Gov. Eric Holcomb supporting Indiana schools with face mask mandates

Indiana’s governor gave his support Monday to the growing number of school districts across the state issuing mask mandates for students and staff as they try to head off more COVID-19 outbreaks.

Posted: Aug 17, 2021 9:39 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s governor gave his support Monday to the growing number of school districts across the state issuing mask mandates for students and staff as they try to head off more COVID-19 outbreaks.

Several of the state’s largest school districts in the Indianapolis area began requiring masks for indoor areas on Monday after starting the school year without such requirements, reacting to a growing number of COVID-19 infections among students as the more transmissible delta variant continues surging in the state.

AP FILE - In this Thursday, April 30, 2020 file photo, Gov. Eric Holcomb wears a mask in Kokomo, Ind.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb said he would continue his policy of allowing local officials to impose mask rules and other steps to stem the coronavirus spread even as several school boards have faced vocal — and sometimes misleading — opposition to such actions.

“I think the schools that are putting mask mandates into place are making a wise decision when the facts warrant it,” Holcomb said. “I’m not surprised by the pushback having lived through the last year and a half.”

RELATED: Fort Wayne Community Schools' students back in class for 1st day of 2021-22 school year

Holcomb’s stance differs from that by Republican governors in Florida, Texas and other states that have issued statewide orders prohibiting mask-wearing mandates in schools.

In the past week week, 1,452 new COVID-19 cases were recorded among K-12 students in the state — four times more than the previous week, according to updated figures Monday from the Indiana Department of Health.

An additional 80 teachers and 118 non-teaching staff also have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous seven days, which is more than twice the number who tested positive the week before.

Statewide hospitalizations for COVID-19 have also continued growing to levels last seen in February.

The state health department reported that Indiana hospitals were treating 1,462 virus patients as of Sunday — up by one-quarter from a week earlier and 380% of early July’s hospitalization level.

Of those, 368 were intensive care unit patients.

Holcomb, who received a COVID-19 vaccination shot during a public event in March, said all of the 137 new COVID-19 patients in Indiana’s intensive care units last week were unvaccinated.

“I will go as so far as to say the only thing to fear about the vaccine is fear itself,” Holcomb said. “The numbers prove that it works.”

About 45% of Indiana residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the 16th lowest rate among the states, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Six large Indianapolis-area school districts — the Carmel, Hamilton Southeastern and Noblesville schools in Hamilton County and Lawrence Township, Washington Township and Pike Township districts in Marion County — began requiring masks on Monday. The Merrillville schools in northwestern Indiana’s Lake County will require masks when it resumes classes on Wednesday.

Indianapolis Public Schools, the state’s largest district, was among the first to announce last month that it would require masks for all staff and students, regardless of vaccination status.

The Shenandoah school district, a rural district in eastern Indiana’s Henry County, began on Monday two weeks of online-only instructions because a large number of COVID-19 infections. Another rural district in southern Indiana’s Scott County took the same action last week.

Hamilton Southeastern’s superintendent said the district had tracked 80 COVID-19 infections among students and more than 500 students had been notified as close contacts during the past two weeks.

“These changes are what we believe will keep our students learning in person in their classrooms,” Superintendent Yvonne Stokes said. “And that’s our goal.”

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1000163

Reported Deaths: 16309
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1347632106
Lake660041156
Allen57441793
Hamilton46100461
St. Joseph44109607
Elkhart35696507
Vanderburgh32087477
Tippecanoe27796257
Johnson24902443
Hendricks23738354
Porter22802362
Madison18614404
Clark18424250
Vigo17347301
Monroe15180197
LaPorte15046250
Delaware14984259
Howard14626287
Kosciusko12217147
Hancock11630175
Bartholomew11505179
Warrick11255189
Floyd11013214
Wayne10897250
Grant9964218
Morgan9404176
Boone8863116
Dubois8227130
Dearborn817093
Henry8139151
Noble7984106
Marshall7838134
Cass7499119
Lawrence7403170
Shelby7138114
Jackson694088
Gibson6533113
Harrison644491
Huntington633999
Knox6273106
DeKalb626397
Montgomery6208109
Miami589797
Putnam575377
Clinton570271
Whitley560455
Steuben554675
Wabash5279101
Jasper524475
Jefferson506996
Ripley495685
Adams476073
Daviess4616113
Scott435869
Greene422096
Wells420987
Clay420260
White415962
Decatur4133101
Fayette404286
Jennings385160
Posey375343
LaGrange353978
Washington353249
Randolph341999
Spencer337342
Fountain332558
Sullivan326752
Starke313369
Owen312070
Fulton306567
Orange291762
Jay280445
Perry264752
Franklin264042
Carroll259132
Rush258832
Vermillion255454
Parke230026
Pike227943
Tipton226659
Blackford190540
Pulaski181855
Crawford158623
Newton156048
Benton150217
Brown144547
Martin137419
Switzerland134211
Warren120516
Union106815
Ohio84112
Unassigned0538

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1499485

Reported Deaths: 23327
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1626291662
Cuyahoga1447662412
Hamilton1044761409
Montgomery731681240
Summit610421094
Lucas55643904
Butler51076707
Stark459431053
Lorain35141568
Warren32476369
Mahoning30315672
Clermont27930321
Lake26669434
Delaware23960162
Licking23547283
Trumbull22550552
Fairfield22179241
Greene22098311
Medina21763305
Clark19630349
Richland18342280
Portage17696247
Wood17244220
Allen15730269
Miami15355296
Muskingum14551174
Columbiana13756263
Wayne13585263
Tuscarawas12479298
Marion11797175
Scioto11388154
Pickaway11286141
Erie10676180
Ross10462196
Lawrence9663137
Hancock9546149
Ashtabula9479197
Belmont9133197
Geauga8829157
Jefferson8481191
Huron8229139
Union810756
Washington8031137
Sandusky7724145
Athens769572
Knox7606138
Darke7553151
Seneca7208144
Ashland6817125
Auglaize667896
Shelby6410111
Brown628582
Crawford6184130
Defiance6087102
Mercer608293
Fulton592996
Highland590099
Madison587576
Clinton576190
Logan574692
Guernsey572467
Preble5660121
Putnam5250108
Williams520184
Perry512561
Champaign505071
Jackson498770
Ottawa479086
Coshocton471582
Morrow451256
Pike430762
Fayette422160
Adams411587
Gallia411265
Hardin411076
Van Wert364078
Henry357871
Holmes3567122
Hocking352578
Wyandot317961
Carroll297059
Paulding275945
Meigs259249
Monroe212953
Noble196546
Morgan190832
Harrison178242
Vinton162624
Unassigned05
Fort Wayne
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Angola
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Huntington
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Decatur
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Van Wert
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