Masks will be mandatory in Elkhart County beginning Tuesday.
Dr. Lydia Mertz, M.D., the executive health officer, signed a health order
requiring people to wear face coverings indoors and outdoors, when social distancing cannot be maintained among people who are not members of their household.
Masks also must be worn in businesses by employees and visitors. The new measure comes as Elkhart County grapples with more than 3,000 cases of COVID-19.
"You have to think about the people you're around," offered Mertz. "Do you want to infect your grandparents or your older aunts and uncles or even your children?"
On Tuesday, Dr. Kristina Box, M.D., the Indiana State Health Department commissioner, visited Elkhart County. Of the visit, state officials told 16 News Now in an e-mail:
Dr. Box chose to visit Elkhart County because it is seeing an increase in cases and Dr. Box wanted to discuss that increase and emphasize the need for continued steps such as testing and wearing masks to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Box says the county took a bold step requiring face masks to be worn in public, and this step is very appropriate given the increase in cases. She shared information with county officials on the increases and how they compare to the rest of the state. She also notified commissioners that ISDH employees will be taking over testing following an issue with an Optum-run testing site and emphasized the importance of access to testing for all populations.
Mertz said CDC officials are expected to visit in the coming weeks to learn why the county is battling a high infection rate.
say everyone in the county will be required to wear a face mask when they can't stay six feet apart in indoor and outdoor public places.
The health order comes as the state health department visits Elkhart County to talk about the recent spike in coronavirus cases.
From the "City of Elkhart, Indiana - Municipal Government" Facebook page:
As of Midnight, Tuesday, June 30, Elkhart County is under a mask mandate.
Masks must be worn in all spaces where 6' distancing is not possible. Indoors or outdoors, public or private -- wear a mask.
Questions about enforcement will arise, but it's important to remember that this step is about the language we use. When we say, "mandate" instead of "recommend" it indicates how seriously local officials are taking this crisis and how seriously you should take it too.
Elkhart County's rate of positives is over 15% where the rest of the state is at 5% positive. Something big had to be done to slow our spread and this mask mandate is key.