County: Community safety is our top priorityMarch 17, 2020
By CANDY NEAL
County officials have talked about how they are keeping up to date and preparing in light of the ever-changing COVID-19 situation.
The Dubois County Commissioners passed a resolution Monday concerning the public accessing county facilities. And a countywide planning committee has been established, County Health Department Administrative Director Jo Ann Spaulding told the commissioners.
As of this morning, the Indiana State Department of Health had reported 30 COVID-19 cases across the state and two reported deaths from the virus.
There are no confirmed COVID-19 cases in Dubois County. “However, this could change quickly, and we must be prepared,” Spaulding said.
Daily updates will be provided to the community, she said.
Spaulding listed some of the agencies on the countywide planning committee: the health department, emergency management agency, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center, the sheriff’s office, school corporations, Holy Trinity Catholic School and Vincennes University Jasper. Also included are business leaders and leaders of the local municipalities, towns and established communities in the county. This is not an all-inclusive list, she said.
The group is “working together, jointly on a daily basis to take proactive measures to reduce the potential to acquire or spread the virus in our community,” Spaulding said. “The safety, health and wellness of our community is our mission and top priority.”
The health department keeps in touch with the Indiana State Department of Health; that includes a weekly webinar meeting that is held at 11 a.m. Tuesdays.
The commissioners passed a resolution concerning the virus and county-owned and county-maintained properties. The resolution states that people experiencing flu-like symptoms, or those who have COVID-19 or were exposed to someone who has the virus, are not to come to county-owned or county-maintained property unless it is required by court order. People coming to county property may be subjected to non-invasive screenings, including temperature taking, to assess any potential concerns. They may also be asked to answer questions:
• Are you experiencing symptoms of fever, cough or shortness of breath?
• Have you been in close contact with someone confirmed or who is being evaluated for COVID-19?
• Have you recently visited an area that is subject to quarantine because of COVID-19 infection?
If people say yes to the questions or exhibit the symptoms of illness, they may be denied access to county property.
The resolution is set to expire April 19, but will be extended if needed.
“The risk to the average American is still low, but the situation is evolving and that can change at any time,” Commissioners President Chad Blessinger said. “If you look on Indiana [State Health Department] map, Southern Indiana is looking pretty good. But one reason for that maybe is that there’s no testing that has been done yet. So you never know. Things can change quickly. This is a new territory for all the people.”
Signage alerting the public of the resolution’s listed precautions will be posted at county buildings and offices. The resolution will also be posted on the county’s website, www.duboiscountyin.org, and Facebook page.
County Highway Supervisor Steve Berg expressed extra concern for the recycling/sanitation sites because most of them are manned by a worker who is elderly.
“They are at a higher risk,” Emergency Management Agency head Tammy Humbert said.
Berg asked for large signs so that he can post them at the sites.
The commissioners also confirmed that they are ready to act in an emergency, should they need to meet to declare any other emergency orders or resolutions.
There have been no orders for quarantine or isolations, Spaulding said. People have been recommended to lessen contact with others and not gather with large groups.
Citizens are encouraged to follow the guidance and recommendations from the governor and state health department, Spaulding said. People showing symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath should call their doctor’s office or the emergency department before they arrive and tell them about their recent travels, along with their symptoms, she explained.
“The most important thing you can do right now is just educate yourself about the virus,” Spaulding said. “More information can be found at the Indiana State Department of Health or CDC websites that are linked to our Dubois County Health Department homepage.”
The health department’s website is included in the county’s website at www.duboiscountyin.org.
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