INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana will have a statewide face mask mandate starting next week, joining Kentucky and several other states in the attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Friday, Gov. Eric Holcomb officially signed an executive order requiring face covering in specific places. Holcomb mentioned the statewide face mask mandate on his Wednesday COVID-19 briefing.
Under the order, face coverings must be worn in public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing can’t be maintained. The order is in effect until at least August 26, Holcomb says. Other municipalities are allowed to impose more restrictive guidelines as they see fit.
Holcomb says he has been using data to drive decisions since the state’s first case coronavirus in early March. Currently he says, the numbers support the move for masks or face covering.
Latest Indiana COVID-19 status as of July 23, according to Holcomb:
- An increase in overall hospitalizations from approximately 600 a day near the end of June to approximately 800 now.
- The highest number of cases in a single day with 1,011 Hoosiers reported positive today
- A rise in COVID-19 positivity across the state from a low of 3.6% a month ago to nearly double that percentage now
- Some counties, which early on had minimal positive cases in some instances, now reporting regular double-digit positive cases
The order will take effect Monday, July 27. Holcomb said his order will also require masks in schools for grades 3 and above by students, teachers and other employees.
Attorney General response
Wednesday evening, Attorney General Curtis Hill issued an advisory opinion stating that Governor Eric Holcomb should call a special legislative session to consider a statewide mask mandate rather than issuing an executive order to that effect.
“Scientists tell us that wearing face masks is an effective means of helping prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19,” Attorney General Hill said. “The wisdom of wearing masks — or of laws requiring such measures — is not the issue here. Rather, the issue is whether we are following the proper and constitutional processes for enacting laws and whether we are respecting the distinct roles of each branch of state government.”
Executive orders have an important and legitimate function during times of emergency, Attorney General Hill says.
In his news release Hill said this about the mandate being a Class B misdemeanor offense, "before a certain conduct is determined to be subject to criminal penalty, it should receive considerable debate by the legislative body that represents the people of the state."
Other stories on WHAS11 News
- These states require face masks in public
- Mask mandates: These businesses are requiring face coverings
- VERIFY: Face mask facts vs. falsehoods
- More stores are requiring masks, but how is it enforced?
- New Albany passes resolution suggesting face coverings in public places
- Real-time Indiana updates: Statewide mask requirement effective July 27
- Silent spread of coronavirus keeps scientists grasping for clues
- Two Riley Kids celebrate going home with new hearts