Gov. Eric Holcomb lifted the statewide mask order, last week. But experts say the municipalities and counties that have maintained some kind of mask order are helping keep cases and hospitalizations down.
Peter Federman is an assistant professor at IUPUI’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. He said, because of the counties that have extended mask orders, there is still some benefit for the state.
"A big chunk of the population in the state lives in Marion County. And so, if Marion County is all wearing masks – or at least is wearing masks at a much higher rate than the rest of the state – then you’re looking a big percentage of Hoosiers wearing masks," he said.
Marion, Monroe and St. Joseph counties have all expanded mask orders. But other populous counties – like Allen, Vanderburgh and Vigo counties have not.
Federman said, even municipalities within those counties are helping make a difference. For example, Gary is maintaining a mask mandate, despite Lake County’s repeal.
"Particularly now, as we are ramping up vaccinations and sort of trying to stay, you know–every single thing we do to keep cases down as vaccinations rise is really important," he said.
But how Hoosiers navigate this patchwork of mask orders could be a trial run of future tensions between businesses and consumers.
For example: Tippecanoe County repealed its mask order. The city of Lafayette followed suit. But West Lafayette and Purdue University still require masks.
Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on COVID-19 and other statewide issues.
Federman said as we get closer to a pre-pandemic normal, he expects entertainment and cultural venues may require masks or proof of vaccinations.
"That’s where I think you’re going to sense, even a little more tension around that difference between a governmental order and then a private organization, that is of course well within their rights, to require these things," Federman said. "But you can see where those tensions may emerge."
More than a dozen counties and municipalities have maintained some version of a mask order.