Headed to yellow

Elkhart County is expected to move to level yellow on the Indiana Department of Health’s metrics map today.

So what does that mean?

According to Elkhart County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait, under the governor’s new executive order, yellow means that special events can be at 50% capacity as long as attendees can maintain six feet of social distance, wear masks and other mandated measures. This is just with special events, she said.

This changes nothing for restaurants, which can be at full capacity as long as they can maintain six feet of social distancing and mask wearing.

Take a venue such as The Lerner, she said. Figure out the capacity and then halve it, she explained. If they are at 50% capacity and cannot maintain a distance of six feet for all people then they cannot hold the event, she said. Under the Elkhart County public health order, all COVID mitigation measures must be adhered to if there are more than 25 people at a social event and a safety plan for that event must be submitted to the health department, she said.

The health department, Wait said, has no interest in denying an event as long as it’s done safely.

The health department will review the plan and make sure there is limited interaction, the capacity number is being met and there are signs telling people to wear masks and sanitation rules are in place.

Wait likens the mitigation plans to a high school team playing zone defense on the court.

“We need to be on the defensive of this virus,” she said. “We are at the point where we need to vaccinate as many people as we can.”

And, she continued, as many people as possible need to be vaccinated before variants become prevalent. With more people being vaccinated, it cuts down on the replication of the virus, which means less of a chance for mutation, she said.

And if fewer mutations occur, then the vaccines approved and near approval will continue to be effective.

“It’s a race at this point and time,” she said.

To register for a vaccination, go online to ourshot.in.gov, call 211 or call the Elkhart County Call Center at 574-523-2106. To make an appointment directly at Maple City Health in Goshen, call 874-387-6445.

To receive a vaccination, a person must be 65 years old or older, or be a patient-facing healthcare worker or one who is in direct contact with a patient, a longterm care facility resident, those working in a congregant living facility for youth and have direct contact with them, or a first responder who is in direct contact with the public.

Sheila Selman can be reached at sheila.selman@goshennews.com or 574-533-2151, ext. 240311. Follow Sheila on Twitter @sselman_TGN.

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