UPDATE: Governor extends Indiana’s statewide mask mandate

Gov. Eric Holcomb

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday said he would extend the state’s mask mandate for another month amid sharply rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.

Holcomb made the announcement while revealing that Dr. Kristina Box, the state’s health commissioner, had tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

Holcomb, however, said he would not bring back restrictions that were lifted three weeks ago and would leave the state in Stage 5 of the pandemic recovery plan for another month.

“This is not the time to abandon what we’ve been doing,” Holcomb said. “Just the opposite. We need to double down.”

The mask order, which Holcomb first issued in July, had been set to expire on Saturday.

The Indiana State Department of Health on Wednesday reported 1,357 statewide hospitalizations due to COVID-19 as of Tuesday, the highest mark since May 13. Hospitalizations have risen 68% in the last month.

The state also reported 1,172 new COVID-19 cases. New reported cases have topped 1,100 for eight straight days and have exceeded 1,000 a dozen times in the past 14 days.

The governor decided three weeks ago to lift nearly all of Indiana’s restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes, a decision his Democratic election challenger Dr. Woody Myers has called on Holcomb to reverse in hopes of slowing the coronavirus spread.

Holcomb said shutting down the state again would be “missing the point,” because people have proven they can have events and gatherings responsibly.

“There is proof out there that folks are operating responsibly in Stage 5,” Holcomb said. “We need to do more of that, not less of that.” 

But Holcomb acknowledged that not everyone has been following the advice of his administration to wear a mask and socially distance, and those actions have been causing positive case numbers to continue increasing.

“Stage 5 is not the stage where the checkered flag comes out,” Holcomb said. “Stage 5 is not an excuse for indifference.”

Holcomb said Box and her team are particularly concerned about social events, such as weddings, funerals and house parties, where people are close together and not wearing masks.

“Those events are the very events that turn out to be big contributors to our positive cases,” Holcomb said.

Dr. Lindsay Weaver, chief medical officer of the state health department, said some Hoosiers are acting like the pandemic is over.

“This pandemic is not over, and it will not be over unless we all do our part,” Weaver said.

The Indiana Hospital Association applauded Holcomb’s decision to extend the mask mandate.

“We are seeing hospitalizations pick up significantly, which is especially concerning as we approach flu season,” IHA President Brian Tabor said in a written statement. “If we double down and wear masks, regularly wash our hands, and practice social distancing, it will go a long way in tamping down COVID-19.”

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12 thoughts on “UPDATE: Governor extends Indiana’s statewide mask mandate

    1. No, because it never happened. It only works if everyone wears them on a consistent basis. This is impossible with indoor businesses operating at full capacity.

    2. Wow Wesley H., that’s impressive!! You can see that not everyone is wearing masks on a consistent basis all the way from California! I am a current Marion county resident, and over the last month, since opening back up, I can count on one hand the number of times I have been in public and encountered someone not wearing a mask. (other than when seated at a table eating or drinking) Indoor seating at restaurants must maintain social distancing rules (tables/diners must be 6 feet apart) so restaurants/bars are definitely not operating at full capacity. The couple of times I have been seated indoors, it’s more like 50% capacity, once every table is 6 feet apart from the next, etc.

    1. Holcomb is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He ran as a Republican but governs like a progressive. The House of Representatives have surrender their legislative duties to what now is a dictator. Yes the governor is the only one who can call a special session but I don’t hear anything about the legislative body being lined up outside his office/house/Brown County Retreat or wherever he is hiding. Once the State of Indiana got over the initial phase to a level of understanding he should of called a special session. But as with most of those intoxicated on power he decided to go it alone. So he can take the heat for the outcomes, higher unemployment cost, lower tax revenue, massive bankruptcies and decimated small business’s. And the mental health issues are yet to be calculated.

    2. Steve – We are in Stage 5 due to folks like you. It’s totally the wrong decision because the number of folks with minds full of misinformation, most of whom get their news from Fox or Facebook, are willing to vote accordingly and vote for someone with absolutely no experience in government over mask mandates. You’ve gotten what you wanted, it’s led to the predictable increase in cases, and you’re refusing to see the connection. (Also, the last time we decided that lack of experience was a good thing in a government official … how’d that work out for everyone?)

      Even if there were no restrictions, the economy would be trash because … a significant number of people cannot or will not resume their normal lives until there is a vaccine or a suitable treatment with sufficient efficacy. There’s no difference if restaurants had shuttered in-person dining due to government restrictions or shuttered in-person dining due to people refusing to go out to eat. Both were going to happen.

      What we need is substantial federal support for restaurants and bars and gyms to get through this time, because for the health of all of us, they can’t run at a profitable rate for the moment. Six feet isn’t enough and winter is coming.

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/php/public-health-recommendations.html

    “While research indicates masks may help those who are infected from spreading the infection, there is less information regarding whether masks offer any protection for a contact exposed to a symptomatic or asymptomatic patient. Therefore, the determination of close contact should be made irrespective of whether the person with COVID-19 or the contact was wearing a mask. Because the general public has not received training on proper selection and use of respiratory PPE, it cannot be certain whether respiratory PPE worn during contact with an individual with COVID-19 infection protected them from exposure.”

    1. “While research indicates masks may help those who are infected from spreading the infection,”

      The mask is so you don’t spread it to others, not to protect yourself.

      https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

      “Cover your mouth and nose with a mask when around others
      You could spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick.
      The mask is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
      Everyone should wear a mask in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
      Masks should not be placed on young children under age 2, anyone who has trouble breathing, or is unconscious, incapacitated or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
      Do NOT use a mask meant for a healthcare worker. Currently, surgical masks and N95 respirators are critical supplies that should be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.
      Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The mask is not a substitute for social distancing.”

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