Leaders in St. Joseph County have moved a proposal forward to extend a county-wide mask mandate.
The County Council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to extend a local mask order to May 27th, after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s statewide mandate expired earlier this month. The council has already extended a local health order on coronavirus.
“I believe that holding this for another five weeks and five days, might save at least one life,” said council member Richard Pfeil. “If it were to save at least one life, then I am willing to do the inconvenience of a mask for that period of time.”
Pfeil was adamant that he is fully supportive of extending the mandate to May 27th, however, he was just as adamant that the mask mandate on the county level must be lifted once that expiration date arrives.
“We have a pretty short period to get to the finish line, and we are not going to extend this past the finish line,” said Pfeil. “Under those circumstances, I think this is something we need to do. I will in no way support an additional add to the date stated.”
Under the mask mandate, the county’s health department has the ability to fine businesses anywhere from $50 to $250 if their workers are caught not wearing masks while on the job, or if patrons are seen inside without masks unless they are eating or drinking.
It still needs approval from county commissioners before it can be enacted.
Health experts in the county say May 27th is a solid date to shoot for in ending the mandate in order to allow more time for Hoosiers 16 and up to get fully vaccinated for COVID.
The number of positive COVID tests in St. Joseph County has slightly increased over the last week to its highest level since Jan. 28.