The Monroe County health order comes after last week’s new guidance on mask-wearing for the fully vaccinated from the Centers for Disease Control. The guidance applies to counties where there is “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus. That’s a criterion that currently applies to Monroe County.
Not under the county’s jurisdiction, but also following the CDC’s new guidance on masks, is Indiana University.
Looking west on 7th Street. The photo shows out-of-alignment sidewalk panels that have been ground flush. (July 30, 2021)
Sidewalk section on N. College Avenue, looking south, between 15th and 17th streets. (April 26, 2020)
From Monroe County’s Pictometry module of the property lookup system. Highlighted are sections of sidewalk on N. College Avenue, between 15th and 17th streets. Imagery is from April 2020.
Plot of trips by day by scooter company since data started getting collected.
In October of 2018, just a month after shared-use electric scooters arrived in Bloomington, a downtown worker was scooting home late at night, when he crashed as he was cruising downhill on a North College Avenue sidewalk.
The crash, which broke a bone in the scooter rider’s hand, occurred along the sidewalk on the west side of College, between 15th and 17th streets.
Bloomington answered the complaint with a number of defenses, among them that the city “did not have prior notice of, nor opportunity to correct” the condition of the sidewalk that was alleged to have caused the scooter crash.
According to court documents, in late May of this year, a mediated settlement was reached, which resulted in a payment of $11,000 by Bloomington and $21,000 by the adjoining property owner.
The red line indicates a threshold of 21.2 cases a day. That’s the daily average below which Monroe County needs to stay in order to remain in the “yellow” category for weekly cases per 100,000 residents, in the state’s dual-metric color-coded classification scheme.
By next Wednesday, all Monroe County residents, even those who are vaccinated, will likely be under a renewed mandate to wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
According to Monroe County health administrator Caudill, a new order from county health officer Thomas Sharp will also say that schools should follow guidance from the CDC, the Indiana Department of Health, and the Indiana Department of Education.
What does guidance from those three entities mean for area K-12 schools? Caudill concluded: “At this time, that means masks should be worn in schools.”
The announcement about a new mask mandate came at Friday’s biweekly news conference on local COVID-19 pandemic response. The usual order of speakers was altered to put Monroe County healthy administrator Penny Caudill first, so she could deliver the news on masks.
Before announcing the new mask mandate for indoor public settings, Caudill described the negative trends that led to the decision: increased confirmed COVID-19 case numbers, increased positivity rates and increased hospitalizations, and less-than-hoped-for vaccination rates.
Caudill reported at the news conference that the county’s board of health would meet to deliberate on the mask mandate on Tuesday, Aug. 3 at 9:15 a.m. on a Zoom video conference.
The following day, at its regular Wednesday meeting, county commissioners could approve the mandate. The need for the board of county commissioners to act is due to a recent statutory change. The new law [SEA 05] requires the board of county commissioners sign off on local health orders.
Baker Tilly found that in Year 2, the impact on local income tax (LIT) revenue to Monroe County government would be negative $1.4 million. That’s a $866,000 bigger impact than Reedy Financial Group reported in Bloomington’s annexation fiscal plan. Reedy analyzed the impact as negative $534,694.
The CDC guidance, released on July 27, recommends that people wear a face covering indoors, if it’s in a public setting and if it’s in a county where there is “substantial” or “high” transmission of the virus.
Monroe County is classified as having “substantial” transmission, because it has 52.55 new cases per 100,000 population in the last 7 days. That’s just over the lower threshold for the “substantial” category, which starts at 50 new cases per 100,000 and goes up to 99.99 cases.
At just a smidgen over $15 million, Bloomington Transit’s preliminary budget for 2022 is about 3.7 percent more than last year’s approved total amount.
That’s the number that Bloomington Transit’s general manager Lew May presented to BT’s five-member board at its meeting last Tuesday.
Some of that increase is due to an increase in employee compensation. The preliminary budget is based on a 3-percent increase in wages. How much the increase actually turns out to be will depend on the outcome of negotiations with the drivers, who are represented by AFSCME Local 613.
Those negotiations will need to take place over the next few months, because BT’s labor agreement ends on Dec. 31, 2021.
The timing for the back-and-forth between BT and drivers will coincide broadly with BT’s transition from May’s leadership, who has served 22 years as general manager, to John Connell’s, who was the board’s pick last week to succeed May. Connell is now operations manager for the Greater Lafayette Public Transportation Corporation.
BT’s board will likely vote on the final budget at its August meeting. The budget will then be presented to Bloomington’s city council for review and approval, in a separate vote from the city’s own budget.
A temporary location at 4th Street and College Avenue could be serving as Bloomington’s downtown fire station for another year and a half.
That’s based on a “right of access” agreement for the property, which was approved by the Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC), at its regular meeting on Monday. The fire department’s right of access to the RDC’s property runs through the end of 2022.
The heavy rains that night filled the fire station’s basement with eight feet of water, drowning the building’s telecommunications center. Station 1 also served as the department’s administrative headquarters.
The temporary site—in the former Bunger & Robertson building at College Square—is four blocks east of Station 1.
It has been housing the department’s administrative functions since the flood hit. On Monday, Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore told The B Square that the department also has operational crews stationed there from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
When the firetrucks are not at the temporary site, they are distributed to other stations in a way to optimize fire protection coverage from those four sites.
Providing fire protection around the clock from the temporary downtown location will be made possible by the RDC’s approval at its Monday meeting. The right of access includes permission to establish a temporary fire truck bay in the parking lot, which will allow the trucks to be secured overnight.
At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission gave its approval of federal Community Development Block Grant awards totaling $660,602 to nine local nonprofits.
It was a special funding round to address impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The requirement of a COVID-19 connection led to the recommendation of a three-member committee against funding some of the projects of five other applicants, according to John Zody, director of Bloomington’s housing and neighborhood development (HAND) department.
The total amount awarded worked out to about half of the $1.3 million that was requested.
When Bloomington mayor John Hamilton announced at a news conference in early June that some of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding would be used for housing supports, no dollar amounts were attached.
The ARPA is a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, to help counter the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing supports, at $1.65 million, are about half of the total in the initial ordinance.
The breakdown for housing is: a $1.2 million grant to the United Way of Monroe County to address homelessness and housing insecurity; a $250,000 grant to the Bloomington Housing Authority to create affordable housing options; and $200,000 to encourage participation by landlords in the federal Section 8 voucher program.