INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb signed Executive Order 20-37 Friday that requires face coverings beginning Monday, July 27. But notably, the order no longer includes enforcement measures that would have constituted a misdemeanor for those who do not comply.
The governor said the order is designed to slow the spread of COVID-19 as case numbers rise in Indiana, in record numbers in recent days.
“Hoosiers have worked hard to get where we are today with businesses open and people back at work. We want to keep it that way. We don’t want to dial things back. Face coverings can and will help us blunt the increase of this virus,” Gov. Holcomb said.
According to the Executive Order, state and local health departments will be responsible for enforcing compliance through education about the importance of wearing face coverings.
There are no criminal penalties listed in the order, but it does include requirements for mask-wearing in schools.
Gov. Holcomb said the state has used data to drive these decisions since the first case of COVID-19 in Indiana was reported in early March.
According to the governor, Indiana currently has seen an increase in overall hospitalizations from approximately 600 a day near the end of June to approximately 800 now.
The highest number of cases in a single day with 1,011 Hoosiers reported positive was announced Friday.
Indiana has also seen a rise in COVID-19 positivity across the state from a low of 3.6% a month ago to nearly double that percentage now. Some counties, which early on had minimal positive cases in some instances, now reporting regular double-digit positive cases.
The Executive Order is in effect until at least Aug. 26, and local governments may impose more restrictive guidelines.
Click here to see the executive order.
On this week’s edition of IN Focus, we discussed the political fallout with our panelists, and heard from two Indiana Republicans who questioned the governor’s initial plan to criminally enforce the order, including Indiana attorney general Curtis Hill and Rep. Trey Hollingsworth.