Seymour extends COVID-19 travel watch

The Seymour City Council has extended its COVID-19 travel advisory through April 30 but not without discussion and some dissent.

Seymour is currently on an orange level watch, meaning people should refrain from all unnecessary travel. That advisory was issued by Mayor Matt Nicholson on April 3 and technically expired Friday.

The Jackson County Commissioners took the same measure in an effort to comply with the governor’s stay-at-home order, which as of right now is through April 20 unless it also is extended.

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People should only be getting out for essential reasons, including work, to get food or to go to medical appointments. Those who must get out should practice social distancing and wear a face mask.

During Monday night’s city council meeting, Nicholson said he was going to leave it up to the council to make the decision on whether to extend the city’s travel advisory or let it expire.

If the board wanted to keep it in place, it should do so through at least April 20 to match the state’s executive order, he said, but it could go all the way through April 30 with council approval.

Seymour Parks and Recreation Director Stacy Findley said from the parks department perspective, she was in favor of keeping the orange level watch in place through the end of April.

“I feel like this is the first week we have been able to keep people out of the parks facilities and people are taking it seriously,” she said.

Nicholson said the city could cancel the travel watch any time after Gov. Eric Holcomb ends the state’s stay-at-home order.

Councilman Jerry Hackney made the motion to extend the advisory through the end of the month as long as the city has the power to back out of it before then if the current situation changes.

The board approved the motion with a vote of 6-1.

Councilman Bret Cunningham said he didn’t think the watch should be extended due to misinformation about the severity of the pandemic locally.

“I believe it’s a very trying time for many,” he said. “I feel that the information about this virus as well as the models of transmission and death have changed quite a bit. We seem to be trying to make decisions based on the unknown, rather than what is actually going on in our city.”

Cunningham said Jackson County is fortunate it hasn’t had a single COVID-19 death, but there are still people who don’t have the disease dying alone, people who are having emergency procedures done without their loved ones at the hospital or people who are missing preventative care appointments that save lives because of the stay-at-home order.

“All of this is because of government-implemented policies, not because this virus has killed the first person in our county,” he said.

Since there have been no COVID-19 deaths in Jackson County, Cunningham said he doesn’t see how keeping people home is flattening the curve.

“There is no curve here,” he said.