INDIANAPOLIS — Marion County's mask mandate and capacity restrictions will remain in effect until the county's public health order is lifted, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said Thursday.
On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced the statewide face covering mandate will become an advisory starting April 6. However, individual counties can still enforce COVID-19 precautionary measures of their own.
"We will continue to exercise the local authority granted to us by the state to keep Indianapolis on the right track because although the light is brighter, we are not out of the tunnel itself. Make no mistake, we have a ways to go," Hogsett said.
Marion County has required people to wear masks in public since July 9, while Indiana's order began July 27. Face coverings remain mandatory in all state buildings and facilities around Indiana, as well as in all vaccination and COVID-19 testing sites until further notice.
Hogsett noted that Indianapolis is hosting thousands of visitors from inside and outside the state during the NCAA tournament and people are returning home from spring break locations around the country.
He added that Indianapolis is moving in the right direction with its positivity rate and other metrics, but the threat of an uptick remains.
"While I believe that we can continue to handle these changing patterns safely, we can only do so with the common sense approach that attracted the NCAA tournament to Indianapolis in the first place," he said.
Variant strains remain a concern for Marion County Public Health Department Director Dr. Virginia Caine, who said positivity rates, the average number of cases per 100,000 people and the ability to achieve herd immunity through vaccinations will determine when the public health order can be rescinded.
Caine said herd immunity will be achieved when 70-80% of adults in Marion County are fully vaccinated. Currently, only about 11% of Marion County adults are inoculated against COVID-19.
"We just have to be very cautious," Caine said. "We don't want to reduce things and then we shoot way back up again to another third major surge because we just couldn't stay the course for another one or two more weeks."
Watch Hogsett and Caine's news conference below: