By STEVEN MURREY
ELWOOD – As Madison County returns to a red advisory designation on the Indiana State Department of Health’s COVID-19 dashboard, Mayor Todd Jones has announced the temporary closure of the Elwood Municipal Building effective Jan. 3, 2022.
Beginning Monday, only city employees and other personnel deemed essential by the Mayor, Clerk-Treasurer, Elwood Fire Chief, or Elwood Police Chief are allowed access to the Municipal Building.
Per the order, all city agencies will conduct public meetings virtually. Except for prohibited public access to the Municipal Building, all city departments, including first responders, will continue to operate normally during the ongoing emergency, Jones said in the press release.
Elwood residents making utility payments should utilize the drop box attached to the Municipal Building or make payments online.
Jones’ announcement regarding the Municipal Building’s closure comes 24 hours after the county returned to the red advisory designation. The advisory levels range from blue to yellow to orange and to red; counties are scored based on the seven-day average of positive cases and the rate of cases per 100,000 residents.
According to the dashboard, Madison County has a seven-day positivity rate of 16.12%. Between Dec. 23 through Dec. 29, the county reported 796 new cases – an increase over the same period in 2020, in which the county reported 510 cases.
Madison County Health Administrator Stephanie Mellinger urged residents to take extra precautions during holiday gatherings such as hand-washing, face masks, and social distancing. Though Mellinger said canceling New Year’s plans this weekend is not necessary, she did urge those heading to large gatherings to get tested before.
Mellinger urged unvaccinated residents to consider getting vaccinated. The unvaccinated face a higher risk of contracting the virus, hospitalization, and death.
Since the onset of the pandemic, the county has reported 23,820 cases and 495 deaths.