INDIANAPOLIS — Several medical leaders on the frontlines have openly criticized elected officials and Marion County health leaders for a lack of restrictions throughout the College Football Championship weekend.
In an effort to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the Marion County Public Health Department and College Football Playoff Host Committee together hosted a free walk-in testing and vaccine clinic near Monument Circle on Monday.
Fans in Downtown Indy WRTV spoke with said they feel safe COVID-19-wise in the city. Several pointed out they wear masks indoors, while others mentioned they had the virus before.
Although none of the fans WRTV spoke with visited the site for testing or a vaccine, one family said just having it nearby to the festivities sends a message.
“They care about our safety and our health and we really appreciate that and all that Indy is doing to welcome us here,” Georgia fan Annemarie Willis said.
“I mean safety is always number one and I think if that’s what you want to do and you want to make sure people feel comfortable and need to get tested, yeah that’s what you should do," Alabama fan Robert Pate said.
Locals, including Susan Bullington, came out for testing.
“I think it’s a great opportunity because we were looking for tests and couldn’t find anything, so the fact this this just became available today is huge,” Bullington said. “[I’d] love to see more of these because testing is just so hard right now.”
When it comes to a mask mandate, Marion County Public Health Director Dr. Virginia Caine said her team looked at the positivity rate, hospital capacity and vaccine numbers when making the decision.
“We looked at the composite of all those numbers at the time, we felt because people have been educated, they know what they need to do in order to protect themselves. We felt that just by encouraging them to do the right thing to protect themselves, that that would be fine,” Dr. Caine said.
WRTV also asked Mayor Joe Hogsett the same question Monday morning as to the decision behind no mask mandate. In part he answered, “We are juggling between the safety of the people which is paramount, is absolute paramount, the safety of all involved with an important and a concerted effort to invest in our downtown and bring our downtown back.”
Dr. Caine tells WRTV’s Nikki DeMentri the Marion County Public Health Department will “probably” open up a new testing site next week with a possible drive-thru location. Reviving downtown testing is also on the table.