INDIANAPOLIS — Along with more vaccine availability across the state, Governor Eric Holcomb has announced that Indiana’s statewide mask mandate will expire as of April 6, 2021. In its place will remain a mask advisory, along with individual requirements in certain cities and businesses.
Under the new guidelines, masks will still be required in K-12 schools, all Indiana state buildings, and COVID-19 vaccine and testing sites. Likewise, per President Biden’s national mask mandate issued in January, they will be required on federal land and inside federal buildings (such as federal courthouses, post offices, national parks, etc.).
Even after April 6, localities in Indiana will remain able to enforce their own mask mandates, as will private businesses throughout the state. During his announcement, Governor Holcomb said he will continue to mask up during daily activities and encouraged others to do the same.
“When I visit my favorite restaurants or conduct a public event, I will continue to appropriately wear a mask,” Holcomb said. “It's the right thing to do. Hoosiers who take these recommended precautions will help us get to what I hope is the tail end of this pandemic.”
According to the AARP, six states have already dropped their mask mandates: Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. Indiana will be among a handful of states to join the list in April. Governor Andy Beshear has not made any changes to Kentucky's mask mandate yet.
Many state leaders across the country have pointed to increased vaccinations for justification in easing COVID-19 restrictions; however, the Centers for Disease Control has warned states against this, as more contagious variants continue to spread throughout the country.
“Continued relaxation of prevention measures while cases are still high and while concerning variants are spreading rapidly throughout the United States is a serious threat to the progress we have made as a nation,” said Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.
It is difficult to know this early the exact ramifications of expired mask mandates in other states, given that there are a number of factors the influence case and death rates, including new variant spread. However, projections from researchers at the University of Washington earlier this month showed that deaths in Texas could increase by 50% following the revocation of its mask mandate.