NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - Floyd County is extending its face covering mandate through the end of the year. This comes as Indiana experiences an escalation in COVID-19 cases and Gov. Eric Holcomb moves to stage five of the state’s reopening plan.
In a press release Monday, Floyd Co. Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris explained “restrictions must be extended” to reduce COVID-19 transmission and avoid an increase in new cases. Harris ordered the county’s face mask mandate to remain in effect until Dec. 31 at midnight.
The order may be extended again depending on pandemic conditions.
Under the mandate, all individuals must wear a facial covering over their nose and mouth when they are at:
- An indoor area open to the public including public transportation
- A private indoor or outdoor area where a social distance of six feet from individuals outside their households cannot be maintained
- An outdoor public area where a social distance of six feet from individuals outside their household cannot be maintained
- An enclosed public space or place of business.
“Floyd County has seen improvement in the overall index rates of illness,” Harris said. “The index has dropped for the last two weeks from 8.9 to 5.1. However, the Floyd County Health Department has noted spikes in rates after reopening phases in the past; we hope to mitigate this by continuing the Mask Mandate until at least December 31st.”
The index had peaked at 20.9 in mid-April, and had dropped to 1.3 in late June.
Several New Albany residents told WAVE 3 News they were willing to continue wearing face masks for a multitude of reasons.
“I don’t mind it, it’s something I’ve kind of become accustomed to. I also have a daughter who goes to school in Floyd County schools, and if this keeps them being able to go to school in person at least part time I’m all for it,” Desiree Schultz said.
“I’m willing to continue wearing a mask, especially to protect those of us who are most vulnerable; our elderly and our immunocompromised people,” Lori Ballard said.
“Stay home if you don’t want to wear a mask because my life and my children’s lives and other people’s lives are important to us,” Shanelle Brightwell said.
On Friday, Holcomb extended Indiana’s statewide mask mandate until Nov. 14. Harris said he extended the Floyd County’s mask mandate beyond the state’s to eliminate any uncertainty on how long masks may actually be needed.
“We’re seeing a spike in cases after Stage 5 and realistically there’s no expectations the state’s going to go down significantly,” he said. “I think it’s confusing for people with these different expiration dates, so we’re going to make it easy, we’re going to be realistic about it.”
Harris tells WAVE 3 News the Floyd County’s mask mandate will last until rates of COVID-19 decrease significantly and that may not happen unless there’s a vaccine.