Floyd County’s commissioners voted 2-1 at a meeting today not to approve the certification for Dr. Tom Harris, the county’s leading health officer, for another four years despite the health department’s board of directors voting to keep him as health officer.

Floyd County Commissioners have opted not to reappoint Dr. Harris as Health Officer for a new term.

His 4-year term will expire on December 31. 

The Commissioners said they look forward to partnering with the Health Board to develop a plan going forward; collaborating with local communities and local government.

Commenting on the vote, Commissioner President Shawn Carruthers stated “the
Commissioners very much appreciate Dr. Harris’s long service to the people of Floyd County. In addition, we thank every staff member of the health department for their dedicated efforts during the pandemic.”

Commissioner John Schellenberger added, “We thank Dr. Harris for his service to Floyd County and its residents and look forward to the next chapter of the Floyd County Health Department”.

Following the Commission’s action, the board of the Health Department may begin a thorough search for a new Health Officer at its December meeting.

“We believe the time is now to begin a new chapter for the Health Department,” a statement from the commissioner’s office said. “We have every confidence that the department staff, working closely with Baptist Floyd and the Indiana Department of Health, will continue to effectively serve our county as we manage the difficult weeks ahead and eagerly anticipate the vaccines that are hopefully not far off.”

Commissioner Tim Kamer was the only one who voted to keep Harris, who has held the position since 2006.

Commissioners Carruthers and Schellenberger both voted to remove him. 

Harris issued a mandate requiring the wearing of face masks, and that has been extended through the end of the year. The mandate is independent of the state’s emergency order from Governor Eric Holcomb.

Under Harris’s leadership in November, the health department issued temporary orders for bars to close at 10 p.m. each day and restaurants to decrease seating capacity to 75%.

Floyd County added 1,367 cases in November as well as 5,318 new tests.

It is not clear who will make decisions regarding the pandemic after the end of this month.