Businesses re-opening amid COVID-19 case increase

As restaurants begin reopening this week, hospital leaders are preparing for a potential surge in COVID-19 cases.

Posted: May 15, 2020 6:56 PM

GREATER LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — This week is bringing mixed feelings for people as some businesses begin reopening. Starting Monday, May.11, several Greater Lafayette restaurants have opened at 50% capacity but this comes at a time when COVID-19 cases are rising.

Like many Greater Lafayette businesses, Professor Joe's Sports Pub and Pizzeria was hit hard with the effects of having to close so abruptly.

"Had to basically re-invent our business on the fly, create a carry-out and delivery service and there was a learning curve," said Joseph Wenig, owner of Professor Joe's.

When Governor Eric Holcomb announced businesses could re-open at 50%t capacity, Wenig joins a number of owners making sure they'd be ready to reopen safely.

"Of course, there's a lot of uncertainty and even anxiety about what if someone on my staff gets sick, what if one of my customers gets sick, what if someone who is sick comes into the business. I've really relied on the people who are in charge of making the decisions," said Wenig.

In addition to following the state and local regulations, restaurants are coming up with their own unique ways to make sure staff and customers are safe. Customers showing any COVID-19 symptoms will not be permitted in Professor Joe's and everyone must wear masks, except while dining. Wenig said in addition to setting up sanitation stations and separating seats in the restaurant, he is monitoring his associates at the beginning and end of their shift. If they begin showing any signs of symptom they will be sent home immediately.

While many restaurants are following these kinds of guidelines, hospital leaders are still expecting a surge.

"This disease is kind of going to be like a roller coaster," said Dan Neufelder, IU Health Arnett Hospital President, West Central Region. "We've seen that here, we've seen surges in volumes and a little bit of a drop but it hasn't gone away."

Neufelder said it's important people continue being cautious as society re-opens.

"Treat any guidelines as being the minimum standards and then adjust based upon your own situation and the situation of your family," said Neufelder.

IU Health Arnett's Chief Nurse Brian Weirich said the hospital is ready for whatever's to come.

"We monitor those numbers every day, and we're always trying to stay ahead of what we anticipate to see as far as supplies, our staffing and our capacity with the critical care and the non-critical care beds," said Weirich.

The state government, both Mayor's offices, the Tippecanoe County Health Department, and the Indiana Restaurant and Lodging Association have all created strict guidelines for restaurants to follow during this time.

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Data is updated nightly.

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