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Virus alters Memorial Day traditions

Virus alters Memorial Day traditions
Virus alters Memorial Day traditions
John Stepro adjusts a safety barrier in the Harrison County Clerk’s Office at the downtown courthouse Thursday in preparation of county government offices re-opening to the public yesterday (Tuesday). Offices had been closed since late March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]

Memorial Day weekend in Harrison County was different than past years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Missing were the annual parade followed by a service at Rose Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth; those were postponed until July. Swimming pools and the beach did not open, marking the unofficial start of summer; the Harrison County Parks Dept., which is to meet tonight (Wednesday), is ironing out plans for those facilities. VFW Old Capitol Post 2950 followed orders from the Veterans Administration and did not have its memorial service on Saturday at Cedar Hill Cemetery in Corydon.

However, those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country were still remembered.

One such tribute occurred Monday the Hurley D. Conrad Memorial Bandstand on the Corydon town square.

Amid a light drizzle, Phil Reich stood alone on the gazebo and played “taps” on his trumpet.

Jim Koerber of Corydon said it was a last-minute idea to ask Reich to participate in a request made by Jari Villanueva, a retired Air Force bugler, and Steve Hartman, a correspondent with “CBS Sunday Morning.” Those who chose to honor the request were asked to submit a video, some of which were to be shown on the “CBS Evening News” yesterday (Tuesday) at part of Hartman’s “Taps Across America” segment.

Following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s five-stage Back on Track plan, numerous businesses re-opened, at limited capacity in order to follow social-distancing guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and, locally, requirements made by the Harrison County Health Dept. as the state moved into Stage 3 (due to the number of positive cases of the novel coronavirus in Cass, Lake and Marion counties, those counties are set to enter Stage 3 on Monday).

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners let expire its executive order that closed county government offices to the public.

Last week, safety barriers were put in place where county employees interact with the public. John Stepro, who oversees the facilities department, said they were waiting on another shipment of shields so the remaining offices could be equipped with similar barriers.

Also, county government began meeting in person, with the county council meeting last night at the government center. Seating will be limited in the commissioners/council room to meet social-distancing guidelines.

Holcomb has said the state could delay moving into the next stage or even return to an earlier stage, depending on circumstances.

Scheduled to begin June 14, Stage 4 is to include lifting access to state government buildings, professional office buildings can re-open, retail stores can operate at full capacity (presently they are to be at 75%), restaurants will be allowed to increase seating capacity from 50% to 75%, and bars, including bar seating, and nightclubs can begin operating at 50%

The final phase is scheduled to begin July 4.

Holcomb is to give an update today at 2:30 p.m., his first since Friday afternoon.

As of yesterday, the number of Hoosiers who have died from the coronavirus was at 1,850 (up from 1,678 last week); 230,749 have been tested (previous week’s total was 189,330) with 32,078 of those confirmed positive (28,705 reported positive a week earlier). Another 154 residents are believed to have been COVID-19 positive when they died but no test had been performed; that’s up eight since last week.

In Harrison County, there have been two more people — an 82-year-old man and an 87-year-old woman — die as a result of COVID-19, bringing the total to 21.

The number of local residents tested has reached 1,111, up from 908 a week earlier; of those, 187 have tested positive, an increase of 13.

Looking at neighboring counties, Crawford has 23 positive cases of the virus with 265 residents tested; Floyd has 314 positive cases of the 2,013 tested residents and has reported 38 deaths; and Washington has had 511 residents tested with 52 of them being positive and has had one death.

OptumServe continues to perform free COVID-19 tests at the Harrison County Fairgrounds in Corydon for those who are symptomatic, have been in close contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive, have an underlying health condition or are 65 or older. Those wishing to be tested must have an appointment (walk-ins will not be accepted), which can be made online at Persons without internet access or who need to register a minor should call 1-888-634-1116.

Appointments are available between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays until June 5.