TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Many Hoosiers are getting tired of wearing masks. However, local health officials are still encouraging them to do so even when the mask mandate expires on April 6th.
On Tuesday, Governor Holcomb announced that the mask mandate will officially expire in all counties in Indiana beginning April 6th. An advisory will still be in place, but this may not be enough to stop a potential spike in COVID-19 cases. The Vigo County Health Commissioner, Dr. Darren Brucken gives News 10 his insight into the upcoming change.
Data shows new Covid-19 cases and positivity rates are on the decline locally. The state is recording some of the lowest case numbers in over six months. However, the number of cases is slowly climbing back up. Dr. Brukcen sees hospitalizations beginning to rise, especially among young, unvaccinated adults. He believes if we continue to remain cautious after the mask mandate is lifted, we may not see a significant spike.
"We're all apprehensive," Brucken said. "We are all hopeful but apprehensive nonetheless. We hope we don't see a spike from this. I think as people listen to common sense and stay vigilant and stay masked and distanced and continue to do what they need to do on a personal level, control your own variables, we should continue to see a falloff of case counts particularly as vaccinations mount."
Just because the mask mandate is expiring, doesn’t mean the coronavirus will stop spreading from person to person.
"Certainly the plea is that the pandemic is not over," Brucken said. We still have people getting cases and people getting sick every day. We are still advising people to wear a mask if they can/"
Masks will still be required at all state-buildings, hospitals, vaccination sites, and k-12 schools. Additionally, local businesses can decide if they will enforce mask-wearing or not. Otherwise, mask-wearing will not be required but is still encouraged, especially with how the virus is spread….
"COVID is a respiratory virus that has to get out of my body and into your body," Brucken said. "So if I have a barrier here and you have a barrier there and we have space between us. The likelihood of me transmitting the virus to you is minimized. If we are unmasked and close together, you are obviously going to be at a lot higher of a risk from contracting it from another person."
Dr. Brucken is also encouraging residents to get their vaccine if the state wants to continue to see a decline in case numbers,
"Everyone needs to get vaccinated as quickly as they can," Brucken said. "The vaccine surplus is starting to build and they are dropping the age requirements very quickly. Please consider getting vaccinated and that is going to help bring an end to this pandemic, finally"
Dr. Brucken told News 10 that he has been in contact with Mayor Bennet and several Vigo County Commissioners. They are hoping to release a plan here locally regarding the mask advisory early next week.