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Commissioners suggest training related to mandate

First phase of COVID vaccine for HC begins
Commissioners suggest training related to mandate Commissioners suggest training related to mandate
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]

As the Harrison County Board of Commissioners and Health Dept. continue to discuss how to handle a business that reportedly isn’t enforcing the state’s mask mandate, distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has started in the area.

At a special commissioners’ meeting last Wednesday, county health department administrator Carrie Herthel noted her office has finally been in contact with the Circle K gas station, located at the intersection of state roads 62 and 135 in Corydon.

According to the Circle K COVID-19 policy, people inside the business are required to wear masks; however, the business takes a non-confrontational approach to customers not following the rules in order to protect their employees from argumentative or aggressive behavior.

Commissioner Charlie Crawford suggested due to the gas station’s policy, it could be an option that the health department looks into training for employees at businesses which are struggling to have customers comply with the mask mandates on how to better handle these situations.

Herthel said she believes employees would be open to these discussions or training and would look into that as a possibility.

Greg Reas, director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, made note at the meeting that masks should not be a problem for any business to keep at their counters or somewhere in reach for customers.

Any business seeking information about how to obtain masks for their business should call the EMA office at 812-738-8949.

Herthel also requested from the commissioners at the meeting that her staff at the health department be able to roll over into 2021 their flex days they would normally have used in 2020. She had previously made this request with vacation and sick days but also wanted to include the flex days as well.

Crawford suggested the commissioners extend this option to all public safety departments in Harrison County as a token of appreciation for their work during the pandemic, as they more than likely weren’t able to use accrued time or flex days either.

Crawford’s motion, seconded by Jim Heitkemper, to allow county public safety employees’ 2020 flex days be allowed to carry over into 2021 passed 2-0. Commissioner Kenny Saulman was not present.

According to the county health department, distribution of the vaccine will be phased in, with the first round going to staff at long-term care facilities and front-line health care workers who may be exposed to persons with the virus.

Herthel said in a news release that persons who meet this criteria will be vaccinated at Baptist Health Floyd in New Albany.

“At this time, the vaccine is not being distributed to the general public and there is not a waiting list for the vaccine,” she said. “The Harrison County Health Dept. expects to use an online scheduling tool to make the vaccine distribution more streamlined when the vaccine is available.”

To be effective, the vaccine requires two doses; recipients are not fully immunized from the virus until both doses are received.

While the time line for additional phases of vaccine administration is yet to be determined, Herthel said the health department is expanding its current vaccination plan and looking at various locations and options for vaccination clinics.

The health department reported there have been two additional deaths from the virus — two men, one 68 and the other 65, both with underlying health conditions — since last week, bringing the total to 36.

An additional 215 residents have tested positive for the virus since last week, making a total of 2,561 Harrison Countians who have contracted the virus. Since the outbreak started, 14,507 tests have been performed on county residents, with 422 done in the past week.

Statewide, an additional 254,490 tests have been completed, bringing the total to 5,585,093. There have been 500,282 positive cases recorded, an increase of 28,406 since the week prior, and 7,703 deaths, up from 7,244 last week. A total of 348 Hoosiers are believed to have had the virus at the time of their death but no test was completed to confirm; that’s up 11 since last week.

The Harrison County Board of Commissioners are scheduled to meet in special session today (Wednesday) at noon; an update from the health department regarding COVID-19 is on the agenda.