BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Monroe County has taken a step Friday, working to reinstate their county-wide mask mandate.
Leaders believe this could go into effect as early as next Wednesday, Aug. 4 requiring everyone, regardless of vaccine history to mask while inside public places like restaurants.
Like before, you won’t need a mask on while eating, pulling it up and down between bites… however while waiting to be seated, leaving to use the bathroom or walking about the business – a mask will once again be required.
“I have to say this is like Groundhog Day the movie. Here we go again. Except that was a comedy. This is a tragedy,” Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said. “We are regressing. People are dying in our state, in our country, because not enough of us are getting vaccinated.”
Fighting the same enemy, only this time, with a different name as the COVID-19 virus has mutated into the more easily transmissible Delta Variant.
“We have let the virus mutate and come at us again. The virus is the enemy here. And we have to come together to vanquish it. We know-how, we have the tools, but we do not have the collective civic will to do so. That is a tragedy,” Mayor Hamilton said. “But there is also far too much incredibly misguided leadership and tragically short-sighted actions by tens of millions of people.”
Monroe County is reenforcing masks as less than 60% of the eligible population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the surging variant.
It’s a different story at Indiana University in Bloomington.
The university, requiring students to get the vaccine, opting-out only for religious or medical reasons, reports a vaccination rate of 85%.
“Honestly, as of today, it’s safer to be on campus than it is not on campus,” Indiana University Bloomington Vice President of Engagement Kirk White said.
Fully vaccinated students returning to IU as early as Aug. 15 will not be required to mask. This applies to all IU campuses.
According to the university website, all individuals, regardless of their vaccination status will be required to wear a mask:
- on-campus buses (per guidelines from the TSA)
- indoors at IU COVID-19 symptomatic testing locations
- indoors at IU childcare facilities
- inside health care facilities
Only steps from campus along Kirkwood Avenue sits Nicks English Hut. The busy restaurant and bar welcomed back mask less patrons while they could Friday evening. Hungry customers hope the impending mask mandate doesn’t drive business away from other small businesses like it.
“How inconvenient can it be to sit with your partner and, you put your mask down and you eat your burger, you just have to walk in with your mask on,” Bloomington Resident David Brykalski said. “I’m certainly thankful that things are starting to open up now but… with the new variant, you know, that sort of puts another cold blanket on top of the warmth and fuzziness of going out.”
The mask order will not go into effect until it is approved by the county board of health.
Friday, Aug 6 the Hosier Hills Food Bank will organize a vaccine clinic from 10 a.m. to noon at their 2333 West Industrial Dr. location for interested individuals.
They will be administering the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on site.