During the coronavirus pandemic crisis, The News-Dispatch has dropped the paywall for major breaking virus-related stories. If you appreciate local journalism, please help us continue to keep La Porte County informed by considering a subscription. Learn more here.MICHIGAN CITY — Mayor Duane Parry on Tuesday declared a Public Health Emergency in Michigan City, implementing a city-wide curfew and placing new restrictions on businesses that remain open.

The executive order was signed after state health officials announced Tuesday that 34 more Indiana residents have died from COVID-19, boosting the state’s death toll to 173 as confirmed coronavirus cases surged past 5,000.

With 25 confirmed cases and 3 deaths in La Porte County, the mayor is “implementing measures attempting to reduce and eliminate” the spread of the virus.

“To the citizens of our community, over the past week the number of people living in La Porte County that have become infected with COVID-19 virus has increased over 300 percent,” Parry said.

“As your Mayor, I cannot stress enough that the actions we take now through the next several weeks will help curb the spread of this virus and save lives,” he said.

“There is nothing that I won’t do as Mayor to protect our residents at this very critical time.”

Following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s extended Stay at Home Order issued Monday, Parry ordered a curfew that forbids anyone from being on the streets or “loitering in a vehicle” from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., effective Wednesday.

Exceptions include:

individuals traveling to and from work at an essential business, as described in the governor’s order

municipal and other government employees whose jobs are considered essential

persons employed by or seeking health care

persons seeking the service of public health or human services operations

workers on essential infrastructure projects

those engaged in essential travel

The order also placed limits of 2 customers per 1,000 feet of retail space for essential business, and limits total customers in a store at a time to 150 for businesses over 75,000 square feet, and 5 at a time for businesses of 2,000 square feet or less.

It puts a limit of one person per family shopping at an essential business.

The mayor also ordered the closure of Washington Park and Pullman Park, including all parking areas around the Michigan City Senior Center, Fedder’s Alley and Washington Park Zoo.

The Michigan City Port Authority and U.S. Coast Guard are exempt, and the marina will remain open with free boating with free boat launching at 6th and Michigan from 6 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Areas for “passive recreation,” such as Gardena Park, Striebel Pond and the Police Department facility will remain open for walking or jogging.

Parry also ordered that anyone with a “second home” in Michigan City, especially residents of identified hot spots such as Illinois, New York and Florida, must self-quarantine for 14 days, whether they are showing coronavirus symptoms or not.

Hotels, motels, short-term rental properties and vacation rentals are banned from allowing guests who are in the city for vacation or leisure, the mayor ordered.

Short-term rental properties are limited to allowing only guests who are members of essential professions, including first responders, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, active military, families of hospital patients, persons unable to return home due to travel restrictions, and local residents who cannot return home due to exigent circumstances, domestic violence or homelessness.

“If needed, the Michigan City Police are empowered to disperse gatherings and they can order people to vacate closed sections of parks,” Parry said.

Persons who violate the order, including owners of vacation or short-term rentals who allow unauthorized guests, can be charged with a misdemeanor.

Parry asked the Common Council to schedule a meeting to consent to allowing the order to run through May 4. If the council does not agree, the order will expire on April 14.

The 34 new deaths reported Tuesday were the largest number the Indiana State Department of Health has reported to date in its daily pandemic updates, following 24 deaths reported last Friday.

There have been 3 deaths in La Porte County, 11 in Lake County, and 1 each in St, Joseph, Jasper and Newton counties in Northwest Indiana.

The third La Porte County death, reported Monday, was a woman over 80 who passed away from complications of COVID-19 at Franciscan Health Michigan City after the family requested no life support, according to La Porte County Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora. She was admitted from home to the hospital.

The ISDH also reported that an additional 568 Hoosiers had confirmed cases of COVD-19, increasing Indiana’s total cases to 5,507l.

That total includes 25 confirmed cases in La Porte County, 84 in Porter County, 129 in St. Joseph County, 418 in Lake County, 14 in Jasper County, 5 in Starke County and 10 in Marshall County.

Berrien County, Michigan, has 64 confirmed cases and 2 deaths, according to the Berrien County Health Department.

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