An uptick in COVID-19 cases spurs renewal of indoor mask mandate in Monroe County

BLOOMINGTON – The Monroe County Health Officer, Dr. Thomas Sharp, and the Health Board issued a health order and regulation that requires all people in Monroe County, vaccinated or not, to wear a face-covering while indoors in a public space, with some exceptions.

The Monroe County Commissioners approved the regulation during their meeting Wednesday. The mandate went into effect today at 8 a.m.

All businesses and places that are open to the public must post visible and accurate signage at their front entrance indicating that face coverings are required.

According to Dr. Sharp the steady increase of COVID-19 cases and the growing spread of the Delta variant within the region, along with the new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for fully vaccinated people, was the impetus for the health order and regulation.

“We are very concerned about our increased case numbers, which has raised Monroe County from blue to the yellow advisory level on the Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) County Metric Map,” says Sharp. “New data from the CDC also shows that the Delta variant is very contagious and is causing most of the new infections in the United States.”

The CDC now recommends that all people wear face coverings when indoors in a public space, vaccinated or not, in areas of substantial or high coronavirus spread, or when at increased risk for serious disease. They reported a recent outbreak showed that fully vaccinated people if infected, can carry a similar level of virus and spread the infection similarly to those who are unvaccinated.

The CDC is also recommending the universal use of face coverings in schools for students, teachers, staff, and visitors, along with other layers of prevention.

According to the Indiana Department of Health, those infected with the Delta variant can carry up to 1000 times more virus in their nasal passages than other strains, greatly increasing its transmissibility.

For example, the CDC says the original strain was about as transmissible as the common cold, with an infected person
spreading the disease to an average of two people. The Delta variant is considered as contagious as chickenpox, with infected people able to spread the virus to roughly eight or nine people.

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