Aligning Monroe County with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recent guidance, the county's health officer has rescinded the previous health order as of Monday, May 17. The City of Bloomington also rescinded its health order, effective May 17.
This means that people who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask or stay socially distant from others in most instances, whether inside or out.
Masks may still be advised for people with certain health conditions, such as being immunocompromised, so those with concerns should check with their doctor. The CDC says that people who are not vaccinated should still wear a face covering and remain socially distant from others, except where required by federal, state or local rules and regulations, including local business and workplace guidance. Businesses and organizations can continue to require face coverings and physical distancing if they choose.
The Monroe County Board of Health will meet on Wednesday, May 19 to assess data and consider further updates or changes. That meeting starts at 4:30 p.m. via this Zoom link.
For more information, visit the City of Bloomington's COVID-19 site at https://bloomington.in.gov/covid-19, or the Monroe County Health Department COVID-19 site here.
On Tuesday, April 27, elected leaders for Monroe County and the City of Bloomington will meet separately to discuss spending priorities for funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Monroe County will be receiving about $29 million, while Bloomington will get $22.7 million.
The Monroe County Council and Monroe County Commissioners will meet at the end of a work session, which starts at 5:30 p.m. via this Zoom link. The Bloomington Council's meeting with Mayor John Hamilton on the same night begins at 6 p.m. via this Zoom link.
Details are still forthcoming on how these ARPA funds can be used, but the intent is to bolster local municipalities in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Monroe County Health Department is distributing signs reminding the public that a mask mandate is still in effect at least through May 28.
Face coverings are required in public, as is maintaining 6 feet of social distancing. Private gatherings are limited to 50 people in Monroe County outside of Bloomington, and limited to 15 people in the City of Bloomington.
The current public health order, which took effect on April 7, remains in place until May 28. Confusion has arisen because some other parts of the state have lifted these regulations.
Monroe County officials hope that businesses and other organizations will place the signs prominently. Click here and here to download the signs. The signs are also available in Spanish here and here.
Much of Kirkwood Avenue between Walnut and Indiana will be closed to vehicular traffic from March 25 through June 30, to allow restaurants to expand outdoor dining.
The section between Washington and Grant will remain open, as will a half block between Washington and the alley behind the Book Corner. That will allow CVS, located at the corner of Kirkwood and Washington, to have access for its COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
North-south cross streets and intersections will remain open.
SBA Extends Deferment for all COVID-19 EIDL and Other Disaster Loans until 2022
Extended deferment periods for all disaster loans, including the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, have been made until 2022. The Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that all SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2020, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 24-months from the date of the note.
In addition, all SBA disaster loans made in calendar year 2021, including COVID-19 EIDL, will have a first payment due date extended from 12-months to 18-months from the date of the note.
Click here to learn more about the SBA deferments.
Local Food & Beverage Tax revenues dropped 19% in 2020, according to a recently released annual report.
The 1% tax has been collected countywide since 2018. In 2020, nearly $2.8 million was collected, a drop of about $650,000 compared to 2019.
Read the full report here.
The Monroe County Board of Health has approved increasing the size limits of gatherings to 50 people, as long as the county stays in the "yellow" COVID-19 status. That status is determined by the State of Indiana's Guidelines by Color. Previously, the county limited gathering size to 25.
The local rules, approved by the Board of Health on Feb. 2, are still stricter than the state guidelines. Under state rules, counties that are in the "yellow" status can have gatherings up to 100 people.
Monroe County differs from state guidelines in several other ways as well. Click here to read the latest Monroe County health order.
A Monroe County program to reimburse local businesses and nonprofits for pandemic-related expenses has been extended until April 30.
Organizations can request up to $30,000 in non-payroll reimbursements, offered by the county through funds from the federal CARES Act.
Click here for details and to apply.
Monroe County Commissioners have approved a new program to reimburse businesses and nonprofits for COVID-related expenses and increased the eligible reimbursements to $30,000. The previous cap was $20,000.
The previous reimbursement program, which covered non-payroll COVID-related expenses, was slated to end on Nov. 30 and was part of the federal CARES Act. At their Dec. 2 meeting, commissioners voted to create a similar program funded from $4.7 million that the county received from the CARES Act.
Click here for the reimbursement application form.
Chamber CEO Erin Predmore addressed the impact of COVID-19 on the local business community during a Nov. 27 Noon Edition on WFIU. The segment also featured Jeff Meese of One World Enterprises and Efrat Feferman of the Monroe County United Way.
Predmore talked about efforts to support local businesses, including the Chamber's online holiday gift guide, which spotlights more than 100 shops and other businesses.
Click here to listen.