Perry County health leaders strongly recommending masks, vaccinations

Published: Aug. 13, 2021 at 6:59 PM CDT
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PERRY CO., Ind. (WFIE) - Perry County joining several other Indiana counties in the most dangerous advisory on the state’s COVID metric map.

The Perry County Health Board unanimously voted to approve recommendations to help slow the spread of COVID-19 as cases continue to rise.

”It truly is, it’s a pandemic against the unvaccinated,” William Marcrum, Perry County health officer said.

As Perry County enters the most dangerous advisory for COVID-19, according to state metrics, health leaders are calling for change.

”We are in the red, as are several of our adjacent counties,” Marcrum said. “We are seeing up to 20 cases a day in a county of 19,000 people, so we’re seeing a big surge right now. Almost all of them are unvaccinated.”

The Perry County Health Board approved recommendations, which include strongly encouraging masking and social distancing in all public places, indoor and outdoor. The board also strongly recommends getting vaccinated, as well as masking all students and staff at local schools.

This is a recommendation that Cannelton school officials have already implemented in their schools.

”New water coolers, we installed hand sanitizers, all the buildings were sanitized every day and all the school busses were sanitized every day,” Dr. Alba Sibbitt, the superintendent of Cannelton City Schools said.

The superintendent says masks are strongly encouraged, but not yet required.

”We are already using the health department’s recommendations and their guidelines,” Dr. Sibbitt said. “None of these are mandated. They’re all highly recommended, so we are implementing the health department’s recommendations.”

For Cannelton schools, the virus hit a little closer to home when just this week they lost one of their own to COVID-19.

”She taught English from all grades 9-12, so she has or has had high school students for several years and currently had high school students this year. So it has hit home,” Dr. Sibbitt said. “We have brought in a couple of guidance councilors from Tell City to deal with our students.”

The health department is also recommending schools go back to a color-coded attendance policy and for other activities.

For example, if the county is in the red, schools would have 25% attendance, or if they are in orange, they would be at 50%.

”If our numbers keep getting worse and worse, and our vaccination rate is around 51% or so, which is miserable in my opinion,” Marcrum said. “Once again I just urge anyone who hasn’t gotten vaccinated, please do so, so we don’t have to ask the commissioners to mandate masks in Perry County.”

Tell City school officials say during Tuesday’s board meeting, they will vote to adopt the recommendations from the health department to wear masks while the county is in the red.

And with the number on the rise in Perry County, what about Schweizer Fest this weekend in Tell City?

14 News asked Marcrum about that, too.

“I will just defer to the CDC recommendations that people who are in a region with high spread should wear masks in public settings,” Marcrum said. “I would have very little problem with vaccinated people being at the Schweizer Fest, but the unvaccinated are, in my opinion, at much higher risk of contracting it in a public setting.”

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