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August 8, 2020

7/29/2020 10:39:00 AM
Officials take steps to make sure county in compliance
Proper disposal of Personal Protective Equipment such as masks has become a problem across the U.S., including here in Jennings. You are asked to dispose of masks and gloves in trash containers to limit the spread of germs, and not in the street, as above.—Staff Photo
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Proper disposal of Personal Protective Equipment such as masks has become a problem across the U.S., including here in Jennings. You are asked to dispose of masks and gloves in trash containers to limit the spread of germs, and not in the street, as above.—Staff Photo
State guidelines were elevated last week as Indiana's cases of COVID-19 continue to climb.

Since last Thursday, local cases have increased by seven. Deaths here from the virus remains at 12, although Health Dept. office manager/Environ-mental Health Specialist Peggy Roe told county officials last week that in the case of 2 other deaths here, COVID was the "probable" cause.

This increase was reflected across the state and prompted Gov. Eric Holcomb to make the wearing of masks mandatory for businesses and individuals as of Monday, July 27, except where social distancing is possible in offices and in outdoor situations.

At least one Jennings County restaurant, though, has been referred "upstate" because staff has refused to "mask up," reported Roe.

Health Dept. staff visited the restaurant last month after it received a complaint from a customer and "cited" the establishment. Reportedly, one staffer said s(he) did not have to wear a mask, as advised by their doctor; however, they were told it would be fine to wear a face shield.
Then, the dept. received a second complaint, found the staff member was still refusing to wear the PPE and issued another citation. The restaurant was then reported to state officials.

"It is out of our hands now," she said.

Roe was at the county commissioners meeting last week to bring them up to date and discuss how to handle issues that arise in the county.
For example, there are apparently some county employees who do not want to wear masks. Roe advised the commissioners that such a refusal is "insubordination," as documented in the employee handbook, and that refusal should be dealt with appropriately.

"We have to set an example," she said.

Commissioner Matt Sporleder agreed, saying "I think we need to follow
the government mandates. As far as the deal with people...what Peggy is doing is the right thing."

County health director Dr. Greg Heumann also asked that screenings and temperature checks inside county buildings continue, said Roe, which the commissioners agreed to do. A screener will continue monitoring entrance to the Courthouse Annex.

Other issues discussed included a report that county offices are almost out of masks and need more hand sanitizers. It was agreed to purchase 5000 masks for 45 cents per for a total of $2250 and a case of hand sanitizer for $158.

As local businesses and residents are now faced with wearing masks, Roe has some advice.

"Wear your mask and wash your hands. Be safe, if not for yourself for those that you love."

As for those who refuse to wear a mask because they think COVID is a hoax, she has some advice, too.

"Just do it or stay home."

The mask directive will not be enforced by the Jennings County Sheriff Office or the North Vernon Police Department. Meeting Monday night, the North Vernon City Council were adamant that they will not enact any ordnance regarding the wearing of masks.

Rather, the governor's directive gives the state and local health departments responsbility to enforce the mandate "through education about the importance of wearing face coverings and dispelling myths and misconceptions about the use and/or the benefits of the requirement.





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