Tippecanoe County health officials and county commissioners met Wednesday to discuss the future of emergency health orders and the fate of current COVID-19 restrictions.
The meeting comes after the passage of a law requiring local elected leaders to approve any health orders stricter than the states.
County Commissioner Tracy Brown said throughout the pandemic residents wanted to know who was accountable for health orders.
“Is there an elected official that’s accountable for these decisions? There was an answer, it was no,” he said.
Brown was quick to add that he believes Tippecanoe County’s Health Officer Dr. Jeremy Adler has done a “remarkable” job managing the pandemic.
“Our county health officer is a terrific human being and he’s done a remarkable job during some very difficult circumstances,” Brown said.
Tippecanoe County still had one health order in place restricting capacity at restaurants and bars. The order kept capacity beneath 100% by requiring ongoing social distancing while indoors.
At the meeting with commissioners, Dr. Adler asked to continue Tippecanoe County’s remaining health order restricting restaurant and bar capacity. Commissioners declined.
“I think Dr. Adler was taking the temperature and he probably had a good idea where we were going to land on that given our current circumstance,” Brown said.
In a release from the county health department Wednesday, health officials said the order was rescinded, but they continued to “strongly recommend” face coverings and social distancing while indoors.
“Until a greater number of people are vaccinated against COVID-19, it is important to continue essential preventative measures,” the release concluded.
Brown said he understands the responsibility of any future health orders now falls on the commissioners. But, he said, they make decisions like this “every single day.”
Commissioner Brown said he will continue masking, recommending others wear masks, and has received both of his vaccinations. But he said residents should be allowed to make choices for themselves.
“The personal choice piece cannot be underestimated,” Brown said. “If you go to a restaurant that you like but you’re not comfortable with what they have migrated to in terms of their policy you have the opportunity to go somewhere else.”