While Kosciusko County continues to be at the “orange” state advisory level for COVID-19, the city of Warsaw will make a difference if that color turns red – the worst of the four levels.

The county was blue – the lowest level – in May.

The Warsaw school board voted 5-1 on Tuesday night to return to the mask mandate, starting Friday. Tippecanoe Valley High School and the Burket Education Center returned to virtual education on Tuesday, but schools will return to in-person education on Monday.

During Wednesday’s COVID-19 press conference, Mayor Joe Thalemer said, “I wanted to talk a little bit about what the city is doing with regards to mitigation protocols. Basically, we are primarily looking at concerns about gatherings inside our municipal buildings. We will encourage masking at all city facilities and provide masks at building entrances. “

He said they will continue to maintain social distancing. The town hall was to be “re-equipped” Wednesday morning to distribute seats for public meetings. Protective screens will be reinstalled and hand sanitizer will be available.

“Indoor activities and meetings will be limited to 10 people in person in city buildings. We will try to have all these meetings here in the Council Chamber where we can expand, ”he said.

If the county is designated as a “red consultative level,” Thalemer said all public meetings would take a virtual format. The red advisory level will also trigger all internal city meetings with more than 10 participants to move to a virtual format.

“Emergency responders continue with their COVID protocols when communicating with the public during emergency races. I will not go into details on this, but they are obviously continuing, ”he said.

The Parks and Recreation Department tries to control and minimize the problems associated with large indoor gatherings. For this reason, Daddy’s Sweetheart Dance 2021 has been postponed until February.

“Where possible, larger events will switch to an outdoor format,” he said. As an example, indoor events of the Light Up the Night 2021 Christmas event will be limited to 20 attendees, with masking encouraged. The majority of the event’s programming will take place outdoors.

A number of events are planned for this weekend, including the John Dillinger Raid at the Old Jail Museum; the 9/11 ceremony and parade in front of the Center Lake pavilion; and the Kettleheads Homebrew Fest and Kosciusko Chamber’s Taste of Kosciusko in downtown Warsaw, every Saturday.

Thalemer said organizers were working with the Kosciusko County Health Department to maintain safety protocols. Since these are outdoor events, there is not as much concern as if they were indoor events.

“But we are allowing the health ministry to work with organizations to make the last call,” he said.

Homebrew Fest is in a tent. Thalemer said its organizers are working with the health ministry to ensure safety protocols are established to this effect. The Department of Health follows state guidelines as advisory levels change.

County commissioner Cary Groninger said the county is not changing much. The county has never removed its barriers, hand sanitizer, etc. The county has no major events planned at this point.

“I know we are making sure we have the resources for the county health department,” he said.

Earlier in the press conference, public health official Dr William Remington said the county continued to see a significant increase in “delta-spring COVID cases in our county.” We have been around 11,000 cases for over a year. 300 more cases, at least, since last week.

The county has 131 deaths, up from 128 a week ago.

“We remain at an orange notice according to the color-coded county-by-county notice from the Indiana Department of Health. We were orange a week ago. We were blue in May which is more favorable, ”said Remington. “Our positivity, which is one of the things the metric tracks closely, is 12.5%. At worst, in November, we were 26%. We were at 7.8% a week ago. An important positivity. We really didn’t see this positivity until the winter of last year, in mid-January and mid-November.

He said Kosciusko registers an average of 44 new cases per day. At worst in November, that average was 134. A week ago, the average was 35.

“So it’s over; 318 weekly cases per 100,000, another measure the state is monitoring closely, we were 217 a week ago, ”Remington said.

As for hospitalizations in Indiana, they are up “approximately 300 compared to a week ago”. Still down about 1,000 from where the state was in December, which was the peak in hospitalizations.

Regarding vaccination statistics, Remington said 6.3 million doses have been administered in the state of Indiana; 3.1 million Hoosiers have been fully immunized.

In Kosciusko County, he said there have been around 300 new fully immunized people over the past week, which puts the county at 42% of those eligible for vaccination (ages 12 and older) now fully immune.

As for “emerging topics,” Remington said the hot topic was Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb’s executive order from last week and the guidelines from the Indiana Department of Health that followed.

“It doesn’t take our foot off the accelerator with communicable disease control expectations (in relation to) COVID, that’s clear,” he said. “It gives schools a bit of evidence-based olive branch to be completely covered up.”

He referred to a large study from Duke University that resulted in a message of “you wear a mask, you stay in school”.

Remington said he sent a letter of strong support on Tuesday as the county’s public health official to principals reflecting his full support for Holcomb’s decree and advice from the ISDH.

The county health department continues to offer the COVID vaccination on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings. Patients can choose the vaccine they want.

To get vaccinated against COVID-19, people can always go to ourshot.in.gov to schedule one; call 211; or go to their pharmacy.

Referring again to Holcomb’s decree and the Department of Health’s position, Remington said when cases declined in June, he released a position paper, which was sent to schools, claiming the Department of Health Health supported learning in the classroom.

“And we will largely deviate from the guidelines of the State Department of Health, but if the feeling that it deviates from our community, its temperament and its epidemiology … then we would be willing to deviate from the guidelines. state, ”Remington said. “Historically, throughout this pandemic, administratively, it has served us well to be joined at the hip with advice from the state Department of Health during this pandemic.”

He said it was clear that Kosciusko County was not the only county to think like this. In no time, the SDH made it clear that there were constant expectations regarding reporting, quarantine and testing.

Business was quiet in June. At the end of July and August, cases of COVID-19 started to increase.

“So at this point our Department of Health will revert to that administrative motive that has served us well during the heat of battle for the past 18 months. And it is that we will be closely linked to the new directions of the State Department of Health, ”he said.