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Downtown Tipton and the rest of the county have been declared emergency zones.

TIPTON – Tipton County commissioners on Friday declared a local emergency disaster and issued guidelines and restrictions that aim to curb the spread of the COVID-19, including closing some business and issuing a travel advisory.

The county on Saturday had it’s first local resident diagnosed with a presumptive case of novel coronavirus. The patient is currently hospitalized.

The Tipton County Health Department said it is working closely with the local and state officials to ensure that contacts of the patient are identified and monitored and that all infection control protocols are being followed.

Now, beginning at 7 a.m. Monday, the county is requiring some business to close until May 1. Businesses ordered to close include bank lobbies, liquor stores, barber shops, department stores and auto dealerships.

Officials said in a release that businesses ordered to close are ones in which there is a high volume of close, person-to-person contact and likely spread of virus contamination.

Business that will remain open have been deemed “essential to quality of life,” and includes grocery stores, gas stations, hardware stores, drive-thru banks, healthcare facilities and auto repair shops.

Commissioners also issued a orange travel advisory on Saturday, which recommends only essential travel, to caution residents and visitors of the potential risks associated with traveling and being in public around other people. The advisory took affect at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Tipton officials said the travel advisory is simply a precautionary measure and not intended to cause public fear or panic.

The ordinance also limits access to the Tipton County Courthouse and other county government buildings until further notice. However, residents that have essential business can enter government buildings as long as they have made prior arrangements with a department head or other designated county official.

Tipton Mayor Tom Dolezal said he supported the new measures, and asked residents to use “common sense precautions of limiting unnecessary interaction, travel and close-quarters contact.”

“Also, please adhere to a much higher level of sanitary methods, which may mean the difference between life and death for a friend or family member,” he said in a release.

Tipton County Sheriff Tony Frawley asked residents to follow the guidelines and mandates in the ordinance, which aim to stop the virus from spreading to the city and county. The ordinance is being enforced by the sheriff’s department and Tipton Police Department.

“The coronavirus has effected each and everyone us,” Frawley said in a release. “We as a community must come together as one.”

Although the first Tipton County resident has been diagnosed with the virus, the health department said it has now been determined that two out-of-county residents were previously hospitalized at the IU Health Tipton Hospital with COVID-19. Those people have since been quarantined to other locations.

Anyone with questions about the virus should call the Indiana COVID-19 Call Center at 877-826-0011, IU Health Tipton Hospital at 765-675-8500, or the Tipton County Health Department at 765-675-8741.

The new restrictions approved Friday in Tipton closely follow an ordinance passed by Howard County commissioners on Wednesday, which closed non-essential businesses for at least two weeks starting Friday and declared a orange travel advisory.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, carson.gerber@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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