More Indiana cities mandating masks as virus illnesses grow
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — More Indiana cities have decided to impose mask mandates as health officials reported Monday the state’s most hospitalizations of people with coronavirus-related illnesses in nearly a month.
West Lafayette’s mayor announced Monday an immediate requirement that face coverings be worn inside all places of business open to the public, all city facilities, public transportation and high-density workplaces.
The order from Republican Mayor John Dennis cited the city’s high population density and the expected upcoming return of Purdue University students as risks for spreading COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus.
A mask requirement announced by Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke is scheduled to take effect Wednesday. Winnecke pointed to consecutive days of Vanderburgh County recording its highest number of confirmed coronavirus infections when he announced the mandate on Friday.
Many people were wearing masks on their own, Winnecke said, “but the numbers show that more people need to.”
The true number of cases is likely far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected and not feel sick.
Similar mask requirements are in place in Indianapolis and St. Joseph, Elkhart and LaGrange counties in northern Indiana.
Hospitals around the state had 764 coronavirus patients as of Sunday, according to the Indiana State Department of Health. That is the most since June 19, but that number is about half the cases the state saw in much of April and early May. Hospitalizations had fallen to as low as 595 on June 26.
Deaths have continued to decline, with health officials adding two COVID-19 deaths on Monday to the state’s total of 2,762 confirmed or presumed coronavirus deaths since mid-March.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has declined to issue a statewide mask mandate, but he cited worries about possible increases in coronavirus cases across the state in deciding earlier this month to keep capacity limits in place for restaurants, bars and entertainment venues in place until at least Saturday.