Commissioners maintain mask mandate in county offices
In recently lifting the statewide mask mandate he instituted last spring in response to COVID-19, Gov. Eric Holcomb left the requirement in place for state offices.
On Monday, the Putnam County Commissioners followed suit for county offices, keeping the mask requirement in place in county buildings and offices until at least Monday, April 19.
Under the current policy, all employees and visitors to county buildings and offices are still required to wear masks as well as maintain social distancing whenever possible.
The commissioners seemed poised to replace mandating masks to “strongly encouraging” them until Sara Burnett, nurse with the Putnam County Health Department, spoke up.
“My concern is we had a lot of families going to Florida and that’s where we’ve had an uptick of the new variant,” Burnett said, wondering if the commissioners might wait to see what county numbers looked like during their next meeting on April 19.
This was in addition to comments Burnett had made earlier in the meeting.
“Of course, we’re going to encourage masking and ask that everyone do the right thing,” she said. “We’re doing good. The numbers are going down and it’s because people are doing the right thing.”
With that wait-and-see approach in mind, Commissioner Tom Helmer made the motion to keep the mandate in place, with David Berry seconding the motion. Rick Woodall made the vote unanimous.
Even with the mandate remaining in place, the commissioners believe they have a plan in place for what the next step will be like, whenever it comes.
Visitors to the courthouse or other county offices will be strongly encouraged to wear a mask.
Meanwhile, county employees will not be required to wear masks when they are able to social distance, such as when sitting at their desks, but will be required to wear a face covering when they cannot social distance with one another or the public.
“We’ve agreed on what we’re going to do, we just don’t know when,” Berry said.
In the meantime, the Putnam County Health Department, Putnam County Hospital and local pharmacies will continue to get as many people vaccinated as possible.
“We’re busting our tails over there trying to vaccinate,” Burnett told the commissioners.
Brian Williams, preparedness coordinator with PCHD, told the commissioners that as of Monday morning, 5,815 Putnam County residents had been fully vaccinated.
That number took a big jump on Friday, when PCHD partnered with DePauw University and Hendricks Regional Health to administer 1,845 single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
All told, the health department has fulfilled 7,850 COVID vaccine appointments since Jan. 11, whether those were the first or second round of the Moderna vaccine or the only round of Johnson & Johnson.
“From what I’ve seen, you guys are doing great getting it out there,” Helmer said.