Marion County health officials discuss lifting mask mandate, capacity limits

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Marion County health officials have outlined what they will be including in the latest public health order for the City-County Council to review on Monday.

It includes changes to the mask mandate and increases multiple capacity restrictions. While some changes are expected to happen at the City-County Council meeting, Mayor Joe Hogsett says the biggest changes could come closer to the Fourth of July if people in Marion County can meet the mark.

At the end of May, 36% of Marion County residents were fully vaccinated. Local health officials say to continue to lift restrictions, they want that number to rise significantly.

“Just over one-third of our county’s residents are vaccinated and we need to get that higher,” Hogsett said Wednesday.

The goal is to reach 50% of people vaccinated by the Fourth of July.

“Upon meeting that benchmark we will be in a position to remove further restrictions for all of the residents for Marion County,” Hogsett said.

Until then, officials are working on a public health order to submit to the City-County Council for Monday. As part of that proposal, Dr. Virginia Caine, Marion County Public Health Department director, plans to include lifting the mask mandate for people who are fully vaccinated.

“We have to do the honor system. There is just no way we have the ability to know who is vaccinated and not,” Caine said Wednesday.

The health order is expected to lighten capacity restrictions and change guidance for places like summer camps, public pools, golf courses and campgrounds. For those participating in summer school, they may get the first semi-normal school experience in more than a year.

“If you have a student that is fully vaccinated or teacher or staff that is fully vaccinated, they would not have to follow requirements of wearing a mask and doing social distancing,” Caine said.

Sporting events are still up in the air. Currently, the Indianapolis Colts are the only NFL team to not have the green light to fill the stadium to full capacity this season.

“That is my goal to hopefully make that happen and it depends on this community and how quickly they respond,” Caine said.

The City-County Council will vote on the new public health order on Monday. If it is passed, it will go into effect immediately.