Face masks or coverings are now mandatory in public spaces in Indiana. The governor signed an executive order on Friday to help slow the spread of COVID-19. That went into effect at just after midnight this morning.
Governor Eric Holcomb’s order however, did not make it a crime not to wear a mask, as originally planned. Instead of the possibility of being charged with a misdemeanor, state and local health departments will enforce compliance mostly through education.
The order requires a face covering over the nose and mouth when inside a business, public building or other indoor place open to the public. However that does not apply to private offices, workspace or meetings in which six feet of social distancing can be maintained. It also applies to outdoor spaces where social distancing is not possible and while using public transportation, taxis, private car services or ride-sharing services.
There are exemptions including children younger than 8, those with medical, mental health or disabilities which prevent them from wearing a face covering, those exercising or taking part in a sport, or driving in a vehicle with passengers who live with you.
The governor said he was using data to make this decision, pointing to an increase in hospitalizations, an increase in positive daily test results and an increase in the percentage of tests that come back positive.
Dr. Brian Niedbalski, the Bartholomew County health officer, explained last week the importance of wearing face coverings.
The order is set to expire on Wednesday, Aug. 26th unless it is rescinded or extended.
According to the most recent update from the Indiana State Department of Health, there are 62,372 total confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indiana, an increase of 860 cases since Saturday’s update.
There have been 2,706 deaths in Indiana as of Sunday afternoon’s update, an increase of 8 since Saturday.
Bartholomew County has had 683 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 45 deaths.
The most recent death in our area was July 21st, in Jackson County. The county has had 525 confirmed cases and four deaths.
Of the 237 deaths in area counties from COVID-19, 58.2 percent have been of patients who were 80 or older. The next largest group was patients 70-79, with 19.4 percent of the deaths and patients 60 to 69 had 15.6 percent of the deaths.