Coronavirus

Marion County health leader considers need for masks at schools, Colts games

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — With new recommendations to mask up indoors regardless of vaccination status, is another local coronavirus mandate far behind?

“Right now, at the current, based on recommendations that we saw from CDC (the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and based on our local numbers, we are just recommending. We’re not requiring yet, but that is something that we will closely monitor our trends, to see whether it’s continuing,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department, said Wednesday morning at a news conference.

On Tuesday, both the CDC and the local health department recommended people, regardless of whether they are vaccinated against COVID-19, mask up in public indoor spaces.

“If I remove my mask and I just talk normally to you, I’m putting respiratory droplets in the air. Those droplets can remain 30 minutes to a little bit longer in the air. So, I can leave this room, but anyone coming into this space where I was talking, and inhale through their nose, they can become infected,” Caine said.

Mayor Joe Hogsett, at a Wednesday afternoon public safety walk, said he doesn’t see an immediate need for a mask mandate to be put before the City-County Council for consideration but noted it’s a fluid situation.

Lucas Oil Stadium was one of the last in the NFL cleared to allow fans to return. Will fans have to mask up?

“I don’t honestly know that answer to that yet because I think the first Colts game here is August preseason, so we’re a little bit a ways from that. So, we may have some much better answers for you in the next 10-14 days,” Caine said.

Should Marion County students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, be required to wear masks in schools?

“Let me just say it’s always been important for us to talk to our leadership with the public and the private schools. So, I’ve set up appointments for the next three days to talk to the leadership with our public and our private schools leaders, to talk about their challenges, their concerns and what my recommendations are,” Caine said.

News 8 asked people around in the Mass Ave. Cultural District if they think Marion County needs a new mask mandate.

“I don’t believe so. I think if you’re vaccinated, you’ve made that choice to get vaccinated and protected enough. I feel like people who haven’t chosen to get the vaccine have made that choice as well,” said Shelby Graves, of Indianapolis.

Brett Thomas, of Indianapolis, said, “It kind of depends. If the vaccination rate is still pretty low and the infection rate starts getting high, then I think absolutely, especially indoors as it becomes colder. But if more vaccines, if that rate goes up, then maybe not.”

Marion County businesses can still require masks at their establishments.

Caine said people deciding whether to mask up should think about if they’re going to be around unvaccinated people, or if they live with or are someone who could have high risk of COVID complications.

Marion County health officials continue urge people 12 and older to get a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic.

News 8’s Demie Johnson contributed to this report.

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