Brown County has officially established a task force to help with the response to COVID-19 concerns and questions from residents.
The Brown County COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) has a hotline that can be used to get help with essential needs and emergencies related to food, medicine, transportation and other issues. The hotline is 812-988-0001.
This weekend, the Brown County Emergency Management Association established an emergency operations center with EMA Director Susan Armstrong and Brown County Public Health Preparedness Coordinator Corey Frost leading that effort at the county level.
“We are getting information from the State Department of Health, the CDC and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security daily about this,” Armstrong said.
“We activated the EOC (emergency operations center) out of an abundance of caution to make sure we are meeting the needs of all of our community members during this. Whether we have a case or not, the restrictions that are happening around the state are going to start affecting our community members and we want to make sure we’re meeting the needs going forward of all of those.”
To help meet those needs, a task force was created that would later be named the the Brown County Community Organizations Active in Disaster.
This past weekend, it was identified by EMA that the elderly, at-risk populations, small businesses in Brown County and tourism in Brown County “are going to be the ones that have a lot of questions about how this is affecting them, what they can do to sustain during this time, especially if more restrictions go into place at the statewide level,” Armstrong said.
The Brown County YMCA Executive Director Kim Robinson is leading the COAD task force along with Nashville Town Council President Jane Gore and Brown County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Jane Ellis. The task force now has a Facebook page that is updated often.
The task force has also created multiple subcommittees to look at the different impacts of the COVID-19 threat and the restrictions that have come along with it, Ellis said.
The task force will also work with small businesses to get information to them about the the United States Small Business Administration loans that will be opened up since there has been a federal emergency declaration.
“That task force is going to be the group that is tasked with really finding that information and out disseminating that information to these small businesses that we have in Brown County if they continue to be affected,” Armstrong said.
“That’s huge for us because that’s the majority of what we’re worried about.”
Over the weekend, the EOC identified different areas they need to focus on if the virus spreads to Brown County, like how it would affect social services.
“Social services, what are we going to do? What are their resources? How are they going to be able to continue providing if they start losing volunteers, if volunteers aren’t able to do it?” Armstrong said.
The EOC’s main role is “resource management and just oversight,” Armstrong said.
“We’re activating different pieces of it,” Armstrong said.
“We’re working with the different parts of what keeps the county going and making sure we know what’s going on, we get the information out, we just educate the community so they’re not listening to rumors and they’re not listening to Facebook.”
Armstrong said it’s important that residents do not share information about COVID-19 or any possible restrictions unless it comes from Brown County EMA, Brown County Health Department, the Centers for Disease Control and the Indiana State Department of Health.
“Right now the rumors are going crazy and that’s why we have panic. We don’t want panic right now,” Armstrong said.
“We want everybody to remain calm. Right now, it’s very much calm, stable.”
Community Organizations Active in Disaster is a national program. Brown County’s COAD will ultimately be registered with the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Armstrong said.