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Gov. Holcomb signs executive order mandating masks statewide

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed an executive order on July 24 making it mandatory that all Hoosiers wear face masks.

INDIANAPOLIS — Governor Eric Holcomb signed an executive order on Friday, mandating masks in the Hoosiers state.

“Hoosiers have worked hard to get where we are today with businesses open and people back at work. We want to keep it that way. We don’t want to dial things back. Face coverings can and will help us blunt the increase of this virus,” Gov. Holcomb said.

He made the announcement Wednesday, July 21 that the order would require face masks statewide. 

The mandate will go into effect July 27. 

State and local health departments will be responsible for enforcing compliance through education about the importance of wearing face coverings. The executive order does not include criminal penalties.

The executive order also outlines the requirements for mask-wearing in schools.

Holcomb said the decision came due to a spike in cases not only in Indiana but the surrounding states. There have been more than 600 cases per day for nine days in a row in Indiana, the first time that's happened during the pandemic.

"This is not about what I want to do or wished would be," said Holcomb. "This is what the reality is."

A reality Holcomb says, others don't want to believe.

Protesters who marched at the Statehouse this week have argued wearing a mask causes oxygen deprivation.  

Health care leaders say that's false.

 Another argument some have is that wearing a mask causes toxic carbon dioxide levels.

That's also been proven false.

And there's more.

"The mask is going to cause you to become more ill because you're going to re-breathe droplets," said Dr. Graham Carlos, chief of medicine for Eskenazi Health. "That's not true. That's a myth. The mask in some way is going to affect your ability to cough or expel secretions. That's not true. That's a myth."

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Some businesses, like Great Cuts on the south side of Indianapolis, put extra signs on their doors alerting customers to wear masks. Workers who did not want to be identified said customers have yelled obscenities and thrown things at stylists because they didn't want to wear a mask.

"The addition of enforcement to seat belt usage increased Americans propensity to put a seat belt on in less than 16 months, from 18 percent to 88 percent. The mandate, we believe, will help to change behavior for those who might be on the fence," said Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Family and Social Services Secretary.

"Even the president said yesterday it will get worse across the country. Patriotic duty to wear a mask," said Holcomb.

 A mask, Holcomb said, that can help save lives.

Here are the situations where Hoosiers will now be required to wear a mask when the mandate takes effect: 

-Masks must be worn by anyone over the age of eight when in indoor spaces, using public transportation or outside when you're not socially or physically distanced from someone who isn't in your household.  

-All students who are in third grade or above will be required to wear a mask at school.  All children are required to wear a face covering while on a school bus.

-Masks are also required for co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, with exceptions for strenuous physical activity. 

-Exceptions will be made for medical purposes. strenuous physical activity, eating and drinking. 

-Masks will be strongly recommended for those ages 2-7.

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