Reconnecting Carmel Task Force discusses new COVID-19 test site, reopening Midtown Plaza


The Reconnecting Carmel Task Force held its inaugural meeting May 5 to discuss how different businesses and organizations in the city can best follow Gov. Eric Holcomb’s five-stage plan for lifting COVID-19 restrictions. 

The following covers some of the topics considered by the task force. 

Another test site coming

Christian Walker, emergency preparedness coordinator for the Hamilton County Health Dept., said the county will soon open one of the state’s 50 new COVID-19 test sites recently announced by Holcomb. Walker said he expects the site to open on or around May 14 at a location near U.S. 31 and State Road 32 and serve residents of Hamilton, Boone, Tipton and Clinton counties. 

Only people who are symptomatic for COVID-19 will be eligible for testing at the site. Walker said the site should be able to conduct more than 130 tests per day. 

Midtown, Monon update 

The city may consider reopening Midtown Plaza and the portion of the Monon Greenway between Main Street and Gradle Drive, but not until signs and messaging are in place to remind people to wear masks and practice physical distancing. The city closed these areas after hundreds of people failed to practice physical distancing on one of the first beautiful weather days during the stay-at-home order, Carmel Mayor Jim Brainard said. 

“The irony is we built it as an area where people could socialize and meet their neighbors, but we didn’t plan on a pandemic,” Brainard said. 

Nancy Heck, the City of Carmel’s director of community relations and economic development, said her team is working on a campaign to encourage people to wear face coverings. She said she expects movie showings and live music at Midtown Plaza and the monthly Meet Me on Main to be some of the first city events to return — possibly even this month. 

Setting the stage 

Jeff McDermott, president and CEO of the Center for the Performing Arts, said his organization will be “at the back end of reopening” as restrictions are lifted. 

CPAC programming is suspended at least through June 30. McDermott expects the facilities to reopen with smaller performances first, with groups that would typically perform in the Studio Theatre, the smallest CPAC venue, moving into the larger Tarkington and performances normally in the Tarkington moving to the larger Palladium. 

“We’re going to be fairly conservative,” McDermott said. “We realize we can be a hotspot if we’re not careful because of the numbers of people that come through our venues.” 

Churches differ on reopening 

Representatives from three churches shared their plans for reopening. Pastor Steve Poe of Northview Church and Kevin Sweeney of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church said services will remain virtual for the foreseeable future. Neither congregation has selected a date to resume in-person worship.

Luther Brunette of Cornerstone Lutheran Church said the church will resume in-person services this weekend, the first Sunday churches are permitted to reopen under Holcomb’s plan. Brunette said household groups will be at least 9 feet apart, masks will be required and those older than 65 years old will be asked to stay home. 

Thermal scanners don’t catch all cases 

Dr. Michael Kaufman, medical director of the State of Indiana’s Emergency Medical Services Division, recommended against the use of thermal scanners alone to screen for potential COVID-19 cases. 

“Even under the best case scenarios, screening with thermal scanners may miss more than 50 percent of infected individuals,” he said, adding that he recommends screenings consist of temperature checks and symptom review. 

He also said that he recommends frequent handwashing over wearing gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He said people wearing gloves may end up touching more surfaces because they feel protected, but they could be spreading the virus more than they would have otherwise. 

The Reconnecting Carmel Task Force members are: 


  • Scott Law, President/CEO, Zotec Partners
  • Rob Bush, President (Retired), Orchard Software
  • Staci Kroon, President/CEO, BraunAbility

Entertainment Venues

  • Jeff McDermott, President/CEO, Center for the Performing Arts


  • Terry Anker, Chairman, The Anker Consulting Group
  • Trishna Batra, Volunteer, MPH, Corporate Wellness Specialist


  • Jamie Hopwood, General Manager, Hotel Carmichael


  • Dr. Michael Kaufmann, Medical Director, Emergency Medical Services Division, State of Indiana; and Medical Advisor for Carmel Fire Dept.
  • Deborah Wood, CEO, DWA Healthcare Communications Group
  • Christian Walker, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator, Hamilton County Health Dept.

Personal Services

  • Micki Stirsman, Owner, Salon 01

Real Estate

  • Carrie Holle, Broker/Owner, Highgarden Realty


  • Pastor Steve Poe, Northview Church
  • Pastor Luther Brunette, Cornerstone Lutheran Church
  • Father Ted Rothrock, Pastor, St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church


  • Amy Long, Owner, Fork + Ale
  • Kevin Paul, Owner, Danny Boy Beer Works, Brockway Pub
  • Paul Arechiga, Owner, Verde Flavors of Mexico


  • Carla Mackie, Owner, Uplift
  • Lauren Taylor, President/Owner, Holder Mattress

Sports and Recreation

  • Jack Beery, President, Carmel Dad’s Club

Carmel City Council (Ex-Officio members)

  • Adam Aasen
  • Laura Campbell
  • Sue Finkam
  • Tony Green
  • Dr. Tim Hannon
  • Bruce Kimball
  • Miles Nelson
  • Kevin Rider
  • Jeff Worrell

City of Carmel

  • Mayor Jim Brainard
  • Jim Crider, Director of Administration
  • Nancy Heck, Director of Community Relations and Economic Development
  • Barb Lamb, Director of Human Resources
  • Jim Barlow, Carmel Police Chief
  • Dave Haboush, Carmel Fire Chief

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