Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb ended the state’s mandatory mask order on Wednesday but the Jefferson County Health Department is encouraging and advising all Jefferson County residents and visitors to continue to be vigilant and take responsibility for their safety and health as well as the safety and health of those around them by continuing to mask up, social distance and hand wash/sanitize, and to respect businesses that choose to keep COVID precautions in place.

The health department issued the advisory Wednesday afternoon while at about the same time officials from Madison, Hanover and Jefferson County also weighed in on the Holcomb’s latest executive order concerning the COVID-19 pandemic

Jefferson County is currently at a Blue advisory status and no restrictions are in place. However, this is subject to change if the county moves to yellow, orange or a red advisory status and one way to help prevent that from happening is to remain vigilant.

Madison Mayor Bob Courtney joined Hanover Town Council President Kenny Garrett and Jefferson County Commissioner David Bramer to issue a statement regarding their position on the governor’s announcement. Although Holcomb lifted the mask mandate, he extended the state’s public health emergency related to COVID-19 through April 30 and the local leaders said local policies will be no more restrictive than those issued by the state but urged residents to continue to exercise caution.

“Each municipality recognizes and affirms Governor Holcomb’s recent announcement ending the statewide mask mandate and limitations on gathering sizes beginning April 6 2021,” Courtney said in a release issued by the city. “In addition, we affirm that our local policies will not be more restrictive than that which has been proposed by Governor Holcomb. However, we will continue to consider a data driven approach in consultation with the Governor’s office, the Indiana State Department of Health, and our local health department, in determining future policy as necessary to promote public safety.

“Jefferson County has consistently had one of the lowest positivity rate averages in our 12-county region. We have maintained strong healthcare capacity in Jefferson County and thank our community members for their efforts to help contain our overall positivity and transmission rates,” Courtney continued. “We support and appreciate the Governor’s free COVID testing program, and increased vaccination availability that helped us “Get Back to Blue” and urge residents to take advantage of these.

“We encourage Madison, Hanover and Jefferson County residents to follow all CDC protocols to protect their own health as needed. We also encourage residents to respect businesses who wish to keep the precautions in place,” he said.

Along those lines, the local health department urged all Jefferson County residents and visitors to get vaccinated against COVID-19. With four local vaccine sites to choose from, local residents age 16 and older can schedule vaccination by visiting www.ourshot.in.gov or by calling 211. Vaccine being given locally so far includes Moderna, Pfizer — both two shot processes — and the single dose Johnson & Johnson. All 16- and 17-year-olds must receive the Pfizer vaccine.

Additionally, the health department encouraged all residents to seek testing if they develop symptoms of COVID-19. Jefferson County currently has two free testing sites and tests can be scheduled by visiting www.coronavirus.in.gov. For more information about the latest guidance from Governor Holcomb or testing and vaccination availability, visit www.coronavirus.in.gov.

“The health, safety, and well being of all Jefferson County residents and visitors remain a top priority for the Jefferson County Health Department,” said the release, issued by JCHD Administrator Tammy Monroe, “please enjoy all the spring festivities our beautiful county has to offer, but please do so safely.”