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HC COVID-19 cases climb to 15

Health official mandates closure of many non-essential services
HC COVID-19 cases climb to 15
HC COVID-19 cases climb to 15
Denise Mathes, left, Chelsey Kaiser and Gabrielle Fessel check a shipment of personal protective equipment that included gloves and gowns that arrived Thursday at Harrison County Hospital. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor,¬†Editor,¬†[email protected]

Since local health officials reported the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Harrison County on March 20, the number of persons who have tested positive for the coronavirus had climbed to 15 as of yesterday morning (Tuesday).

Neighboring Crawford County reported its first confirmed case on Friday; that number increased to three yesterday.

To the east of Harrison, the number of confirmed cases in Floyd County was at 21 yesterday, and, to the north, Washington County had six.

The total number of persons in Indiana with the virus was at 2,159, as reported yesterday morning by the Indiana State Dept. of Health. Of the state’s 92 counties, only 11 have no confirmed cases of COVID-19.

State health officials said an additional 1,715 tests had been reported to the Indiana State Dept. of Health since Monday, bringing the total number to 13,373.

Forty-nine of those who tested positive have died. Twenty-three counties have reported deaths, with the most occurring in Marion County (17). The next highest reported number of deaths is in Lake County (5). The closest to Harrison County is Scott County.

On Friday, Dr. Andrew Morton, Harrison County’s health officer, mandated the closure of many non-essential services as well as golf courses. It also addressed gatherings.

Morton made the mandate in accordance with the Harrison County Commissioners’ local proclamation  in an effort to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

Here’s what the mandate applies to:

All golf courses, golf pro-shops/clubhouses, automobile dealers (with the exception of services), furniture stores, electronic and appliance stores, cosmetic stores, personal care stores, clothing and shoe stores, jewelry stores, sporting goods stores, music shops, book stores, hobby/craft stores, florists, karate schools and in-person auctions.

No gatherings of any kind inside or out of groups greater than 10, and groups of 10 must maintain a distance of six feet at all times.

Exemptions to this mandate are: auto and appliance repair services, car rentals, home and garden supply dealers, banks, credit unions and other financial services, grocery and markets, liquor stores, pharmacies, gas stations, supercenters, pet stores and curbside and carry-out food services.

This mandate went into effect at 9 p.m. Friday.

All non-essential services shall remain closed until further notice from the Harrison County Health Dept.

Last Wednesday morning, the Harrison County Board of Commissioners signed a new proclamation that expands on a declaration of a local disaster emergency it made March 19. The commissioners also extended the local disaster emergency declaration for an additional 30 days.

Among the points made in the new proclamation, signed March 25, are:

The Harrison County Justice Center, Jail, Court House, Highway Dept. garage, Government Center, EMS facility, Animal Control Facility, Soil & Water office and Solid Waste facility are closed to the general public.

County employees and elected officials working in the justice center and jail shall continue to have access to them and continue to work their regular schedule until further notice.

The general public shall have limited access to the justice center and courthouse as deemed necessary by the judge of Harrison Superior Court and judge of Harrison Circuit Court to attend essential hearings as directed and scheduled by the judges. Access to the court-related matters shall be limited to the courtrooms and hallways leading to the courtrooms.

EMS employees and individuals providing emergency medical services shall continue to have access to the facilities and continue to work regular schedules until further notice.

County highway employees shall continue to have access to the highway garage and continue to work regular schedules until further notice.

The general public will have limited access as scheduled by appointment at the government center. Individuals working in the government center shall continue to have access to the facilities and work regular schedules as determined by their elected officeholder superior or department head.

Access to the county probation offices shall be left to the discretion of the chief probation officers as deemed necessary and appropriate to carry out the functions of the probation departments.

Access to the county health department shall be left to the discretion of the county health officer.

Recycling drop-off sites throughout the county are open for drop-offs but no drop-offs will be permitted inside the building. Solid Waste employees shall continue to have access to the facilities and continue to work regular schedules as possible until further notice.

Harrison County Animal Control individuals shall continue to have access to the facilities and continue to work regular schedules until further notice.

Employees of the soil and water office shall continue to have access to the facilities and continue to work regular schedules as possible until further notice.

All county offices shall remain open during the closure of county facilities and make any necessary adjustments to provide essential services necessary to the public. The county auditor was instructed to post the telephone numbers for each county office on the entrance of all county buildings, advising the public to call the office if additional assistance is needed by the particular county office.

Gov. Eric Holcomb continues to provide updates at 2:30 p.m. daily. Those briefings have included Dr. Kristina Box, commissioner of the ISDH; Dr. Jennifer McCormick, the state’s superintendent of public instruction; Doug Carter, superintendent of the Indiana State Police; Jim Schellinger, state secretary of commerce; Fred Payne, commissioner of the Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development; Joe McGuinness, commissioner of the Indiana Dept. of Transportation; Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch; and others.

Box said Monday that she anticipates the peak number of cases and deaths in Indiana to take place between the middle of April and mid-May. However, she added there are variations from the different models that provide estimates.

Highlights from those briefings during the past week include:

Holcomb said he and McCormick will provide an update no later than tomorrow regarding the 2019-20 school year. The governor announced on March 19 that all schools in the state would be out until May 1.

The governor sent a letter to President Donald Trump requesting a major disaster declaration for Indiana.

An executive order was issued by Holcomb to further stop elective procedures which will allow for personal protective equipment to be used solely for medical staff who are helping COVID-19 patients. That same order temporarily allows retired medical professionals and people still working to become professionals, such as students and physicians who are still receiving training, to practice and help patients who need care. Box said yesterday that the number of medical persons who have volunteered had reached 11,000, not including those who are still receiving training (the number of volunteers on Monday was 5,300).

Holcomb said local law enforcement has the decision on whether or not to monitor people regarding the state‚Äôs ‚Äústay at home‚ÄĚ order.

The mandate to have a Real ID for air travel has been extended from Oct. 1 to September 2021.

The Indianapolis 500, which normally takes place the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, has been postponed until Aug. 23 and INDYCar’s GMR Grand Prix, which was scheduled for May 9, and NASCAR’s Xfinity Series race now are set for July 4.

Information about COVID-19 can be found online at