The major COVID-19 news across the state of Indiana on Wednesday came at governor Eric Holcomb’s mid-afternoon press conference. Holcomb announced a statewide mandate for wearing face coverings to prevent the spread of the virus.
The governor’s order is to be issued Thursday, and is supposed to take effect on Monday, July 27.
The governor’s order will make a failure to wear a face covering, in certain prescribed circumstances, a Class B misdemeanor, which carries a possible sentence of up to six months in jail and up to a $1,000 fine.
But at the press conference, Holcomb said, “Please know the mask police will not be patrolling Hoosier streets.”
Will the rules on masks in the next Monroe County health order include a strict mandate for wearing face coverings when in public? Maybe.
During Friday’s weekly press conference, held by local leaders about the community’s COVID-19 response, city and county officials stayed squarely on message: They’re hoping to have a single rule for the entire county.
It’s less certain what that rule will be. City officials are pushing for the consistent rule to be something fairly robust. Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, said that he and other city officials think “having a substantial mandate is a prudent thing to do.”
Based on Caudill’s remarks at Friday’s press conference, it’s still not settled what that requirement will look like.
Caudill recognized that support for a mask mandate in the county is strong, but said it’s is not universal. “We recognize there are a large number of people who are supportive of a mask requirement, and some people wish it was in place back in March,” Caudill said.
Caudill added, “Others are clearly letting us know that they are not in support of that. So we do hope to find some balance as we look at best public health practice around face coverings.”
Monroe County in-person voting sites on June 2 will have masks available for voters who want to wear one. And the details for a June 23 blood drive at the Monroe County convention are now set. Appointments can be made for times between 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Monroe County convention center.
Those two items were among the news nuggets passed along by Monroe County’s director of emergency management, Allison Moore, at Friday’s weekly press conference on COVID-19 response issues.
On Friday, Moore reported that the county is expecting next week another drop of personal protection equipment (PPE)—like masks, gloves and sanitizer—from the state’s department of homeland security.
In broad strokes, it puts the county in Stage 2 of Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s “Back on Track” plan announced on May 1, with a key difference: Monroe County will stay in Stage 2 an extra week compared to the governor’s plan—that is, through May 31.
A virtual press conference on Monday featured various government officials, who talked about local measures that are being taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s so far claimed 17 lives in the state.
During the conference, Bloomington city councilmember Dave Rollo posed a question: Could the Monroe County health department issue a declaration saying that grocery stores cannot prohibit their workers from wearing masks to protect themselves and others from infection with COVID-19?
Rollo didn’t get an answer to the question at the press conference—a technical glitch prevented some county officials from joining the call.