The Elkhart County Health Department is recommending that all residents wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
The Centers for Disease Controls has labeled the county as having “substantial” spread of the Delta variant, which is more contagious and more transmissible than other variants of the coronavirus.
The CDC recommends wearing a mask in any area that has substantial or high transmission of the virus.
At the Aug. 2 Elkhart Common Council meeting, County Health Officer Dr. Bethany Wait said hospitalizations in the county have been rising as the Delta variant becomes more prevalent.
“We are likely in a situation where we are going to see full hospitals,” she said. “I don’t know how we can’t, at this point, have full hospitals.”
She said masking will help protect the county’s elderly and immunocompromised populations, as well as children younger than 12, who aren’t yet eligible for vaccination.
“If we want to reduce the burden on our hospitals, reduce the burden on our nursing homes, we have to put a mask on,” Wait said.
The health department also recommends universal indoor masking for all students, teachers, staff and visitors at county schools. Masking is currently optional at Elkhart, Goshen and Concord Community Schools.
Despite rising cases and hospitalizations, Wait said at the Aug. 2 meeting that she didn’t anticipate any new mask mandates at either the state or local level.
“I don’t think that I would be able to get those pushed through. I just don’t,” Wait said. “So the most that I can do is to strongly encourage everybody to continue to do the mitigation as best as you can.”
You can read the full release from the Elkhart County Health Department on its Facebook page.
Contact Gemma at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.
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