Mask up, Dubois County

By Kathy Tretter

Editor n ferdnews@psci.net

The powers that be in Dubois County announced via YouTube Friday afternoon, that wearing masks, while not mandated, is highly recommended.

Cases in Dubois County have been ticking ever upward, hence the reason county, city and town government officials issued a joint proclamation.

Those leading the zoomed conference included Shawn Werner with the Dubois County Health Department; Tammy Humbert, Executive Director of Dubois County Emergency Management; Dr. Stan Tretter, Chief Medical Officer with Memorial Hospital and Health Care; Dr. Theodore Waflart, Dubois County Health Officer; and elected officials.

Werner noted that in the previous six days, 91 additional residents had been diagnosed with COVID-19 and one more death was reported, bringing the number to seven.

Of the 3,697 people tested, 388 were positive and of those, 266 have recovered.

Dr. Tretter said the hospital is concerned about the increase and is seeing more symptomatic patients, including more needed hospitalizations.

Ferdinand Town Council President Ken Sicard read the proclamation (listed below) and noted that like many, he, too, eased up a bit too much when restrictions were lifted. “Wear a mask, maintain six feet of distance and wash your hands frequently. We need to start with ourselves. Please wear your mask when you go out.”

Dubois County Council President Chad Blessinger added that wearing masks “gives us the best chance of keeping most of our citizens safe.” He encouraged everyone to wear them for the benefit of all.

Jasper Mayor Dean Vonderheide was blunt: “Don’t be that person who is so self-centered you risk the lives of others. We want to avoid unnecessary suffering and death — because we can!”

Dr. Waflart thanked everyone who has observed the suggestions for halting the spread of COVID-19 and noted the Health Department has worked tirelessly to stop the spread, but the positive cases are climbing at an alarming rate. He noted that wearing masks, along with social distancing and hand-washing has been shown to stop the spread.

Tammy Humbert reminded, “If you are sick, STAY Home. And if you’ve been tested stay home just in case,” until you receive your results.

Werner returned to the screen as the final speaker. After asking (actually, begging) all businesses and residents to wear masks, he said, “No matter what your beliefs, do it for your parents, your co-workers, the mother and father with a newborn at home you pass in the grocery store, your grandparents…” He concluded, “Most of all, do it for yourself so you can say you have done your part for Dubois County.”

JOINT PROCLAMATION

WHEREAS, Dubois County has experienced an increase of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks, with spread growing exponentially. The alarming growth of cases threatens the gains Dubois County earned in the early fight against the spread of COVID-19;

WHEREAS, if the trajectory of new infections continues to grow at the current rate, there will be devastating effects of COVID-19 on our local economy and society;

WHEREAS, with schools resuming in August, our community must do more to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Dubois County in order to safely return our students to the classroom. Without adequate community cooperation in place we cannot protect our youngest and most vulnerable citizens;

WHEREAS, the time for voluntary measures is quickly closing unless our community can stem the rate of COVlD-19 spread. Without responsible commitment from the public, more drastic measures, including renewed stay-at-home orders or a mask mandate, will be considered to contain the dangerous spread of the pandemic, causing more economic and societal hardship;

WHEREAS, the overwhelming consensus among epidemiologists is the widespread use of a face mask is necessary to prevent more rapid spread of COVID-19, and thereby necessary for the safety and health of citizens, residents, and visitors to Dubois County;

WHEREAS, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) recommends that members of the public, when they need to interact with others outside the home, especially in indoor settings, should cover the mouth and nose to prevent inadvertently spreading COVID-19;

WHEREAS, the Dubois County Health Department, through County Health Officer Dr. Ted Waflart, declares this action vital to public health and well-being.  

NOW, THEREFORE, effective immediately, and remaining effective until expiration or termination of the Governor’s declaration of public health emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic, a face mask in public is recommended. All individuals are encouraged to wear a face covering when they need to interact with others outside the home, especially in indoor settings. A face mask should cover the mouth and nose to prevent inadvertently spreading COVID-19. Exceptions to these recommendations are set forth on “Exhibit A”.

Dated July 17, 2020

Dean Vonderheide, Mayor, City of Jasper

Dennis Spinner, Mayor, City of Huntingburg

Chad Blessinger, President, Dubois County Commissioners

Tom Thacker, President, Town of Holland

Ken Sicard, President, Town of Ferdinand

Bret Eckert, Town of Birdseye

This recommendation does not apply to individuals who:

• Are unable to wear a face covering for a physical, medical, or health-related reason, including those who are hearing or speaking impaired and for whom a face covering is an obstacle to communication;

• Are alone in a room in a public building;

• Have a job for which wearing a mask presents a safety risk;

• Are incarcerated;

• Are seated at a restaurant, bar, or other establishment that serves food and/or drink, while they are eating or drinking; however, individuals should wear face coverings in restaurants or bars in all other situations.

• Are experiencing an emergency situation in which they lack the time or means to put on a face covering.

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