spread virus, so travel isn’t necessarily a deciding factor on whether or not you can be exposed to this.”

People should also keep in mind that so far the illness has been very mild in about 80 percent of the cases. But there are groups at greater risk, DeClue said.

“Those with kind of depressed immune systems, are a little bit more of high risk as they would be for the flu or any kind of season illness like this, that need to be on higher alert,” she said.

You can get more information on the coalition and local preparedness through the Bartholomew County Emergency Management website at