While Monroe County has faced a challenging period during the COVID-19 pandemic, the county mayor said he believes there have been some positives.

Monroe County Mayor Mitch Ingram stated the pandemic has impacted the county economically, physically with health, emotionally and spiritually.

“Unfortunately we did experience death to COVID, but in the summer and fall months we saw some improvement. We saw more people build up an immunity, we saw more people get vaccinated and more,” Ingram expressed. “Unfortunately we are seeing some uptick now as we are into January, but overall I think Monroe County is improving — especially with the last two quarters of the year — so things are looking bright and positive.”

He reflected upon the start of the pandemic and believes that his office did the best they could have done given the situation.

“This is one of those situations in life where there is no instruction manual and this is something that you don’t go to school for and I think every leader in every level has had to take it day by day, situation by situation and we are only as good as the information that we are given,” he expressed. “We try to stick very strictly to the information, data and logistics that we are given. We never did require a mask mandate and when the vaccination mandate came down we were very opposed to it, so not every situation was perfect, but I feel that under the circumstances and the situation we handled it as well as we could have.”

Ingram expressed his appreciation to the citizens of the county for supporting each other during the pandemic.

“We live in the best state in the country and we live in the best county in the world,” Ingram said. “I felt that under something that was unprecedented that we have all stuck together and survived it.”

Looking at the current situation, Ingram shared his thoughts on the Omicron variant.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the symptoms of the new variant are similar to the common cold, so it is a little different from the Delta version, so obviously it is highly contagious and the symptoms are milder,” he said. “I understand there are discussions on the vaccine and boosters and if they can cover all of these variants and that all remains to be seen, but certainly the good side of it is that it doesn’t seem to be as severe as the other variants in the past.”

Ingram said while he does not support vaccine mandates, he does encourage people to get the one of the COVID-19 vaccines.

“I believe this is 100% a choice but we do encourage people, especially vulnerable people, to get vaccinated and to take care of themselves,” he expressed. “We’re going to do that as an employer in the county as we try to take care of our county employees. We believe in liberty, but we also believe in taking care of one another and we will continue to do so just as our office has done this entire time. We are very transparent and we push out the information weekly as far as total cases, active cases and deaths but we are going to continue to do that and we are always going to push truth and accurate information out to our taxpayers.”

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