By Tom Davies, Associated Press
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor extended Wednesday the statewide face mask order that he first issued a month ago aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.
Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb announced he was keeping the mask mandate in place for another 30 days.
Holcomb said he was also extending the state’s limits crowd sizes for restaurants, bars and public events. Those orders were all set to expire late Wednesday unless the governor acted.
Holcomb said he was pleased the state’s rates of new coronavirus cases have been holding steady and he does not want to see it trending up again.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.
Indiana’s statewide face mask mandate is set to expire unless Gov. Eric Holcomb acts Wednesday to extend the order he issued a month ago aimed at slowing the coronavirus spread.
Holcomb, who scheduled a Wednesday afternoon news conference, said last month the mask order was needed because of a renewed growth in the number of COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations across Indiana since he had started easing business and travel restrictions in early May.
State health officials on Wednesday recorded 18 more coronavirus-related deaths. That raised the state’s pandemic death toll to 3,259, including confirmed and presumed coronavirus cases, in the five months since Indiana’s first fatality was reported in mid-March, according to the Indiana State Department of Health.
Indiana’s COVID-19 death rate has remained steady since the mask order took effect July 27. Both coronavirus hospitalizations and the seven-day average of 920 newly confirmed infections as of Tuesday have remained slightly higher than a month ago.
The current statewide mask order is set to expire late Wednesday, along with the limits Holcomb has kept in place on crowd sizes for restaurants, bars and public events.
Violating the mask order has carried no penalties. It directs face covering use by anyone ages 8 and older in any indoor public or business areas and at outdoor public spaces when sufficient distancing can’t be maintained. It also requires masks in schools for grades 3 and above by students, teachers and other employees.