County Monroe extends mask term until October

The Monroe County Department of Health has extended its county-wide health regulations, including the mandatory use of face masks in indoor public spaces, until October 31. The extension was approved by county commissioners on Wednesday.

Deaths among those diagnosed with COVID-19 are on the rise in Monroe County. The State Department of Health dashboard on Wednesday showed three new COVID-related deaths among county residents, bringing the pandemic total to 196. That’s five more than Friday and six more than September 17th. Reports are sometimes late on actual deaths, so additional deaths may have been spread over a longer period.

Following:Monroe County COVID-19 cases on the rise: ‘We are not out of the woods’

“We continue to see deaths from COVID-19, so anyone paying attention to this dashboard will see people continue to die,” Penny Caudill, health administrator, said at the meeting of commissioners.

Last week, the county health board met and approved the extension of the health order as well as questions from the public about the order.

The current regulations were approved in early August and were due to expire this Thursday evening.

Following:Monroe County’s new health order requires the use of a mask in public spaces

“No other regulations, other than an obligation to wear face coverings in indoor public places, will be put into effect for the moment,” says the new order.

The bylaw was revised earlier in September to confirm that the ordering of mandatory masks should be done at all schools in the county.

Following:Revised County Health Ordinance Confirms Mandate for Face Mask at School and Signs at Public Entrances

“Things are better today than they were last week. But nonetheless, we still have a high level of transmission,” Caudill said.

Health officials want the county’s COVID-19 positivity rate to drop to less than 50 cases per 100,000 people. The earliest the Department of Health can hope to reach that level is estimated to be around October 20, Caudill said.

If the number of cases in Monroe County falls below 50 cases per 100,000 by October 31, putting the county in an advisory blue color for the state, the health ordinance would automatically be canceled.

During the meeting, Caudill also provided an update on the news of COVID-19 in the county.

Fewer positive tests, nearly 60% vaccinated

Although Monroe County remains in the Orange Notice for community transmission rates in Indiana, the county’s positivity percentage fell below 5% this week, which is a good sign, Caudill said.

The county is still slightly shy of 60% fully immunized.

“We need to continue to vaccinate everyone who is eligible,” Caudill said.

Currently, only those 12 and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Commissioner Penny Githens has requested an update on when children aged 5 to 11 will be approved for vaccination.

This week, Pfizer announced that it has submitted clinical trial data to the Food and Drug Administration demonstrating that its COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children aged 5 to 11.

Caudill said there was no specific date to predict, but the vaccine could be approved by the FDA for younger children as early as the end of October.

During public comments, Citizen Greg Alexander spoke out against extending the order, referring to the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine and the alleged damage wearing a face covering has on social interactions.

Each commissioner spoke in favor of the extension and approved it unanimously 3-0. It is now due to expire on October 31 at midnight.

Contact Rachel Smith at [email protected] or @RachelSmithNews on Twitter.

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