By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – A local health official expressed hope Wednesday morning that Gov. Eric Holcomb will not fully move the state into stage 5 in the reopening process.
Holcomb was expected to address the issue Wednesday afternoon on whether to move into stage 5, which is tentatively set to happen on July 4.
Key aspects of stage 5 involve permitting large groups to gather and would allow for fairs and festivals to reopen. It would also allow retail to function at full capacity.
But stage five is set to arrive at a time when Elkhart County – just to the north of Kosciusko County – is seeing a large growth in cases and just announced a mandatory mask policy.
On the national level, Florida, Texas, California and Arizona are seeing an explosive number of cases, and White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci warned Tuesday that the country is moving in the wrong direction in attempts to slow the pandemic.
Officials participating in the weekly coronavirus news briefing at Warsaw City Hall were asked if they would like to see Holcomb move more slowly into stage 5.
“Part of me would greatly appreciate that,” said Dr. William Remington, the health officer for Kosciusko County, adding it would take a weight off his shoulders.
Remington urged anyone going to large festival Fourth of July events to be cautious and wear masks if social distancing is not possible.
The upcoming holiday is particularly challenging, given the circumstances.
“It’s Independence Day. That’s huge for us. It’s so ingrained in how we think as Americans,” Remington said. “I would never ever want to tromp on the tremendous sacrifices that have been made to get us there.”
For now, it comes down to the need for personal responsibility.
The fact that Indiana as a whole has been doing better than all surrounding states makes it more difficult, said Mayor Joe Thallemer.
“I think the potential for an increase is just lurking around the corner,” Thallemer said. “We’ve got to continue to keep our heads down and make good personal decisions.”
Thallemer is recovering after testing positive for COVID. He’s staying home and participated in the news briefing via telephone.
He said he feels a little tired, but will be tested again before he returns to work.
He said he sought a test shortly after noticing a low-grade fever, which soon dissipated.
Thallemer has been outspoken in support of social distancing and the use of masks.
“It’s out there. It’s virulent and what we’ve been saying all along holds true,” Thallemer said.