The Allen County Building Department has gone one step beyond Mayor Tom Henry's announcement that face coverings will be required in city buildings beginning Tuesday.
The department on the first floor of Citizens Square is closing its lobby where residents and building contractors typically do business in person, Building Commissioner John Caywood said Friday.
“Keeping everyone safe during this time is what matters,” he said in a news release, noting the closing will be until further notice.
Lobby workers help residents and contractors apply for permits, inspections and licensing. The department is setting up a dropbox outside the office for returning paper forms and is returning to online methods used earlier in the pandemic.
The coronavirus surge showed scant signs of easing Friday. Allen County reported 306 more residents had tested positive, while the state health department reported 5,032 new cases and 20 new deaths.
Indiana has now reported 873,480 cases and 14,121 confirmed deaths, plus 449 more in patients with symptoms but without a positive test.
Allen County reported no additional deaths to add to its total of 717. The county's case total will likely reach 50,000 today; the total stood at 49,918 Friday.
The DeKalb County Health Department Friday confirmed 196 new cases of COVID-19 in DeKalb County residents between Aug. 28 and Friday. Sixty-two of those cases – nearly 1 in 3 – were in people 20 and younger.
Nineteen, about 10%, were in children 10 and younger, too young to be vaccinated. Forty-three were in those 11 to 20, the highest number in any age group.
The DeKalb statistics follow the trend in Allen County schools, which reported higher numbers of cases in students in the last two weeks as the students went back to class.
The building department is asking homeowners seeking permits to use the department website at www.allencounty.us/building-department to obtain a permit application, which can be submitted online at Ownerpermits@allencounty.us as well as in the dropbox.
Applicants will be contacted about payments and permit issuance, the department said.
Contractor licensing will be handled the same way as during the previous closure – contractors can submit paperwork by mail and have a virtual meeting instead of a face-to-face one.
Email and phone listings for department staff are online at www.allencounty.us/building-department.
Although the lobby is closed, phone lines at 449-7131 will be open during business hours 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.