Health care workers in Goshen, Indiana, mask up using supplies donated by the community in this file photo. GOSHEN — A mask mandate was scheduled to go into effect Tuesday in Elkhart County, requiring face coverings in public in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
County Health Officer Dr. Lydia Mertz announced the measure Monday, which follows a vote by the Board of Health last week. She said she signed the public health order because current methods haven’t been able to curb the rise of positive cases in recent weeks, putting further strain on area hospitals and causing 14 deaths this month alone.
“The county has been experiencing high positivity rates of infection, and current methods of infection control have not been able to bring this rate down,” she said during the Elkhart County Board of Commissioners meeting. “In fact, we have gone from a positivity rate of approximately 15 percent at the end of May and the first week of June, to about 20 percent in the fourth week of June.”
She also noted that, according to a recent Indiana University public health study, about 45 percent of people who tested positive for coronavirus weren’t even aware of it because they weren’t showing any symptoms yet. That means they could unknowingly infect someone else with the virus, which can be spread through respiratory droplets.
“Multiple studies elsewhere have shown adding face masks to other infection control measures adds a significant level of infection protection for populations,” Mertz said. “Without a substantial addition to our current methods of infection control, Elkhart County will experience continued worsening of the rate of infection, […]