Starke County issues face mask mandate

Residents in Starke County will now be required to wear a face mask as of Wednesday when they are in indoor areas open to the public and cannot maintain a distance of 6-feet from others.

The mandate goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday.

The health department issued the mandate because of an increase in COVID-19 cases in the county.

The order is below:

A. Face Covering Mandate

Every individual must properly wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are at:

1. Any indoor area open to the public, including public transportation, schools, churches and indoor places of work or business;

2. Any outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained or is not consistently being maintained; or

3. Any private indoor or outdoor area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals visiting from outside of their household cannot be maintained or is not consistently being maintained.

An adult should supervise use of face coverings by children aged 3 to 12 to avoid misuse. A properly worn face covering is one that fully covers the individual's mouth and nose, fits snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps, is secured (i.e. straps, ear loops) to prevent slipping, and allows for breathing with no restriction.

All face coverings, which are not disposed of after each use, should be washed each day it is used and made completely dry before the next use.

B. Exceptions to the Face Covering Mandate

The Starke County Health Department recognizes that the following individuals are not required to wear a face covering as a result of this Public Health Order:

1. any child aged two years or less (a face covering may cause such a child to suffocate);

2. any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face covering;

3. any individual who is deaf and needs to remove the face covering to use facial and mouth movements as a part of their communication;

4. any individual who has been advised by medical professional that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the face covering for health related reasons;

5. any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;

6. any individual who is directed to remove a face covering by a law enforcement officer

7. any employee engaged in a work-related activity where a face covering would present or exacerbate a hazard as recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration;
8. any employee in a manufacturing or other work environment where management has determined that high temperatures or concurrent use of other protective gear make mask wearing impractical, unsafe and where virus transmission is being prevented by social distancing:

9. any individual whose religious beliefs prevents them from wearing a face covering;

10. any restaurant or bar customer while they are dining; and.

11. any individual who (1) is not in an area open to the public and (2) can maintain at least 6 feet from all other individuals not residing in his or her household.

C. Business and Employer Requirements

Every business and employer in Starke County must take the following steps to ensure that all employees and visitors of the entity comply with this Order:

1. All employers in Starke County must amend their COVID-19 confined operations plan, to require all employees and visitors to wear face coverings in accordance with this Order.

2. All businesses must post a Health Dept. Approved Poster at each available entrance to their building. Approved Posters (.pdf) and complete copies of this Order are available for download and printing from:

3. All businesses must continue to comply with all the Executive Orders of the Governor and any other Orders issued by state or local officials. This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining social distancing (at least six feet of separation) and sanitation requirements.

D. Intent and Use of this Order

The intent of this Order is to mandate that all people in Starke County, whether engaged in work activities, social activities, or everyday activities, wear a face covering, as outlined herein, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This Order is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Starke County and protect public health. When applying this Order, it is important to remember the following:

1. Nothing in this Order reduces or eliminates the requirements imposed by the Executive Orders of Governor Holcomb or imposed by any directive or order from the local health officer, Governor, or other regulatory local, state, or federal agency.

2. Actions that contradict this Order do not create grounds for residents or law enforcement to stop, detain, issue a citation, arrest, intimidate, or harass individuals that do not comply with this Order. This Order should be used to educate, encourage, and persuade individuals to wear face coverings.

3. Use of a face covering does not replace the need to take the additional necessary protective measures set forth in Section E below.

E. Additional Necessary Protective Measures

Use of a face covering as mandated by this Order does not replace the need for all Starke County employers, residents, and visitors to take additional necessary protective measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19. To keep Starke County working, activities open, and all of us healthy, everyone should maintain the following basic protective measures:

1. Wash your hands frequently during the day for 20 seconds with soap and water. If this is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

2. Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and individuals outside of your household.

3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

4. Stay home and isolate yourself from other members of your household if you are sick.

5. Avoid being around sick people.

6. Clean frequently touched surfaces often.

7. Sneeze and cough in the inside of your elbow or in a tissue.

F. Effective Date, Scope and Duration

This Order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. CDST on July 22, 2020. This Order will remain in effect until rescinded by the Starke County Local Health Officer. Prior to rescinding this Order, the Health Officer intends to examine the number and percentage of positive cases in Starke County in comparison to the State of Indiana, the hospitalization census for Starke County, and the availability of ICU beds in the region. Compliance with this Order is not required if other or additional measures or actions are necessary to comply with any federal, state, or local laws, rules, and regulations.

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