Local industry remains open under order

By LEANN BURKE
lburke@dcherald.com

In his latest response to COVID-19, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced a stay-at-home order Monday that calls on Hoosiers to remain at home except for essential travel. It also calls on Hoosier businesses deemed non-essential to close.

But the order — which goes into effect tonight — will not leave the streets of Dubois County empty as much of the county’s industry will remain operational. Following Holcomb’s announcement of a stay-at-home order, Kimball International and Farbest Foods told The Herald via email that they intend to remain operational under the provision for essential business.

“Farbest and its affiliated companies supply food (turkey meat) to many companies all around the world,” Farbest Inc. President Ted Seger said in an email. “That being the case, our companies fall into the category of Essential Business Functions and we shall remain in production in every respect. In fact, all of our supply chain vendors, farm families that grow our turkeys, employees and customers remain committed to carrying out our responsibility to help feed the world during challenging times like these.”

Seger added that the company has taken additional steps to ensure the health of Farbest’s employees and affiliates, but did not specify what those steps are.

A public statement from Kimball International also stated the company’s intent to continue operations as normally as possible. According to the statement, all manufacturing facilities currently operating will continue.

“Many Kimball International products are critical to supplying key sectors during this time of great need,” the statement said. “Our products are being used far and wide to support an increase in demand for healthcare products, additional needs as pop-up facilities appear to serve people across the country, government and commercial facilities, and an increase in remote working.”

The statement also mentioned steps the company has taken for employee safety: enhanced cleaning measures; social distancing; and sharing health recommendations based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other authorities’ guidelines.

The company also issued a longer statement from CEO Kristie Juster on the impact of COVID-19 to the company.

“At Kimball International there is nothing more important than the health and safety of our employees, our customers and the communities in which we operate,” Juster said in the statement. “As we face this time of unprecedented challenges, we have taken swift action to proactively safeguard and support our people, activate business continuity plans to minimize impact to our customers and continue the rigorous financial management of our business.”

Juster’s full statement can be found here.

The Herald reached out to several other companies Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning but did not receive statements by press time.

As part of food and medical supply lines, Farbest and Kimball International are permitted to remain operational under Holcomb’s stay-at-home order. A full list of what the state considers essential business can be found here.

The executive order also created the Critical Industries Hotline to guide businesses and industries with the executive order. This center, reachable by calling 877-820-0890 or by emailing covidresponse@iedc.in.gov, is for business and industry questions only.

Holcomb’s stay-at-home order comes less than a week after he issued an executive order closing all public schools in the state until May 1. Also last week, the Dubois County Health Department called on local, non-essential retail businesses to close. Those businesses are now required to close under Holcomb’s stay-at-home order.

The stay-at-home order will expire on April 7, unless extended.




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