No Plans For A Face Mask Mandate In Elkhart County Or A Delay From Entering Next Stage Of Reopening

Jun 10, 2020

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Credit Justin Hicks / WVPE Public Radio

UPDATE: As of Thursday, Elkhart County has no plans to implement a face mask mandate or hold the County back from entering the next stage of Governor Eric Holcomb’s back-on-track plan. 

Elkhart County saw a 350 percent increase in positive COVID-19 cases in the month of May.

County officials asked state officials if Elkhart should hold off for a week before moving into stage 4 to get a better grasp of the rising case numbers.

Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder says state officials gave the ‘okay’ for Elkhart to move into stage 4, which allows for larger group gatherings.

“The State looked at the data and said that no, they don’t feel like holding Elkhart County back was warranted,” he says.

Yoder says there are also no plans for an order requiring people to wear face masks, but he says the Health Department plans to put out a directive outlining when masks should be used and when they aren’t needed.

He says a directive is stronger than a recommendation but not as powerful as a mandate.

Elkhart county ranks 4th among all Indiana counties for the highest number of coronavirus cases.

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Elkhart County is continuing to see a surge in confirmed positive COVID-19 cases and an increase in the percentage of people testing positive. Elkhart leaders responded during a virtual COVID-19 town hall Wednesday night.

Elkhart County has seen continually increasing numbers of positive COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks.

In the month of May the county saw a 350 percent increase in cases. Elkhart officials are looking at ways to flatten the curve - like continued education about the virus, especially to manufacturers and in the Latino community.

But officials have conflicting views about implementing a face mask order.

Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson says there are questions about how the County could enforce a mask order.

“I wish we were mandating masks," he says. "I know how difficult it is to wear them. In order to make sure we’re making sure we’re taking care of one another, masks are really the only way we currently have to slow the spread.”

Roberson says the possibility of a mask ordinance is still being discussed at the county level.

Officials from neighboring St. Joseph County recently attributed their ability to prevent a coronavirus spike to a face mask ordinance put in place in May that willl remain in place until at least July 4.

Contact Annacaroline at acaruso@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @AnnacarolineC16

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