Ripley County now in stage 4
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTO
As retail, commercial businesses and malls open to full capacity, Governor Eric Holcomb, along with health officials caution anyone 65 and over with high-risk health conditions, to remain at home as much as possible. Face coverings (masks) are also recommended in public places.
With Stage Four in full swing, Hoosiers can now have social gatherings of up to 250 people as long as the social distancing guidelines are followed, which means staying six feet apart.
Restaurants can now open to 75 percent capacity, along with bar seating in restaurants being open to 50 percent capacity. Bars and nightclubs can open at 50 percent – all of these openings coming with the social distancing guidelines.
Along with eating places, the following places are open at 50 percent capacity: cultural, entertainment, tourism sites, movie theaters, bowling alleys, and similar facilities. Playgrounds are now reopened just in time for summer fun.
“I’m grateful to Hoosiers who have helped maintain our momentum and slow the spread of COVID-19 by exercising caution and following health guidance,” Gov. Holcomb said. “As we advance to Stage 4 and further reopen Indiana for business, we’ll continue to monitor our progress and make data-informed decisions.”
Using data has been the driving force as the Governor gets Indiana further toward the goal of totally reopening the state. Information released from his office revealed the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide has decreased for 14 days; the state retains it surge capacity for critical care beds and ventilators; the state retains its ability to test all Hoosiers who are COVID-19 symptomatic as well as health care workers, first responders, and frontline employees; and health officials have systems in place to contact all individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and expand contact tracing.
Pari-mutuel horse racing is now permitted with no spectators at Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand facilities. Charity gaming and casinos opened this week with the approval of the Indiana Gaming Commission.
Opening the state is a big step and one the Governor is fully looking forward to doing. However, as the restrictions are lifted and more people are moving about, participating in more activities, the number of COVID-19 cases could rise. He noted that if this happens, the state might have to move backward, something he hopes doesn’t happen.
At this point conventions, fairs, festivals, parades, and similar events remain closed. The Governor noted that if health indicators remain positive, the state will move to Stage 5 in early July.
Local health department officials warn that COVID-19 is still present. “We encourage everyone to get tested,” noted Holley Rose, Ripley County Health Department. She said people may not show symptoms, but should still get tested. You can call the COVID-19 hotline at 1-877-826-0011 from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. to register to be tested. Testing is ongoing at the Ripley County Fairgrounds Park in Osgood in building 16 (close to the food pantry).
Dr. David Welsh, Ripley County’s health officer, says he is proud of the Ripley County residents. He noted in his last video that Phase 4 was opened two days early and he believes it’s because people are doing what they’re supposed to do. He encourages everyone to continue to wear their masks, wash hands frequently and use sanitizer, and keep up the social distancing. The state hopes to have everything opened back up by July 4. Dr. Welsh’s parting words were, “Stay safe. Be well. I can’t wait for Independence Day!”