Monroe County in-person voting sites on June 2 will have masks available for voters who want to wear one. And the details for a June 23 blood drive at the Monroe County convention are now set. Appointments can be made for times between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Monroe County convention center.
Those two items were among the news nuggets passed along by Monroe County’s director of emergency management, Allison Moore, at Friday’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 response issues.
On Friday, Moore reported that the county is expecting next week another drop of personal protection equipment (PPE)—like masks, gloves and sanitizer—from the state’s department of homeland security.
The latest COVID-19-related order from Monroe County’s health officer, Thomas Sharp, issued on Thursday and effective starting Saturday, matches the requirements for Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s current order, except for one.
The one exception: In Monroe County, mass gatherings are still limited to 50 people Under the governor’s order, mass gatherings can go up to 100.
According to Monroe County election supervisor Karen Wheeler, 17,997 absentee ballots had been sent out to voters as of Friday and 6,517 of them received by her office.
When The Square Beacon touched base with Wheeler on Saturday morning, she said about 5,000 more ballots still need to be sent out. That will make about 23,000 total absentee ballots for this year’s primary election. Election day is June 2.
A lot of voters waited until close to the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot. The deadline for turning in ballot applications was Thursday, May 21. The voted ballots themselves have to reach the clerk’s office by noon on primary election day, June 2. Voters who receive their ballots later next week, and are concerned that their mailed ballot might not arrive in time, can turn in their ballots in person at Election Central.
The roughly 1,300 ballots that have been processed every day for the last week is about twice the number Wheeler had previously described as the office’s maximum daily capacity. She said previously she’d be looking to recruit county employees who had been ordered to stay home from work during the COVID-19 health emergency.
On Saturday, she said about 20 people were working inside the Election Central building at 7th and Madison streets. They’ll need to work Sunday, Monday, and probably Tuesday, too, Wheeler figured.
The city’s mayor, John Hamilton, gave a reminder about the limited re-opening at Friday afternoon’s weekly press conference. Local leaders give updates on COVID-19 issues every Friday at 1:15 p.m. through an event live-streamed on the city’s Facebook page.
Hamilton stressed that the city is still encouraging residents who need to do business with the city to take advantage of services by phone or the city’s website, if possible.
At Wednesday’s regular meeting of Monroe County’s commissioners, another $5,000 COVID-19 relief grant was made to a tourism-related business outside Bloomington city limits, using food and beverage tax proceeds.
The breakdown for Pili’s Party Taco’s use of the $5,000 grant is: $1,800 rent; $1,200 insurance (truck and supplies); and $2,000 for employee salaries.
At its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday night, the five-member Bloomington Transit board approved a two-phase reopening plan for public bus service in the city.
The plan sets June 1 as the date when something closer to a normal summer break schedule will resume.
Public buses in Bloomington have still been running during the state’s COVID-19 emergency orders, but using a modified Saturday schedule every day. That reduces the number of service hours by about half compared to normal levels this time of year.
Schedules are posted on BT’s website. Realtime bus locations, when they are running, are available through the mobile app DoubleMap.
In broad strokes, it puts the county in Stage 2 of Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced on May 1, with a key difference: Monroe County will stay in Stage 2 an extra week compared to the governor’s plan—that is, through May 31.
Monroe County’s health administrator Penny Caudill said Wednesday that last week’s local health emergency order on COVID-19 would likely be replaced at week’s end with one that allows barbershops and hair salons to re-open and restaurants to offer dine-in service, starting Saturday, May 16. [Updated: May 14, 2020 at 4:35 p.m. The order has been issued.]
The county’s current order is stricter than Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced May 1.
The local order—which was also issued on May 1, and maintained the same kind of business closures and stay-at-home directives as the governor’s “Hunker Down, Hoosiers” order had—is set to expire at the end of the day on Friday.
The new local order is expected to be effective through May 31, Caudill said.
On May 1, Monroe County’s health department issued an order extending COVID-19 countermeasures that keep restrictions on businesses and gatherings in place for another two weeks, through May 15.
When a decision is made on extending or rescinding that order—which currently ends at midnight this Friday—Ellettsville town councilmembers are hoping for better communication than they got about the May 1 announcement.
The health department’s May 1 announcement came after Indiana’s governor, Eric Holcomb, had issued his own order outlining a phased-in “Back on Track” program earlier that day.
That means for about a week now Monroe County has been under tighter restrictions than most of the rest of the state. Those tighter restrictions will continue at least through Friday at the end of this week.
The county health department’s order applies to the whole county, including the city of Bloomington and the town of Ellettsville.
The wording of the document included Bloomington and Ellettsville. According to the order, the health department’s decision was made after “consultation with the Mayor of the City of Bloomington, the Monroe County Board of Commissioners, and representatives of the Town of Ellettsville,”