Gov. Holcomb says no to statewide mask mandate amid COVID-19 surge

Coronavirus

INDIANAPOLIS — Despite Indiana’s ongoing rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, Gov. Eric Holcomb says he will not impose a statewide mask mandate.

According to the Indiana State Department of Health, new cases and hospitalizations stand at rates Indiana has not seen since February. The state’s COVID-19 positivity rate has topped 9% over the past week.

When we asked Holcomb about the surge Wednesday, he said he is not considering any statewide restrictions.

“We are not going to have a mask mandate statewide,” said Gov. Holcomb.

Holcomb said he is focused on making sure Hoosiers have access to the COVID-19 vaccine and the correct information on the virus and vaccinations.

“The goal that the state of Indiana has is to make sure they have that access,” Holcomb said. “It’s easy, it’s free. That they have access to the data that should direct them on how to be safe.”

Holcomb said local communities are welcome to impose their own safety guidelines.

“We’re not going to mandate people staying inside,” Holcomb said. “We are not going to mandate everyone doing one thing when this is different per community.”

As of Wednesday, every county in Indiana falls under the CDC’s recommendation that everyone wear a mask in indoor public places, regardless of vaccination status.

Even without a mask mandate in effect, doctors are still urging everyone to follow that guidance.

“It’s fairly clear that masks can still stop it, but if you’re not masked, there’s a really good chance you could catch it, even through momentary contact,” said Dr. Paul Calkins, associate chief medical executive for IU Health. “And there is some evidence that even people who are vaccinated can pass the virus along.”

Congregate living facilities, the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and some state government facilities have stricter guidelines, Holcomb said.

Earlier this year, the Indiana legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass a law requiring local governing bodies to approve any local health orders that are stricter than those from the state.

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