Proclamation recommends face masks in county


County officials came together Friday afternoon to urge Dubois County residents to wear facial coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 through the community.

Following the increase in positive COVID-19 cases — which County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart described as “alarming” — in the county in the past week, leaders from local government, the Dubois County Health Department, Memorial Hospital and Health Care Center and Dubois County Emergency Management held a joint virtual press conference via YouTube Friday. During the conference, they offered an update on COVID-19 in Dubois County and urged residents to wear masks, practice social distancing and continue frequently washing their hands.

“Wearing masks and social distancing has been studied and shown to be effective,” Waflart said. “I truly believe we can slow the spread if all our Dubois County residents do their best to follow these guidelines. I believe we can continue to reopen and be an active community if we make these few minor sacrifices of wearing masks and social distancing.”

Data from the Dubois County Health Department shows 91 new positive COVID-19 cases were reported for the county from Saturday, July 11 to Friday morning. One additional death was also reported this week. Current data from the Dubois County Health Department lists 388 positive COVID-19 cases in the county, seven deaths, 266 patients recovered and 3,697 patients tested.

During the joint press conference, representatives of the health department and Memorial Hospital shared that the rapid uptick in positive cases in the county is a cause for concern. Memorial Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. Stan Tretter shared that the county’s health care system is seeing an increase in symptomatic patients at the hospital and at the urgent care center in Huntingburg.

“We have seen a significant increase in the number of symptomatic patients requiring testing and also have seen more hospitalizations due to COVID-19,” Tretter said.

County government leaders also presented a joint proclamation during the press conference. The proclamation declares masks recommended throughout Dubois County anytime residents are interacting with those outside their homes.

“To give us the best chance of keeping the most people in our community safe, the commissioners support all community members wearing a mask when social distancing is not possible,” said Commissioners President Chad Blessinger. “I myself could do better, and I ask that all others in Dubois County do better as well.”

The proclamation was signed by Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide, Huntingburg Mayor Denny Spinner, Holland Town Council President Tom Thacker, Ferdinand Town Council President Ken Sicard, Birdseye Town Council President Bret Eckert and Blessinger for the commissioners.

According to the joint proclamation, if the spread of COVID-19 through the county is not slowed, stronger measures will be considered. Those measures can include a mask mandate and/or another stay-at-home order.

“Don’t be that person that is so self-centered you’re willing to risk the lives of others,” Vonderheide said. “Please protect the other members of our community by doing your part. Embrace our personal and social responsibility to mask up. We’re in this together and can make a difference by committing to the protection of others by our actions. We want to avoid unnecessary suffering and death because we can.”

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