BLOOMINGTON — Monroe County's mask mandate will continue to be enforced after Indiana's statewide order becomes an advisory.
Individual counties can still enforce COVID-19 precautionary measures after Tuesday when mask-wearing in public becomes a recommendation rather than a requirement throughout the state.
Penny Caudill, administrator of the Monroe County Health Department, said in an email that officials do not plan to change any current regulations.
In a letter sent Friday, officials from the Monroe County Health Department, Monroe County Board of Commissioners, City of Bloomington, Indiana University Health and Indiana University said they support continuing COVID-19 safety precautions amid rising cases.
"We are united in the belief that the pandemic is not yet over and that it is not yet time to let down our guard," the letter said. "We stand beside the Monroe County Health Officer and Health Board in maintaining the mask and social distancing mandates put in place to protect our community."
The letter noted Monroe County's weekly case rate per 100,000 people more than doubled last week from a low of 63 cases last month to 128 cases causing the county to return to the yellow advisory level on the Indiana State Department of Health's coronavirus metrics map.
"This shows our numbers are going in the wrong direction," the letter said. "We must continue the COVID-19 safety precautions currently in place: wearing masks, social distancing, diligent hand hygiene and staying home while ill. These actions, along with getting vaccinated against COVID-19, will protect our families, our neighbors and our community."
Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said March 25 that Marion County will keep its mask mandate and capacity restrictions in place until the county's public health order is lifted.
"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.
Elkhart, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties will also continue enforcing mask mandates.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has rejected calls from Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear and others to rethink ending the state's mask mandate.
"I'm not looking to change my mind,” Holcomb said last Wednesday.
More than 3 million Hoosiers have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and more than 1.2 million are fully vaccinated.
However, the state's 7-day positivity rate among all tests has increased from 3% in early March to 4.3% as of Monday's update. Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 have also gone up from a low of 548 patients on March 21 to 704 people on Monday.