Local health officials express concern over lifted mask mandate

NOW: Local health officials express concern over lifted mask mandate

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Indiana is surpassing one year since mask mandates and public health orders, Governor Eric Holcomb now making some changes as the COVID-19 crisis improves. Even so, local officials are expressing their hesitation.

“So on Wednesday, March 31st, we will plan on opening up vaccine eligibility to all ages 16 and over, anticipating we will receive more of all three doses. Already we have nearly 500 sites available throughout the states, and we will expand our reach by implementing a large employer vaccinations program that has been in the planning stage for weeks now,” says Governor Holcomb.  

Tuesday, governor Holcomb announcing all Hoosiers ages 16 and over will be eligible for the COVID vaccine as of March 31st. Following the 31st, 6 days later, Governor Holcomb’s statewide mask order turns into a mask advisory meaning they are recommended but not required. Starting April 6th, mask rules and capacity restrictions will be decided upon by individuals, businesses and county health officials.

However, students and teachers at all K-12 schools are still required to mask up until the end of the school year. Vaccination clinics and government buildings also required to continue mask wearing.

The news comes after current positivity rate, hospitalizations and deaths have dropped significantly since mid-January. Even so, health officials expressing concern that history is repeating itself, and we could be moving too quickly.

“Unfortunately, we have been down this road before. We saw the governor move too quickly at July 4th, we saw the Governor move to quickly September 25th, with really devastating consequences. There was not a lot in his speech tonight and one thing I did not hear him talk about in fact I am not sure it was even in the text of his speech, was any word on the more contagious variants that are present in the state,” says Dr. Mark Fox, St. Joseph County Health Department.

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