Mask Mandate Being Lifted April 6 in Evansville But Don’t Throw Your Mask Away Yet
MASK MANDATE TO DOWNGRADE TO MASK ADVISORY
Last week, Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced in a press conference that the "mask mandate" will be lifted on April 6th and move to a "mask advisory." And today, Mayor Winnecke held a press conference with the Health Dept and leadership from local health groups to talk about what that means for our community.
WHERE WILL I STILL NEED A MASK?
Hoosiers will have the choice to wear a mask in public but there will be some restrictions including in state buildings, vaccination clinics, healthcare facilities, mass transit, and schools.
WHAT ABOUT PRIVATE BUSINESSES?
Mayor Winnecke was also clear that businesses have the right to ask patrons to wear masks into their establishment as well. Businesses are currently evaluating their positions and releasing statements on requiring masks.
WHAT WAS THE DECISION BASED ON?
In the press conference today, Winnecke, the Health Dept. and healthcare leadership all advocated for mask-wearing but said it would no longer be enforced by the health department. The decision was made based on the number of COVID cases in the southern Indiana area, the number of hospital beds available, and the amount of antibody treatment available.
Dr. Huhnke of Deaconess Health System left the door open saying, "We believe the vaccination is effective against the vast majority of the variants out there in the public. As that progresses if we have an increased number of cases, we do look to see if that is actually attributed to a variant. And we haven't seen a spike - a very significant spike - in this community of any of the variants thus far. We'll continue to monitor that though. And that might be one reason why the mask advisory would be elevated again. Simply because of an increased number of cases."
Mayor Winnecke stated, "I think a lot of people are going to wear masks because I think a lot of people understand it's about personal decisions. And taking personal responsibility for the public health of their community. City government can't dictate every means by which we live. But if the public understands all they have to do is continue to wear a mask and get a vaccination and our community's public health will be stronger - I think a lot of people will do it."
WHAT ABOUT THE VACCINE?
Over 30% of Vanderburgh County residents have received at least one vaccine and 90-100% of nursing home residents are now vaccinated. Starting March 31, all Hoosiers 16+ will be eligible to schedule a COVID vaccine. The CDC has stated that you are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after your second dose in a 2-dose series, such as the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or two weeks after a single-dose vaccine, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine.
They go on to say that if you've been fully vaccinated you can:
- You can gather indoors with fully vaccinated people without wearing a mask.
- You can gather indoors with unvaccinated people from one other household (for example, visiting with relatives who all live together) without masks, unless any of those people or anyone they live with has an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
- If you’ve been around someone who has COVID-19, you do not need to stay away from others or get tested unless you have symptoms.
- However, if you live in a group setting (like a correctional or detention facility or group home) and are around someone who has COVID-19, you should still stay away from others for 14 days and get tested, even if you don’t have symptoms.
Winnecke specifically asked that everyone be respectful of other people's decisions regarding masks.
IS KENTUCKY STILL UNDER A MASK MANDATE?
At this time, Kentucky still has a mask mandate in effect and Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has urged Holcomb to reconsider downgrading the mask mandate to an advisory.
LOOK: Answers to 30 common COVID-19 vaccine questions
While much is still unknown about the coronavirus and the future, what is known is that the currently available vaccines have gone through all three trial phases and are safe and effective. It will be necessary for as many Americans as possible to be vaccinated in order to finally return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy, and hopefully these 30 answers provided here will help readers get vaccinated as soon they are able.