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Indiana's Plan To Reopen Could Cause Problems In Louisville, Fischer Says

Starting next week, social and business activity in southern Indiana could look quite different than it will in Louisville. Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has announced plans to permit social gatherings and limited-capacity openings of malls and other retail.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said the city will need to be careful to avoid a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Many Louisville residents work, shop and have friends and family in southern Indiana, and vice versa. Indiana has had nearly four times as many cases as Kentucky, with a population that's about 1.5 the size of Kentucky's.

Kentucky is also on its way to reopening, but appears to be on a slower timeline than Indiana. Fischer encouraged people to continue staying home as much as possible except for essential tasks.

He suggested there are questions about whether reopening the economy could lead to a subsequent spread and spike in cases.

"We've got to avoid that at all costs," he said. "So just want to encourage people to be careful."

It's possible that people may not immediately flock to retail and, later, restaurants, though.

"We've seen that in Georgia this week," he said. "And we've seen in a lot of the national polling that people are really supportive of these these stay at home orders, they understand how deadly this virus is."

He said he would be speaking with the mayors of New Albany and Jeffersonville, as well as leaders of Clark County, to coordinate managing the situation.

Fischer said Louisvillians should celebrate the Kentucky Derby, which would have taken place on Saturday, at home with their families. He said getting together in large groups would be a "dumb idea."

Louisville had 90 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Friday. There have been 1,398 known cases to date, with a recovery rate of about 51 percent. Fischer announced another death related to coronavirus, for a total of 96 since early March.

The mayor also announced he issued an order extending Louisville's state of emergency through June 1, which means basketball courts, social parks, playgrounds and dog parks will remain closed until then. The annual Hike, Bike and Paddle race is canceled as a result, he said.

Amina Elahi is LPM's City Editor. Email Amina at aelahi@lpm.org.