The Boone County Commissioners voted to let the county’s state of emergency resolution expire at their Sept. 21 meeting, though all safety mitigation and sanitation efforts will continue at county buildings, offices and other public spaces.
The commissioners allowed the resolution to lapse due to an array of factors. The Boone County Health Dept. is reporting fewer COVID-19 cases, and Witham Hospital Services’ hospital census numbers remain low. Tom Ryan, the BCHD’s emergency preparedness coordinator, said the county had identified at least two locations that could serve as flu clinics and potential sites where residents could receive COVID-19 immunizations if or when a viable vaccine is developed and made available to the public.
One of the sites identified, Witham Hospital’s ambulance bay, will host a drive-thru flu clinic from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 3. Ryan said the flu clinic would allow the county to use the site and coordinate procedures before using it to distribute COVID-19 vaccines.
The other potential site Ryan identified was the Boone County 4-H Fairgrounds. He said identifying two sites would prepare the county to be able to disburse immunizations by late-October or early-November, the earliest estimated date the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expects a vaccine could be ready for distribution. Initially, a vaccine would be given to those most in need – health care workers, populations disproportionately affected by the virus, such as those in nursing homes – before being distributed to the remainder of residents in a phased release.
Claire Haughton, the BCHD’s public health educator, said Sept. 18 that data appears to show the county did not see a surge in COVID-19 patients during the Labor Day weekend, when health experts feared a surge similar to the one following the Fourth of July Holiday. Last week, the BCHD reported 38 additional COVID-19 cases. It reported 43 new cases last week and 56 cases two weeks ago. The county, according to the department, has had 51 COVID-19 deaths, a figure that has not changed in nearly two months.
During the meeting, the commissioners said they would consider renewing the resolution to allow Boone County Commissioners Board President Donnie Lawson to make executive decisions, such as allowing COVID-19 related expenditures without the need for a public meeting, if needed. The county’s unified command team will continue to meet thought he resolution has been allowed to expire.
“This was for us as a county to move quickly if we needed to move quickly,” Ryan said.
Ryan said daily life for Boone County residents would go unchanged by the commissioners’ decision to let the resolution expire. Residents are still mandated to wear a mask to comply with Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order. Residents are also encouraged to social distance, wash their hands and practice all other COVID-19 mitigation efforts.