Task force discusses mask mandate
By Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Senior Staff Writer, [email protected]
While many people don’t like the idea at all, the fact is Gov. Eric Holcomb has mandated that all Hoosiers wear face coverings in public to slow the spread of COVID-19. At its July 28 meeting, the Crawford County coronavirus task force said they know people aren’t happy about it.
“It’s a kind of situation where people are tired of being told what to do,” said Morton Dale, president of the board of commissioners. “ … The new mask rules are either going to prove it’s the way to go or it’s not.”
Eric Satterfield, county environmental health specialist, said businesses commonly mandate attire for customers.
“You’ve got to wear a shirt if you go in, you have to wear shoes; now you have to wear a mask,” he said. “It’s not like they’re asking you do so something unreasonable. If you want to come in, wear one.”
Dale said he is pleased with county employees’ response to the task force’s safety guidelines.
“As far as government offices, for the most part I think they’ve done a good job keeping workers safe and keeping the public safe,” he said.
EMS director Tim Farris said the ambulance service run volume seems to be high, but it’s actually not.
“It’s been so slow for a while that the volume seems spiked,” he said. “But for this time of year, it’s normal. We do see an increase in runs in the summer due to an increase of people in the county.”
As of Aug. 2, Crawford County had a total of 42 confirmed COVID-19 cases with eight active and three new. There were no hospitalizations as of that date and there have been no deaths.
Satterfield said the number of hospitalizations is a key factor in the state determining how to respond.
“It’s leveled out for now,” he said referring to hospitalizations statewide, “but if it goes up, (Holcomb) will probably roll it back. That’s what we want to avoid.”
Some residents have asked about a testing site being established in the county. Satterfield said Crawford could partner with a neighboring county and receive funding for a site. The logistics, however, just aren’t workable. The site would have to be staffed as required by the state. Even if the health department did nothing else, it still would not have adequate staff to handle a testing site.
“It’s not feasible,” he said. “That’s why we haven’t done it.”
Once a county signs up, Satterfield said, testing must be offered six days a week.
It was again noted that the cases in Crawford County have been widespread and there have been no hot spots. That’s largely due to the rural nature of the county, task force members believe.
Dr. Martin Dixon shared some perspective from a physician regarding the virus.
“I think every day treatments are getting better,” he said.
Dixon noted because of how deaths are identified, it’s difficult to determine exactly how many are actually the result of coronavirus. COVID-19 deaths, he said, are lumped in with other causes, such as pneumonia.
“They’re not called COVID deaths; they’re called COVID-associated deaths,” he said. “It’s a subtle change, but it kind of takes the truth out of it.”
Referring to numbers from the week ending July 18 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dixon said some of the 677 patients who died could also have had bacterial pneumonia, not coronavirus.
“It’s difficult to pin down,” he said.
The task force will continue meeting weekly, each Tuesday at 10 a.m. in the Emergency Management Agency office, for the time being.