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Apr. 3—ANDERSON — Starting Tuesday, the Madison County Health Board will be following Gov. Eric Holcomb's decision to lift mask requirements.
Dr. Stephen Wright, Madison County's health officer, announced Friday the county will follow the state's guidelines that remove mask requirements as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Madison County Board of Health will meet on April 14 to discuss changes in the coronavirus restrictions in the county.
Wright said the vaccines that people are lining up to receive has slowed the recent surge of infections in the county.
"But do not think we are done with COVID-19," he said. "It is still in the community and we are seeing a few positive results daily at the Madison County Health Department.
"What that means is that COVID-19 is still in the air somewhere at all times," he added, "and not less than before when the hospitals were straining to keep up and we were having good people die almost daily."
Wright said Community Hospital Anderson has closed its COVID ward and Ascension Health has five patients with the virus, with three of those cases in the Intensive Care Unit.
"The Health Department is strongly recommending that if you are out among people you do not live with, that you wear a mask," Wright said. "It's a simple, proven means of reducing transmission of COVID-19.
"When warm weather gets here and we get more vaccines in arms, then I am confident that we'll be able to get by with fewer masks," he continued.
Wright said the winter months have seen a marked decline in flu cases as a result of people wearing masks and receiving flu shots.
"Mask wearing might be an annual winter tradition," Wright said.
Wright said in the future he is hopeful that there will be a combination vaccine for the flu and COVID-19 to mitigate the diseases.
"The current vaccines appear to be effective against the variants that are popping up," he said of the coronavirus pandemic. "The vaccines work. I have no sympathy for those willing to put the rest of us at risk of illness and death because of the fake news going around on the internet."
Wright also announced that the federal government is establishing a program to help reimburse funeral expenses by up to $9,000.
He said local funeral directors have information on how to apply for and receive these funds.
Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.