The Shelby County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution Monday morning that will re-implement masks in county office buildings and schools.
The mandate becomes effective Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 8 a.m.
The resolution came following a request from Health Department Director Rob Lewis to issue a public health order. Lewis told The Shelbyville News a couple weeks ago that he thought this was the second best thing people can do to bring down Covid cases.
Health Dept. Director asks businesses to require masks; Will make formal request at commissioners meeting
Thursday morning’s health department office had a really long line to get COVID tests, but its vaccination clinic at the Occasions building was nearly empty, said Health Department Director Robert Lewis.
Indiana State Senate Bill 5, recently passed by the state legislature, requires Lewis to get approval of the commissioners before instituting any kind of public health order, hence Lewis’ appearance at Monday’s meeting
The decision to mandate masks came not just at Lewis’ recommendation, but also at the recommendation of the county’s health board and Major Health Partners.
“If we could get more people vaccinated, we wouldn’t have to do this,” Lewis said. “I think we need to take the lead on this, to show that we’re unanimous that this needs to be done to help the spread of the Covid virus.”
Despite Lewis push for unanimity, the commissioners approved the resolution 2-1. Don Parker voting against the mandate, stating he wasn’t comfortable requiring others to wear masks.
“I’m not sure this is correct,” Parker said. “As far as myself, I’ve got the shots. If there’s a booster shot coming out, I’ll get it. I encourage my family to get it. I wear a protective mask when indicated I need to have one. I use sanitizers when I feel I need to be. Here at the county offices, we put in plastic [barriers] to protect workers. I think we’ve made significant movement in that direction to protect our workers. I want to set a good example, I try to, and I don’t have problems with parents sending their children to school with masks if that’s what they wish to do. But I find it very difficult for myself to tell somebody else ‘This is what you must do.’”
The mandate only covers county office buildings and county schools. Lewis said he wanted to give businesses the freedom to choose whether or not they require masks in their buildings.
“The businesses, we hope they follow our lead, and a lot of them are now,” Lewis said. “You’re seeing that more because businesses have closed because of quarantining. If we could get people to wear a mask, they won’t have to quarantine.”
This is on point with the governor’s most recent executive order regarding Covid quarantining policies in schools. According to the order, if a close contact in school is wearing a mask when exposed to Covid, they do not have to quarantine.
“I’m trying to be fair about it by not mandating it across all businesses,” Lewis said.
As far as schools go, children will be required to wear masks any time they are indoors, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated or socially distancing, Lewis said, answering questions from members of the public following the meeting.
“The [health] board is very adamant this needs to be done to help with children and the hospital,” Lewis said.
Lewis said the schools have asked for a mask mandate. He also said he’s gotten calls from parents asking if a mandate would be implemented.
“We’re getting calls, ‘Why aren’t we wearing mask?’” Lewis said. “We’re getting more than a handful, we’re getting hundreds: ‘My kid’s been home for 14 days, when are they going to require masks? I gotta go to work, I gotta take off work because my kids aren’t wearing masks. They’d be in school if they were wearing masks.’”
This lead to discussion about whether or not school districts had the ability to implement their own mask mandates. They do, but Lewis said school administrators fear the backlash they may receive if they implement a mask mandate.
“We can help them with the tools so they can place the blame on us,” Lewis said. “It makes it easier for them.”
Shelby County is at a 15 percent positivity rate, and the hospital is full.
“The whole situation comes down to the hospital,” Commissioner Chris Ross said. “[MHP Major Hospital President] Jack Horner made that very clear when he spoke to us Wednesday, but we also got out of that conversation the hospital highly recommended the schools follow this policy.
“Not everybody is going to agree on the direction to go,” he added. “I think the bigger point here is the plea to the public – however you do it personally to bring this under control. It doesn’t make any difference how you feel on it. The hospital is full. Emergency Care Services, if you have to go in there, [you might] not get service. We need to help as a community to bring it down.”
Commissioner Kevin Nigh agreed with Ross, stating this was a good place to start.
The resolution is set to expire Oct. 30, unless the commissioners move to end the mandate sooner.
The Joseph Boggs Society will open its free local museum to the public on Sunday, Sept. 26 from 1-4 p.m. and Oct. 24 from 1-4 p.m. according to an email.
Displays include Boggstown High School items and class photos, the Red Mill, Ma Kettle actress Marjorie Main, Boggstown Cabaret, Civil War Union Major General Ambrose Burnside and our railroad he owned, Boggstown Resolutions to secede from the Union, Boggstown people, places, and things, and the 1887 Seventh Day Adventist Church building that is now our home and museum.
“We hope friends who follow us on Facebook.com/Boggstown, as well as everyone in Sugar Creek Township, will join us sometime to learn more about our history, so invite your local friends to promote our community,” said President Ken Gardner.
The society plans to hold its next free quarterly meeting on Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., with “The Road To Civil War” program by former Shelby County Historian Ron Hamilton.
MHP has released the following update:
MHP Priority Care and MHP Pediatrics walk-in volumes have remained very busy and higher than normal volumes, but slightly less busy than last week’s volumes.
The Emergency Department saw 91 patients Sunday, which is significantly above normal volumes.
All 40 inpatients beds are occupied on our 3rd floor inpatient unit, including the ICU.
MHP currently has 17 critical care patients on the third floor and 11 patients are on ventilators, plus seven additional patients that are on Vapotherm or BiPap. Of the 11 patients on a ventilator, only only is vaccinated. Seven of the 11 ventilated patients are due to COVID.
Fifteen inpatients are COVID positive and 12 of those inpatients are unvaccinated.
MHP has 12 inpatients in the ACC department and all of those are non-COVID.
A total of 10 employees are out with COVID or suspected COVID at this time. Two employees have returned to work after completing their quarantine period.
MHP has zero remaining doses of Regeneron, the antibody treatment used to treat COVID-19.
They have 70 remaining doses of the Eli Lilly infusion drug Bamlanivimab (BAM). They had 19 infusions scheduled Monday, so they expected the remaining supply to dissipate quickly. Both drugs are on allocation, and MHP does not know when or if they will receive additional shipments.
The sounds of drums beating and flutes whistling resonated in the air Saturday morning at Blue River Memorial Park.
With parents towing around their finished art projects, children went from one activity to the next during the ninth annual Arts In the Park event.
After two years, the free event returned and brought a big crowd to the local park. Local children had the opportunity to try their hand at various artistic projects, from building a flute with direction from Joel DeLashmitt to origami to various crafts.
They had the chance to create a painting under the guidance of Hendricks Elementary School teacher Dawn Adams, who showed them how to paint a patriotic scene in memory of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack.
Indeed, patriotism was the theme of the day.
A new activity allowed children to color in stars with chalk. Rhonda Schwegman drew a waving American flag with an eagle at the bottom, her first attempt using chalk.
There were also demonstrations, including Tae Kwon Do, and a presentation by puppeteers Jim and Bonnie Scott. Children’s author LC Young also attended and children could take home balloon art.
The Shelby County Arts Fest hosted the ninth annual Arts In the Park event.
The group plans to host the second annual Intro to Arts event next month for newcomers. That will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 16 at Echo Effect, 102 E. Washington St., in Shelbyville.