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NOBLESVILLE, Ind. (WISH) — Hamilton County turned red for the first time on the state’s coronavirus metrics map Wednesday.

Red is the highest level of alert on the map. Some are calling it a wake-up call, and more COVID-19 restrictions will now be in place. Schools are faced with a challenge of what to do next.

Christian Walker with the Hamilton County Health Department said travel during the holidays may be responsible for the high community spread of COVID-19 in Hamilton County. “Probably a lot of families who haven’t seen each other either since last Christmas or it’s been a while.”

The Hamilton County Health Department’s regulations cover all but Fishers in the county north of Indianapolis.

Hamilton County will add these coronavirus restrictions:

  • Limit social gatherings to 25 people.
  • Limit attendance at recreational sporting events to participants.
  • Indoor dining will be allowed but curbside is encouraged.
  • Senior centers are suspending activities.
  • Hospitals, long-term care centers and other congregate settings will impose visitation limits.
  • Schools are encouraged to review and reevaluate their plans based on the recommendations of the Indiana Department of Education.

The president and chief executive officer of Options Charter School in Hamilton County, Mike Gustin said many of the students he and his staff serve have different insecurities, and social and emotional needs. The school now offers in-person and virtual options. He said it’s important they stay open to continue to meet students’ needs.

“To the best of our ability, we will continue to stay open in this hybrid method with the podding system whenever possible. As the positivity goes up and the pandemic intensifies there may be a time when the state health department or Hamilton County Health Department may eventually close all schools down,” Gustin said.

Walker said he hopes the growth in the spread of the coronavirus in Hamilton County will be a sign to the community to tighten up. “This should be a red flag to everybody that we need to reevaluate that we are all in this together.”