Although hospitals in Henry and Wayne counties are seeing fewer COVID patients in recent days, virus-related deaths are still being recorded and health workers say they are still feeling the strain. Thus, local health officials are urging everyone 6 months and older to get their flu shot in October to help prevent their own dangerous illness and take some of the seasonal burden off health systems.
“As we enter this flu season, it could be like no other,” said Dr. David Jetmore, Wayne County’s health officer, in a news release. Jetmore noted a significant decrease in flu cases during late 2020 and early 2021 because of mask wearing policies and mandates. Preventive actions such as increased handwashing and cleaning of high-touch surfaces, staying home when sick, and avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth also are encouraged again this year.
A man was taken to an Indianapolis hospital after being found earlier this week near a local sidewalk with a bullet wound, and police are seeking clues about what led up to that discovery. Shortly before 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 19, first-shift patrol officers for Richmond Police Department were sent to a “man down” call in the 600 block of South Fifth Street.
Stacks of tires in wooded areas can be found in Wayne County, and a local effort is underway to provide free disposal of tires and electronic waste in October. Collections of unwanted items, along with billboards discouraging littering, are just some of the ways a local organization aims to clean up two local counties. Billboard campaign
Cathy Williams saw anti-littering billboards throughout South Carolina while on vacation, and brought the idea to Wayne and Union Solid Waste Management District board.
Wayne County has surpassed more than 100 new COVID cases in the daily count announced Thursday, Aug. 26, with nearly half of those illnesses in children. The county broke its one-day record for new cases, which has been in place since Nov. 19, 2020. The previous record was 103, and now the county has an additional 105 reported cases.
A Richmond woman has been arrested on a charge of reckless homicide after a shooting on the city’s southeast side. Richmond Police Department was called to the 600 block of South Seventh Street at approximately 9:52 a.m. Monday after a report of a shooting. When officers arrived, a female could be heard screaming inside the home. They made contact with Sarah McKenzie Davis, 41, according to a news release from Capt. Curt Leverton. After going inside, officers and medics found a man on the couch.
Western Wayne Schools is establishing new guidelines for social distancing and preventative measures and implementing an indoor mask mandate for all students and adults starting Friday, Aug. 27. New Superintendent Andy Stover said the change is “an ongoing effort to ensure the health, safety, and education for the children at Western Wayne Schools.” He said the guidelines can change the moment a decline of cases is seen within Western Wayne Elementary and Lincoln Middle/High School. Stover said they want to ensure a proactive approach before the number of rising cases “impacts our learning environment.”
Superintendent Kyle Barrentine announced Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 24) that Nettle Creek Schools will have an eLearning Day on Wednesday, Aug. 25, followed by four days of virtual learning, because of COVID-19 case numbers. He said the district plans to return to in-person instruction on Wednesday, Sept. 1.
Emmett Smelser worked in several Midwest communities and spent some of his retirement years in Arizona, but he had committed to moving full-time to Richmond toward the end of his life. Smelser’s former local colleagues in journalism and those he met through many civic engagements are mourning his Aug. 13 death, which was announced by First English Lutheran Church in Richmond. Church officials said he had been in declining health in recent weeks. Smelser spent 38 years in the newspaper business, with 20 of those as a reporter and editor, and the remaining 18 as a publisher at Marietta, Ohio, as well as Richmond, Muncie and Marion in Indiana.
Several news developments have occurred with local school and government offices regarding mask requirements in recent days, and one school is switching to virtual learning for one week because of a high number of cases. Wayne County is now in the state’s orange, or second-worst, advisory level for its number of COVID-19 cases and testing positivity rate. Read more in-depth information about many of these decisions in the Aug. 25 edition of Western Wayne News. SCHOOLS
Wayne County Commissioners have put off until Friday making a decision about making masking mandatory in county buildings. They will meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday in commissioners’ chambers in the Wayne County Administration Building. The commissioners initially postponed taking a vote during their regular meeting on Wednesday, choosing to wait until hearing the opinion of the Wayne County Health Board, which met at noon on Thursday. When the commissioners met at 3 p.m. Thursday, Commissioner Mary Anne Butters reported that the health board “strongly” recommended that that public and private organizations, as well as schools, support masking while inside. On Wednesday, Indiana officials announced Wayne County had moved to the orange advisory level, or second-worst, after being in the blue, or best, level just a couple of weeks ago.
Wayne County’s COVID cases are rising sharply, and as of Tuesday, Aug. 17, Centerville-Abington Community Schools is joining Richmond Community Schools in adding a mask requirement because more than 200 CACS students have had to be quarantined since its schools opened Aug. 9. In a letter sent home Monday to families, Centerville’s Superintendent Mike McCoy announced the district has had 20 positive cases, causing more than 200 students to be quarantined. Because CACS met the 10 percent threshold watched by the health department for students sent home because of COVID, he said the district was given two recommendations from the health department: masking of all students and staff, and/or closing the school for two weeks and returning with full mask requirements.
Wayne County’s COVID cases are rising sharply, and the first local death since May that is associated with the virus has been recorded. Wayne County had 30 new cases of COVID-19 that were announced Wednesday, Aug. 11, as well as the death of a woman in her 80s that is tied to COVID-19. Wayne County Health Department said no further information will be released regarding the death or the individual.
Map turns yellow, orange for most local counties
The state’s color-coded map had been a sea of blue in recent weeks.
Late Tuesday afternoon (Aug. 10), Wayne County Sheriff’s Office announced it has located Phillip Pitcher Jr., a 16-year-old boy from Milton, Indiana, whose whereabouts were sought earlier in the day. However, the sheriff’s office also is still seeking Adrea Strickland, a 16-year-old female from Hagerstown. Her disappearance was announced June 11. She has brown hair and brown eyes.