INDIANAPOLIS — The decision to end Indiana’s mask mandate April 6 is not sitting well with a 32-year old COVID-19 widow.
Brianna Berry lost her husband one year ago, on April 6, 2020, and she’s struggling.
"The tears just come,” Berry said. “I'll be crying on my way to work and then I'll have to pull it together because what other choice do I have?"
Her husband Lew was among the first people, especially among young people, to die in Central Indiana from COVID-19 complications.
The former Hamilton Southeastern football lineman died at the age of 37.
"I still miss him every day," Berry said.
Berry said the pain of the one-year anniversary of her husband’s death is even worse because it’s also the same day Governor Eric Holcomb designated to lift Indiana’s mask mandate, and instead make it a mask advisory.
"Why choose that with the numbers rising?" Berry said. “It's crazy that a year later I'm sitting here having to say wear a mask, don't do big groups, and now the mask mandate is going away on his death-aversary. It feels like a personal attack."
In his executive order, the Governor touts Indiana’s vaccine program as “one of the best in the nation,” and emphasized more than 1.1 million Hoosiers have been vaccinated, and they’re now available to ages 16 and up.
At his March 31 news conference, Holcomb also pointed out Indiana has the hospital capacity to care for the sick.
"I'm paying attention to the numbers in Indiana and what is in the best interest for Hoosiers,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb also rejected calls from Kentucky’s governor to rethink his decision to end Indiana’s mask mandate.
"I'm not looking to change my mind,” Holcomb said.
Masks will still be recommended when gathering in public, but they will not be required. Local governments and business owners will make their own decisions regarding mask requirements.
"The idea of wearing a mask has been so politicized from the beginning, and it shouldn't have been,” Berry said.
Berry pointed out it can take weeks to get in for a vaccine appointment, and even longer for it to be effective.
Since WRTV spoke with Berry a year ago, she has received a lot of unexpected messages.
"They would say COVID isn't real,” Berry said. “They would tell me that he deserved it because he was overweight and has asthma.”
She wants you to know the disease is real, and mask mandate or not, she hopes you take steps to protect yourself and others.
"It can't happen to you until it does,” said Berry. "Just wear a mask and get the vaccine."
Berry said she sent a letter to the Governor last year but never got a response.
WRTV reached out to the Governor’s office about Berry’s story and his decision to end the mask mandate.
“Our current cases, positivity rate, hospitalizations and deaths have all dropped drastically since mid-January, and three vaccines have been approved and put to use,” Holcomb said in his address. “Our hospital census reached nearly 3,500 COVID patients in early December, but today stands at 600 people. Daily COVID admissions have averaged about 60 people for the past two weeks.”