Mask requirement should stay in Indiana for now


The Tribune

This past weekend marked a full year since Indiana recorded its first known case of COVID-19.

Since, more than 660,000 tests have come back positive and 12,000 deaths have been connected to the pandemic statewide.

While some public health practices have changed over time, one has remained a cornerstone in curbing the spread of the virus: wearing a face covering while in public.

At the onset of the pandemic, despite the pleas of the world’s most respected doctors, many Americans were skeptical in wearing masks due to the politicization of the practice. It took longer than it should’ve, but state governments eventually got on board with the idea and put orders in place to require it.

Major progress has been made in recent months in regards to getting the number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths down, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last week that now is not the time for states to give up on masking and social distancing.

Despite the alarms, the governors of Texas and Mississippi both announced they were removing mask mandates. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott even went as far to say his state would be “100% open” by March 10.

With the news, Rep. Jim Banks, R-Indiana, offered his opinion on the matter. Banks said “enough is enough” with masks on Facebook, and on Twitter he signaled he wants Indiana to be the next state to remove the requirement.

Currently, Indiana’s mask mandate is in place through at least March 31.

During his weekly press conference on Wednesday, Holcomb was asked if he had talked to Banks about his statement.

Holcomb dismissed Banks by saying, “I’ll continue to focus on what’s going on in Indiana, not around the country.”

Right now, Holcomb, who works hand-in-hand with the Indiana State Department of Health, couldn’t be more right — we’ve made it too far to go back, and comparing ourselves to other states is a dangerous mode of thinking.

Indiana is outpacing the country in its vaccination efforts by almost a full percentage point at the moment, and has opened the vaccine to almost one-third of the state’s population. However, it will take at least another month to get a majority of the population vaccinated, and health experts say they will likely recommend masks be worn for an additional period of time after that.

It’s understandable that many Hoosiers are tired of abiding by the health guidelines, but more patience is needed as we get closer to returning to a sense of normalcy.

Hoosiers need to continue trusting doctors and scientists when it comes to mask usage — not politicians.

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