ANDERSON — The Madison County Health Department reported Friday that a total of eight county residents have died from the COVID-19 virus.

The health department has extended its stay-at-home emergency declaration, except for essential travel for food and medical reasons, until April 30.

“We are seeing more deaths,” said county health officer Dr. Stephen Wright. “People are not complying and need to stay home.

“We have an older population in Madison County,” he added. “Getting sick is life or death for these folks. I cannot stress enough that we all need to stay home.”

Stephenie Grimes, administrator for the health department, said that she has received death certificates for an additional four people who died recently.

Grimes said the new reported deaths were for a man in his 80s, a man in his 90s and two women, in their 60s and 70s.

Five of the reported deaths from the COVID-19 virus have happened this week.

Grimes said another three positive tests were reported by the Indiana State Department of Health, raising the county’s total to 66.

“We have eight confirmed deaths in Madison County out of 66 positive tests,” Grimes said. “That is a 12% mortality rate. That’s incredibly high. We need to do better.

“We expect to reach our peak in a few weeks,” she continued. “We simply have to be respectful and limit exposure. We have widespread infection in Madison County. We must slow it down.”

The newest positive cases include three women in their 20s, 30s and 40s.

“We are seeing a rise in deaths from COVID in the county,” Wright said. “We are still in the early stages and are hoping that our restrictions will work to keep new exposures from surfacing.”

The Indiana State Department of Health is reporting that 210 people have been tested in Madison County for COVID-19.

With eight reported deaths from the virus, Madison County ranks second in the state.

The U.S. Census Bureau reported an estimated 24% of the 129,640 people residing in Madison County were over the age of 65 in 2017.

Because of federal privacy laws, the health department does not disclose any specific patient information.

To date, 43 women and 23 men have tested positive for COVID-19 in Madison County.

The county’s first positive test was reported March 18.

The latest emergency order specifies that all restaurants with a drive-thru service can continue to operate, but carryout meals can no longer be offered.

Any restaurant without a drive-thru can offer pre-ordered curbside pick-up and delivery, but there should be no more than 10 people, including employees, inside a business at any time.

All other essential businesses have to operate with curbside, drive-thru or delivery only. No public access should be allowed into the interior of the store.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.

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