Counties around Indiana are dropping their mask mandates and other coronavirus restrictions after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control released new, looser guidance Thursday for people vaccinated against COVID-19. Marion County could be next, with changes expected this week.
In the wake of the CDC announcement, which said that vaccinated Americans generally don’t need to wear masks, social distance or get tested after a coronavirus exposure, the Marion County Health Department said it would review its policies before making decisions. Updates are expected at the department’s next biweekly COVID-19 update, which is set for Wednesday afternoon.
“The Marion County Public Health Department is continuing to evaluate current public health orders in the context of the CDC’s new guidance for fully vaccinated individuals,” said spokeswoman Aliya Wishner in a statement Tuesday. “We are hopeful about our city’s continued comeback, and anticipate recommending changes to current restrictions at the next COVID update this week.”
Some localities kept their mask mandates in place even after Indiana ended its statewide order in early April, including Indianapolis. But some of the holdouts are cutting their orders short after the new CDC guidance.
St. Joseph County, which includes South Bend, rescinded its mandate Thursday, two weeks before it was set to end on May 27, according to a news release. The day after, Monroe County revoked its own mask order, while the city of Bloomington retracted an executive order on masking and gathering limits. Both moves went into effect Monday, according to news releases.
But whatever the Marion County Health Department decides, it would just be a recommendation, Wishner noted Tuesday.
Public Law 219, which the Legislature passed over Gov. Eric Holcomb’s veto on May 10, strips local health departments of the authority to unilaterally set emergency orders containing stricter restrictions than the state of Indiana. Now, local health departments need approval from local governments to make their more rigorous recommendations binding.
Indianapolis’ City-County Council met the evening of the veto override to keep the area’s current pandemic orders in place. The council doesn’t meet again until early June, but could gather before then to address new health department recommendations.