INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WEHT) – Governor Holcomb announced on Wednesday that masks will now be mandated across the state of Indiana beginning Monday, July 27th.
The mandate will require masks in all public indoor spaces and outdoor spaces when social distancing is not possible.
- Masks are required for all people eight years of age or older.
- Masks will also be required in schools for all faculty, staff, and students in third grade and above. Masks also will be required for co-curricular and extracurricular activities, with exceptions for strenuous physical activity.
- Exceptions will be made for medical purposes, strenuous physical activity, eating, and drinking.
- Masks are strongly recommended for ages 2-7.
- Indiana’s mask mandate comes after neighboring Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky have already begun such mandates. Locally, the City of Evansville also has a mask mandate in place.
- Failure to wear a mask under the order will be a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. But the governor added that “the mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets.”
- Mandate will last indefinitely.
“Best practices are best for all,” said Holcomb, citing many reasons for the mandate now.
Determining factors for the creation of the mask mandate include:
- Get children back to school land keep Indiana businesses open and operating.
- Increase in COVID-19 positivity rate.
- Increase in number of Hoosiers hospitalized for COVID-19.
- Additional counties seeing more cases.
- Increase in cases and positivity rates in neighboring states.
- Asymptomatic spread: nearly 40% of people in state have tested positive without showing symptoms.
Indiana Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Kevin Brinegar issued the following statement on the issuance of a statewide mask mandate for Hoosiers:
“Too many Indiana companies, employees and their families are in their fifth month of financial turmoil. That will not change and our economy will not be on the full road to recovery until some certainty is brought to this uncontrolled pandemic. The wearing of masks is a proven strategy for protecting others and enhancing our health – both physical and economic.
“Governor Holcomb’s order is a necessary step at this time in continuing to reopen Indiana safely.”Kevin Brinegar
Back to School Update:
Holcomb also provided an update for schools, saying that he supports all school districts deciding their own opening plans.
Dr. Jennifer Sullivan discussed return to school options, saying many students need to return to the physical classroom because of social and emotional learning as well as the ability to have a safe place to learn.
“Indiana flattened the curve for healthcare. Now it’s time to flatten it for kids,” said Dr. Sullivan.
Students in grades 3 through 12 are required to wear a mask at all times in the school except for when students can be six feet apart, for example if desks can be arranged to promote distancing. All students are required to wear a mask on school buses. Faculty and staff may only remove masks when social distancing is observed.
“There are lots of reasons to be scared right now. Masks are not one of them,” said Dr. Sullivan.
Dr. Sullivan also laid out additional guidance in handling positive cases in schools. She said it is highly recommended classrooms cohort students into pods, or smaller groups within the classroom, to reduce potential transmission.
If a student tests positive, contacts that were in direct contact – within six feet for more than 15 minutes within 48 hours of symptoms or a positive test – the exposed students will be asked to quarantine for 14 days. If students have been put into pods, only the students in the pod will have to quarantine. If two or more students test positive within a classroom, the entire class should quarantine. The state does not have a threshold for entire school closing due to a surge of cases and will work with individual schools if this occurs.
She also encouraged all schools to apply for the pandemic FEMA grants program by July 31st.
(This story was originally published on July 22, 2020)
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