Indiana governor extends statewide masks order by 30 days

(AP) – ’s nationwide face mask ordinance will remain in effect for another month, as Governor Eric Holcomb said Wednesday it was still needed to control the spread of the coronavirus.

Holcomb placed the mask order for the first time last month as the number of -19 infections and hospitalizations across Indiana rose again since it began easing business and travel restrictions in early May.

The Republican governor also expanded limits on the amount of restaurants, bars, and . These orders were all due to expire late Wednesday unless the governor acted.

Holcomb said he was pleased that the number of new coronavirus cases had remained constant over the past few weeks. We want the trend to go down. “

There are no penalties in Holcomb’s order for violations of the state mask mandate, which mandates the use of face coverings by people aged 8 and over in indoor public spaces or business areas as well as in outdoor public areas if sufficient distance cannot be maintained. It also requires masks in schools from grade 3 onwards from students, teachers and other staff.

Holcomb admitted that many residents disobey orders to wear face masks and said he would continue to emphasize education about punishment.

“There are some people who don’t believe it will help,” said Holcomb. “I would disagree and offer science as a counter-argument.”

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Woody Myers, who challenges Holcomb in the November election, said Holcomb should join other governors by adding possible criminal sanctions to the mask mandate.

“Maintaining ‘law and order’ is an important component of public health management,” said Myers, a doctor and former state health commissioner.

Holcomb’s announcement means that Indiana restaurants will continue to have 75% capacity in their dining rooms, while bars, nightclubs, bowling alleys, museums, and movie theaters may be open at half capacity. The state will also continue its current limit of 250 people for social gatherings unless health officials have approved safety plans for these events.

State health officials recorded 18 more coronavirus-related deaths on Wednesday. This brought the state’s pandemic death toll to 3,259, including both confirmed and suspected coronavirus cases, in the five months since Indiana’s first death in mid-March, according to the Indiana Department of Health.

The death rate in Indiana has remained constant since the mask order went into effect on July 27th. Both coronavirus hospital stays and the 7-day average of 920 newly confirmed infections on Tuesday are slightly higher than a month ago.

Dr. State health commissioner Kristina Box said while the Indiana hospital maintained a stable intensive care unit and ventilatory capacity for additional coronavirus patients, nationwide hospital admissions of 987 COVID-19 patients on Monday rose nearly two-thirds from the June low 595 patients.

Holcomb said he hasn’t set a specific level of coronavirus cases where state restrictions would be lifted, but he believed mask order and other steps would keep the spread of COVID-19 in check.

“I shudder to think about where we would be if we had just said, ‘Come on whatever’. We’ll just keep acting as if this wasn’t an infectious spread through airborne droplets”, said Holcomb.

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