Indiana governor imposing statewide face mask order

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 3:06 PM EDT
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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana will have a statewide face mask mandate starting next week, joining many other states in the attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Gov. Eric Holcomb said Wednesday the order will apply to anyone ages 8 and older in any indoor public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing can’t be maintained.

The order will take effect Monday.

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Holcomb said his order will also require masks in schools for grades 3 and above by students, teachers and other employees.

Holcomb said a renewed growth in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations necessitated the mask order.

The coronavirus positivity rate has increased to 7.0% in recent weeks.

“We don’t want to dial it back or put it in reverse or as some are shutting down again,” Holcomb said. “Face coverings can and will help us lower this increase. it has in other places. Around the country and indeed around the world. This is time sensitive now. "

There are a few exemptions to the mandate.

You do not need to wear a mask if you cannot for a medical reason, if you are doing strenuous physical activity or if you are eating or drinking.

Health officials say face coverings are critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and that wearing a mask isn’t harmful.

“Physicians and other clinicians have worn masks for a long time to protect themselves and their patients,” ISDH Chief Medical Officer Dr. Lindsay Weaver said. “This is standard practice to help prevent the spread of disease. You wouldn’t want to go into an operating room with a doctor that wasn’t wearing a mask. While the guidance on masks has changed throughout this pandemic, there are a growing number of studies that support wearing close face coverings to help reduce the transmission of COVID-19. Face coverings do not result in carbon dioxide elevations or decreased oxygen/ So once again, washing your hands, staying home if you’re sick, practicing social distancing and wearing masks will allow us to get back on track and safely return students to school in the fall.”

Holcomb said his order will also require masks in schools for grades 3 and above by students, teachers and other employees.

Students will need to wear them during extra-curricular activities and when they are riding on the school bus.

There are a few exceptions.

Students don't need to wear masks if the desks are spread out 3-6 feet apart from other students and teachers.

If teachers are 6 feet away from students, they do not need to wear a mask while teaching.

Students can remove the mask if it necessary for a specific teaching lesson or if they are participating in strenuous physical activity.

Health officials say now is the time to mask up for the kids.

“What we do now to decrease the community prevalence of COVID is what gets as many of our kids back to school as possible,” FSSA Secretary Dr. Jennifer Sullivan said. “This means you put your mask on. Limit large gatherings.Keep a physical distance of six feet from anyone you don’t live with. Keep surfaces and your hands clean. Not only will this limit viral transmission. It will build confidence in families to return their children to school and will show teachers and school staff that we care about them. Indiana flattened the curve for health care and now we flatten it for kids.”

Holcomb is expected to sign the order on Thursday.

(Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)

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