St. Joseph County health and government officials fear that Indiana Senate Bill 5 will cause more confusion over existing mask mandates.
The law was passed after the Indiana General Assembly overrode a veto by Governor Eric Holcomb and will requires health orders more stringent than a governor’s executive order be approved by a local governing body.
“It certainly is disappointing,” said St. Joseph County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Mark Fox. “It focuses attention in the wrong place.”
St. Joseph County had a mask mandate that was set to expire on May 27th but that is now in limbo thanks to the new law.
“It’s unclear of what happens,” said Diana Hess, St. Joseph County Council’s president pro tempore. “It sounds like we’re entering into this no man’s land now.”
Fox agrees and is hoping the County Council will work with the St. Joseph County Health Department to keep the existing mandate in tact for the next two weeks.
“I think it’s important to keep the mask mandate in up until its expiration and not have some political infighting back and forth questioning the status of it,” said Fox.
Hess says she believes decisions on public health are best left to experts.
“We need to rely on our public health officials in times of an emergency and not a legislative body,” said Hess.