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Marion County's top health official 'very concerned' about Simon malls reopening

Posted at 2:11 PM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 17:14:46-04

INDIANAPOLIS – Marion County’s top public health official said she is "very concerned” about Simon Property Group’s plans to reopen its malls this weekend.

Simon has three malls in Marion County – Circle Centre Mall, Castleton Square Mall and the Fashion Mall at Keystone.

The company, which is the nation's biggest shopping mall owner, says new safety procedures in light of COVID-19 have been "reviewed and approved by experts in epidemiology and environmental health and safety."

But Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine expressed her concerns Thursday about the company’s plan.

“From the public health perspective we are very concerned about letting a large retail establishment be open when we’re still having greater than 100 new cases a day.” Caine said.

She said the move could “dramatically” increase the number of cases in the county and put other citizens at risk.

“It may undo all the good work we have put in place related to our shelter-in-place and stay-at-home philosophy,” Caine said.

However, the company’s plans may be moot at this point, as the city of Indianapolis extended its stay-at-home order for until May 15 at least.

Gov. Holcomb said he supports Hogsett's extension of the stay-at-home order, and takes Simon at its word that it won't defy the order.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said city officials will be discussing the plans Thursday with Simon Property Group officials.

Hogsett said he didn’t know about Simon Property Group’s plans to reopen until a question was asked by a media member in Gov. Eric Holcomb’s press conference this week.