INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana will have a statewide face mask mandate starting next week, joining many other states in the attempt to slow the coronavirus spread, 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.
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. He said he did not want Indiana to have to follow other states and restore business restrictions that had been lifted in the past couple months.
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A fresh increase in Indiana’s hospitalizations for coronavirus infections was reported Wednesday by state health officials, keeping that figure stubbornly higher than what it was weeks ago.
The number of people with COVID-19 being treated in Indiana’s intensive care units also has grown to about 50% more than earlier this month soon after Gov. Eric Holcomb cited concerns about additional cases in delaying any steps toward lifting restrictions on businesses and crowd sizes.
Holcomb, who has declined to join other governors in issuing a statewide mask order, is scheduled to discuss the state’s coronavirus response during a Wednesday afternoon news briefing. Holcomb has previously supported plans for allowing fans to attend the rescheduled Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which released a safety plan Wednesday for the Aug. 23 race.
Coronavirus hospitalizations jumped by 66 people to 869 as of Tuesday — a figure that’s plunged since peaking in mid-April but has curved back up since late June, according to the state health department. Indiana’s ICU cases grew by 61 people to 328 on Tuesday, up from the low 200s two weeks earlier.
Health officials also reported 17 more deaths of people with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 infections, raising the state’s death toll to 2,863 since mid-March.
The cities of Indianapolis, Evansville, South Bend, Gary, Bloomington and West Lafayette are among those where local officials have imposed face mask mandates.