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Prince pushes mandate requiring face masks in public

Crusader Staff Report

Gary Mayor Jerome Prince is pushing a new mandate requiring residents to wear face masks as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in the city.

In a video press conference on July 17, Prince said he had “extensive discussions” with Gary Health Commissioner Dr. Roland Walker before he gave a mandate requiring residents to wear face masks indoors in all buildings.

“As we all are aware, our struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. In the City of Gary, after watching our daily number of new positive cases remain in single digits for approximately six weeks, we have seen multiple days of double-digit increases in the last week. Since the arrival of the COVID-19 virus in Gary and Lake County in early March, I have repeatedly said I will do what is necessary to protect our community.”

The mandate went into effect Monday, July 20.

As of Tuesday, July 21, 59 people in Gary have died from the COVID-19 virus and 958 have been infected with the virus.

Prince said there have been multiple days of double-digit increases of new COVID-19 cases in the last week. He said for six weeks, the number of new COVID-19 were in the single digits.

Prince said that city officials are closely monitoring activity at Gary beaches, and if necessary, “will soon make an additional announcement about our beaches and other public facilities.”

Merrillville imposed a similar face mask mandate, which went into effect on Monday, July 20 and will run through at least August 31.

Under the mandate, Merrillville residents two years or older must wear a mask or face covering over their nose and mouth whenever they are indoors in a building other than a home. Masks are also required outdoors where social distancing of six feet is not possible.

A county-wide mask mandate also went into effect Monday, July 20 after it was approved by the Lake County Board of Health.

Under that mandate, masks should be worn over the nose. Lake County residents with a medical condition do not have to wear a mask under the county-wide mandate. Masks that prevents one from delivering goods or services are also not necessary under the county-wide mandate.

The mask must always be worn when six feet of social distancing is not possible.

For outdoor exercise, masks are not required for groups of less than 25 people. In schools, students from kindergarten through 12th grade must wear masks on school buses, at school in classrooms and in common areas and in hallways.

The county-wide mandate was issued as the COVID-19 positivity rate climbed to 12 percent on Monday, July 20. Statewide, the positivity rate in Indiana was 9.1 percent.

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