Health

Floyd County, Indiana has extended its local mask mandate until 2021 even though Indiana’s statewide mask mandate is set to expire Nov. 14.

Since no vaccine will be ready for wide-spread use anytime soon, an extension to the face covering requirement is the best way to further protect citizens, Floyd County Health Officer Dr. Tom Harris said.

Harris acknowledges the extension will not be a popular move.

“People are really tired of wearing these masks,” Harris said. “I get it. We’re all there. But we need to continue to do it, because the rates are going up. Every time there’s a stage opening, we see a spike in cases, and we’ve seen a respectable spike in cases with stage 5.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb moved Indiana into Stage 5 of its reopening in September. Since then, the state has seen record numbers of COVID-19 cases.

In response, Holcomb last week extended the statewide mask mandate. It now expires on Nov. 14.

Harris says the bump in cases since Indiana moved to stage 5 of reopening has been significant.

“The disease is out there. It’s not going away. We need to sort of make peace with it and try to help our neighbors out and continue to wear the masks,” Harris said.

The mask will also help prevent the spread of the flu, which will reserve resources for the battle against COVID-19, Harris said.

John Boyle is a reporter and editor at WFPL news focused on Southern Indiana. He is a corps member with Report For America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.