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Masks now recommended in indoor spaces in Marion County - will other measures follow?

The number of residents fully vaccinated in Marion County remains at 43%, a big source of frustration for county health director Dr. Virginia Caine.

INDIANAPOLIS — Like other places across Indiana and the country at large, Marion County is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases. The positivity rate is nearly 6%, up from 1.9% on July 2.

Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine said the vast majority of cases are tied to the delta variant, which is far more contagious and often leads to more serious complications.

"Whether we see a surge that will continue to be significant will depend on our ability to see the community vaccinated," Caine said. 

The number of residents fully vaccinated in Marion County remains at 43%, a big source of frustration for Caine, prompting her to plead, "People do right thing for your community, if not for yourself."

Tuesday, Caine announced that masks are now highly recommended in indoor public spaces. It comes as kids get ready to return to school, with those under age 12 not yet eligible to be vaccinated.

Indianapolis Public Schools and MSD Wayne Township are requiring those not vaccinated to wear masks. 

Will others soon follow? 

Caine has set up meetings with public and private school leaders over the next few days, "to talk about their concerns and challenges and what my recommendations are," she said.

RELATED: Two-thirds of Indiana counties affected by latest CDC mask guidance

As for re-imposing other measures, such as social distancing and capacity limits at bars and restaurants, Caine said that's definitely a possibility, but not yet, and not if more people roll up their sleeves.

"If we can continue to get people vaccinated, it will be very tough for this virus to gain hold of anybody," she said.

RELATED: Marion County follows CDC guidance, recommends masks in indoor public places

She stressed that 98.5% of those hospitalized in Marion County because of COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

"Don't wait. You can't get vaccinated at the time you're sick and being admitted for COVID," Caine said.

While a small percentage of those fully vaccinated have been diagnosed with COVID-19, they are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms. Caine said the biggest concern is whether they can spread the virus, and that's why she's now recommending everyone wear masks.

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