City leaders on Monday encouraged local residents to heed Gov. Eric Holcomb's message and stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Hunker down,” said Mayor Joe Yochum during a video posted to the city's Facebook page Monday afternoon.

City council members met — some in person, others by phone — Monday night to pass an emergency resolution that suspends their bi-monhly meetings but allows the city clerk-treasurer to continue paying “valid claims,” specifically, employee payroll, utility costs, and other “regular” bills.

The resolution, too, would allow for emergency purchases related to COVID-19, such as masks for first-responders.

“But the council will still get the claims docket,” the mayor said, “and if they have questions, they can call.

“But this ensures employees will still get paid.”

Some city services, too, will change in the wake of the governor's order, which limits Hoosiers only to “essential business,” things like work, visits to the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., until April 7.

Crews with the Street and Sanitation Department will soon discontinue the pickup of recyclables, the mayor said, focusing only on trash.

“We want to try to have fewer employees out at a time,” he said, “but we will continue to pick up trash.”

The animal shelter now, too, has temporarily discontinued all adoptions.

Last week, the mayor closed all city departments to walk-in traffic, but they were still taking appointments from local residents interested in adopting a specific dog or cat they saw on the shelter's website or Facebook page.

That is no longer an option, the mayor said.

“We won't be adopting out animals” he said. “Only employees will be allowed inside the shelter to clean and take care of the animals.

“We will only continue with city business that absolutely has to be done,” he said.

Yochum said public restrooms, too, like those in the pocket park on Main Street and in the public parks, are likely to close soon; the use of playground equipment will be prohibited in the parks.

People are still encouraged to use the parks and walking trails, just practice social distancing by keeping at least 6 feet between you and other people.

The mayor is unsure of whether the city will continue issuing building permits, which he had previously advised residents to call about ahead of time.

“I don't see how we can,” he said, “not when we're telling people not to get out unless they have to.”

Yochum, too, said an ongoing effort to “crack seal” streets — city crews were on Sixth Street Monday — will be suspended.

“You’re not going to see the Street Department do anything but pickup trash,” he said. “We won’t be doing any crack sealing or striping or sweeping of streets,” he said.

Council president Tim Salters said, to keep residents abreast of what’s happening in regards to the city business, he and the mayor will post daily videos to Facebook as well.

“We’re going to do this the best way we can — and be as transparent and open as we promised to be,” he said during Monday’s brief meeting. “We want to make sure we are serving the (residents) of Vincennes but also make sure we pay our bills and that our employees are paid.”

But more than anything, city officials are pleading with people to “hunker down.

“Everybody has to do their part,” said the mayor. “If you do, the sooner this will all be over.”

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