“[This] is exactly what public health officials have been warning the public about since the beginning of the pandemic,” Angela Cox said of the news that Henry County’s hospital is almost full from COVID-19 patients.

Cox, a registered nurse, is the administrator of Henry County Health Department. She has been the face of local public health policy since the coronavirus hit Henry County in 2020.

Henry County is currently designated Orange on the Indiana Department of Health COVID-19 dashboard.

The data shows Henry County has 585 residents (out of 100,000) who are positive for COVID-19. That number gives Henry County a “3” in that category.

Henry County’s 7-day positivity rate was at 14.46 percent on Friday, earning a “2.5” in that metric. If Henry County goes above 14.9 percent, we will be rated as a “3” in that category.

That increase would turn the county Red on the state tracking map.

More information on the state’s scoring system can be found at https://www.coronavirus.in.gov/map/CountyScoringMapDetails.pdf.

“The question I am getting most often is, ‘Will we see mandates if and when we go red?’ My answer is ‘Doubtful,’” Cox said. “Indiana constituents have made it very clear that they believe such decisions should be made at the local level by the local governing body and not by a state or local health department alone. The Indiana Legislature went so far as to pass Senate Enrolled Act 5 to ensure this. Any ‘proposed’ mandate from a local board of health and health department during a declared public health emergency, must be approved by the local legislative body first.

“The medical community has provided all U.S. citizens with an abundance of education about COVID-19 and how to keep you and everyone around you safe,” Cox continued. “Henry County Health Department and the Board of Health continues to STRONGLY encourage EVERYONE to follow the CDC guidance regarding the mitigation of COVID-19. The situation we are in right now is what happens when we do not follow time tested, scientific disease control measures.”

A COVID-19 vaccine continues to be made available to all citizens 12 years and older for free.

Without leaving Henry County, all three types of COVID vaccines are available to the public for free.

The Health Department makes COVID vaccines available to home-bound clients for free.

Information is also free about how to properly isolate when you have COVID-19 and how to properly quarantine when you are exposed.

“I’m not sure what else we can do,” Cox said.

COVID-19 ‘strike team’ returning

The Indiana Department of Health told Cox on Thursday that the state’s COVID-19 strike team will be in Henry County next weekend, Sept. 24-25.

The IDOH team will be at Henry County Memorial Park from Noon until 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Follow the signs around the W.G. Smith Building.

They will also have enough staff and supplies to provide 300 COVID-19 tests per day, plus free vaccinations.

The site will provide free rapid on-site and lab testing.

They will also have Pfizer vaccines for people 12 and older and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine for people 18 and older.

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