Mayor Fischer prohibiting motor vehicles in some Metro parks to give more room to walkers, runners, and cyclists

April 8, 2020

Mayor Greg Fischer today said the city is banning motor vehicles from the loop roads in Iroquois, Cherokee, and Chickasaw parks effective at 7 a.m. Thursday. The parks will remain open and accessible to walkers, runners, and bicyclists who want to get fresh air and exercise during the COVID-19 shutdown of most other public spaces in Louisville. Golf courses will also continue to operate.

The Mayor has been encouraging Louisvillians to use the city’s 120 parks and the Louisville Loop throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, and the ban on motor vehicles on loop roads in these three parks will allow pedestrians and people on bicycles to spread out even more and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Our parks will remain open,” Mayor Fischer said. “We always see more people in our parks in the spring, and that’s especially true this year, since COVID-19 has people spending more time at home. I’ve been visiting our parks and am so proud, impressed and grateful to all the thousands and thousands of people who are practicing good social distancing in our parks system.”

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The Mayor said that closing the loop roads within these three parks to cars, trucks, and motorcycles will make it easier for pedestrians, bicyclists and joggers to maintain a healthy social distance and will reduce the chance of any kind of accident involving vehicles and visitors. It will also reduce the opportunity for social gatherings around park pavilions and shelters.

Mayor Fischer noted that there are many options for pedestrians and cyclists who might not live close to Iroquois, Cherokee, and Chickasaw parks, such as Jefferson Memorial Forest, the Ohio River Levee Trail, and the Parklands of Floyds Fork. The city is also looking at the roads in other parks, including Shawnee, to see what can be done to make them safer and easier for visitors to practice social distancing.

He thanked Louisville Parks and Recreation, Develop Louisville, and LMPD, as well as the Louisville Olmsted Parks Conservancy and the Louisville Metro Council for working together to create the plan for implementing these closures. You can find more information at www.bestparksever.com.

District 21 Metro Councilwoman Nicole George, whose district is directly adjacent to Iroquois Park, supported the Mayor’s decision.

“Community members are heeding the call to action by staying healthy at home. Parks have become especially vital at this time, allowing us to remain connected with nature and exercise,” Councilwoman George said. “Unfortunately, the necessary physical distancing requirements, combined with an increase in utilization, means many pedestrians are having to decide between getting too close to a fellow park goer or being nudged into the roadway risking injury by a vehicle. In response, Metro Parks and Olmsted heard the concerns of the community, recognizing that while this may result in some temporary inconvenience for motorists, creating space for each other is a sacrifice worth making.”

The city recently closed playgrounds, basketball courts, and other areas in Metro Parks because people were continuing to use them without maintaining safe social distance. Mayor Fischer said he does not want to see that problem extend to the loop roads and walking paths.

“We have to be disciplined about this, because we’re battling a virus that doesn’t take a day off and doesn’t care why we’re in proximity with our neighbors. It just wants to infect as many people as possible,” the Mayor said.

New racial data available on Louisville COVID-19 cases

To help improve our understanding of the way the COVID-19 outbreak is impacting the community, city officials today released detailed data on the racial breakdown of Louisvillians who have been confirmed to have the virus as well as those who have died.

Officials noted that the new data represents 77 percent of Louisville COVID-19 cases because racial data has not been collected consistently from all patients.

Deaths:

  • 75% White
  • 20% Black
  • 4% Asian
  • 0% Multiracial

Total confirmed cases:

  • 64% White
  • 27% Black
  • 9% Asian
  • 0% Multiracial

The data mostly aligns with the racial breakdown of Louisville, which according to the U.S. Census is 70 percent white, 24 percent black, and 3 percent Asian. COVID-19 data from some larger cities has been showing a disproportionate number of minorities are suffering from the virus.

“This is a justice issue. As we’ve all seen so often, it’s our under-resourced and minority populations that tend to be the most at-risk and face excessive and unfair disadvantages in any crisis,” the Mayor said. “Even before COVID-19, there was more than 12 years difference in life expectancy between some of our neighborhoods. That’s a reality that plagues every city in our nation, and it is completely unacceptable. That is why we must focus intentionally on root causes and social determinants of health – that’s something we were working before this crisis, and something we will continue to work on going forward.”

The racial data comes with some important caveats:

Race data is not required in the documents the city receives. If the hospital does not collect the data or if the patient refuses to share it, the city will not immediately have it.
There often is a lag in when we learn of a confirmed case or death and when we are able to obtain data, either from the hospital, patient or a death certificate.
Race data is not entered consistently. A person can select “Other” and write in, and sometimes, people write in White or Black, for example.

“My hope is that if this crisis has any silver lining, it’s that it might lead to the necessary societal changes to significantly improve things for our under-resourced neighbors,” Mayor Fischer said.

Mayor Fischer urges businesses to produce and donate personal protective equipment (PPE)

Mayor Fischer today asked local companies to donate and/or produce medical masks, face shields, gowns, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) to Louisville hospitals and first responders.

Although Louisville has been maintaining a stable supply of PPE throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the situation could change quickly. The Mayor said hospitals are not being overwhelmed with virus patients but are concerned about their supplies of PPE.

“Our Incident Management Team is working with them to help secure more PPE for our health care warriors, doctors, nurses, EMTs, janitors, hospital social workers – everyone who’s putting their lives on the line in this crisis to help the sick and prevent the spread of this disease,” Mayor Fischer said. “And they need our help. They need more PPE.”

The Mayor is urging Louisville companies that have PPE in stock or the capability to make PPE to step up and help.

That includes:

  • Coveralls
  • Face shields
  • Respirators
  • Safety goggles
  • Surgical masks
  • Surgical gloves
  • Sanitizing wipes
  • Disinfectant spray
  • Hand sanitizer (65% alcohol minimum)

The Mayor thanked local companies like Rabbit Hole and Brown-Forman, which are making hand sanitizer; Wicked Sheets, which is helping out with masks; and Clayton & Crume, which is making face shields, for pitching in.

If your company can donate or manufacture any of these items, or know someone who can, and you want to know more, please contact Louisville Metro Government at [email protected] and someone will respond.

You can also contact the state PPE hotline at 1-833-448-3773 or go online at secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/TeamKentucky/PPE

Mayor talks with local faith leaders about COVID-19 challenges

Mayor Fischer held an online town hall this morning to discuss the impact COVID-19 has had on the local religious community. Houses of worship across Louisville have canceled services and other gatherings to help stop the spread of the virus.

The Mayor acknowledged that it was a painful, albeit necessary decision, especially now during Christian Holy Week and Jewish Passover.

“This time of COVID-19 and the spreading of the virus is not the time to putting large numbers of people in the same space, because we would in effect be creating a tinderbox for the virus,” Mayor Fischer said. “I know the pain that this brings to people. I know it’s going to be tough to tell our kids they aren’t going to be hunting Easter eggs with their grandparents this weekend, for example. But it’s necessary to protect the health of those same grandparents that we love so much.”

At Louisville’s Congregation Adath Jeshurun, that means canceling a Passover Seder meal that normally draws 250 people, said Rabbi Robert B. Slosberg. “This is a period of disruptive innovation and we’ve all had to rise to the occasion. It’s a sad occasion, but out of our sadness, we’re learning to be creative.”

Timothy Findley Jr., Senior Pastor at Kingdom Fellowship Christian Life Center, said he has been focusing some of his energy on helping fellow faith leaders cope with these stressful times.

“[The pandemic] is something that has forced us to be creative, more compassionate, more intentional,” Pastor Findley said. “We created a Facebook group and weekly call with faith leaders, simply for us to connect with one another, to vent, to share strategies, and things of that nature, because the mental health of faith leaders is so important right now.”

While some churches around Kentucky have resisted the call to cancel in-person worship services, local faith leaders told the Mayor that they are becoming more adept at using technology to reach their congregants.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Louisville, for example, broadcast its Chrism Mass, a major part of Holy Week, on local television last night because the public could not attend, said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz.

“We have no difficulty justifying our efforts to protect people, especially our most vulnerable,” said Archbishop Kurtz. “One of the things I’m reflecting on is that when you’re deprived of something, appreciate it more.”

You can watch the entire discussion at www.facebook.com/MayorGregFischer.

Daily COVID-19 data

As of Wednesday, there have been 478 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Louisville, an increase of 76 since Tuesday. There have been four additional deaths, bringing the Louisville total to 31.

Currently, 42 members of LMPD, Louisville Fire, Metro EMS, Metro Corrections, and the Sheriff’s Office are off-duty due to COVID-19:

  • 6 are off with positive tests and in self-isolation.
  • 18 are off and quarantined due to exposure to someone with a positive test.
  • 18 are “screened off” with symptoms and have been tested (or due to be tested) but have not received test results.

Positive test numbers for first responders/public safety since the incident began:

  • 11 positive tests.
  • 4 have fully recovered and returned to duty.

Metro Corrections inmate data for April 8:

  • 33 inmates have been tested.
  • 0 positive tests.
  • 2 tests are pending.
  • 4 inmates are in isolation due to possible COVID-19 exposure.

Online town hall on Thursday

Mayor Fischer will discuss the impact the COVID-19 outbreak is having on the effort to bring more fair and equitable housing to Louisville during an online town hall on Thursday morning.

The guests will be:

  • Kendall Boyd, Director of the Louisville Metro Human Relations Commission
  • Marilyn Harris, Director of the Louisville Metro Department of Housing
  • Cathy Hinko, Executive Director of the Metropolitan Housing Coalition
  • Christie McCravy, Executive Director for the Louisville Metro Affordable Housing Trust Fund

Go to www.Facebook.com/MayorGregFischer at 10 a.m. on Thursday to participate.