The Crusader Newspaper Group

Mayor closes Gary beaches as COVID-19 cases rise

Crusader Staff Report

With rising COVID-19 cases, Mayor Jerome Prince on Tuesday, July 28 ordered Gary’s beaches temporarily closed for the next two weeks. The order went into effect July 29.

The order includes the closure of Marquette Park shelters and all adjacent parking. The park will remain open for recreational activity (i.e. walking, cycling, etc.) as long as social distancing exists. All other parks in Gary will remain open as well, Prince said.

“Understanding that beach goers from our community and the Chicagoland area have had fewer outdoor venues for exercise and to enjoy the weather because of the pandemic, last week, my team and I introduced an experimental plan to keep our beaches open to the public while promoting social distancing techniques as we continue to fight the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

Prince said Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker recommended the city temporarily close the city’s beaches to control the large crowds at the beaches.

On Tuesday, Gary reported 13 new COVID-19 cases, for a total of 1,047. The number of COVID-19 deaths remains at 63.

“We continue to see almost daily double-digit increases in our new COVID-19 positive cases in Gary,” Prince said. “We also must ease the logistical strains on our public safety teams and our beach neighborhoods. I agree with Dr. Walker. We must move beyond the experimental plan, as unfortunate as it may be.

“To ensure compliance and our community’s safety, Gary Police Department officers will patrol the full length of our shoreline, and they will evict anyone seen on our beaches. We will assess the situation over the next two weeks and explore ways we can reopen our beaches and still protect the public.”

City officials have constantly monitored Gary’s beaches since they reopened Memorial Day Weekend, when large crowds caused traffic jams and packed parking lots.

As of July 28, some 63,678 people have been infected with COVID-19 and 2,725 have died from the disease, according to Indiana State’s Department of Health.

On Tuesday, volunteers were busy handing out masks to residents in the parking lot at the Hudson-Campbell Sports Center next to City Hall.

The city had about 10,000 to give away. Some of the masks came from the Willie Wilson Foundation while others were purchased. The masks were given out in a plastic sandwich bag.

The mask giveaway will occur every Saturday beginning August 8 along with the produce giveaway at the Genesis Center.

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