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Monroe County Officials Expect To Bring Back Mask Policy Next Week

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(Ethan Gill/Indiana University)

Monroe County officials may reinstitute the local mask mandate next week when the Board of Commissioners convene Wednesday morning. 

Health administrator Penny Caudill said a local surge in COVID cases and the fact that only 56.7 percent of the eligible population is fully vaccinated is leading the decision.  

READ MORE: Holcomb Defends Not Reimposing Any COVID-19 Restrictions Amid Surge

"The virus is spreading among all ages and we have a large number of the community still susceptible because they are unvaccinated," said Caudill. 

The change in policy would mean required masks inside all public establishments, which includes while entering and exiting bars and restaurants. 

"When we [county] removed the health regulations earlier this summer, vaccinations were rising and cases were dropping, and we fully expected that to continue. Unfortunately, it has not," said Caudill.  

The county's seven-day positivity rate is currently at 6.7 percent with 58 cases per 100,000 people. Caudill said anything above 51 cases is considered a substantial risk for community spreading. 

The MCCSC Board of Trustees updated its COVID-19 guidelines earlier this week that will closely follow recent recommendations from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. 

READ MORE: MCCSC Updates COVID Protocols For Fall, Masks Still Required For Students

Indiana University students are set begin the fall semester on Aug. 23. Face coverings will not be required for all fully vaccinated students, staff and faculty per IU's mask policy.

"The policy at the moment has not been adjusted," said university spokesperson Chuck Carney. "We’ll continue to review with the county as the situation evolves."

READ MORE: IU's Dr. Aaron Carroll Says Campus Will Be Safer Than Most Communities

For the rest of the local community, rising COVID figures dictate the return of the mask mandate. Caudill said it will probably take several weeks of everyone following the rules for it to be lifted.

"This pandemic is not over and we must work together to overcome it," said Caudill.

The Board of Commissioners will decide on the mask mandate during its regular Wednesday meeting at 10 a.m.

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