The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has closed its Peru clinic as officials make preparations for what is expected to be an increase in COVID-19 cases.

The March 19 closure means the Peru and Muncie Community Based Outpatient Clinics “will cease direct patient care services, routing resources in preparation for an anticipated surge of COVID-19 patients,” a Friday news release from the VA said.

“This is part of a tri-state operation, including VA Medical Centers across Veterans Integrated Service Network (VISN) 10,” the release said. “VISN 10 oversees all VA Medical Centers in Cleveland, Columbus, Chillicothe, Dayton, Cincinnati, Northern Indiana, Indianapolis, Detroit, Saginaw, Battle Creek, and Ann Arbor.”

“Northern Indiana Veterans in need of acute medical care are encouraged to seek medical attention at VANIHCS Fort Wayne, Marion Campus, and St. Joseph Community Facilities,” the release said. “Veterans can also utilize Urgent Care Facilities within the VA Network.”

Veterans who have questions about their routine care are asked to call 1-800-360-8387 ext. 75113. Those who need pharmacy refills, can call 1-800-360-8387 and follow the directions.

“We are committed to the health needs of all our Veterans and look forward to returning to normal operations as soon as we can,” the release said.

The same day that the closure took place, veterans also got a bit of good news when officials made it easier for families affected by the coronavirus emergency to secure money from the military family relief funds.

The changes “will remove a few key requirements that make it hard for us to serve veterans affected by this crisis,” said a letter explaining the measures from Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs Director Dennis A. Wimer. “We have removed, temporarily, the requirement that the veterans need be tied to their military service. Secondly, we have removed the requirement that the veteran has served during wartime. Also, above 2500 approval will come to me during this timeframe to expedite payments.”

That frees up the money provided that the need is tied to the crisis, the letter said.

“We are looking to help those who are out of work due to the current shutdowns,” Wirmer wrote in the letter dated March 19.