ANDERSON — After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines for masks Tuesday, state and local officials said they were unlikely to reinstate mask mandates.
The CDC is recommending that people fully vaccinated for COVID-19 and children return to wearing masks while indoors if they are living in “an area of substantial or high transmission.”
Areas of high transmission, according to the CDC, include most of the American Southeast and significant portions of Western states.
Indiana has a mixture of high and moderate risk areas.
Gov. Eric Holcomb said the state would not revive a mask mandate, and Stephenie Mellinger, administrator of the Madison County Health Department, said local COVID-19 statistics don’t indicate the need for masks.
Madison County has had 55 breakthrough cases (vaccinated people becoming infected) and 11 delta variant cases, according to Mellinger.
“It is increasing among the unvaccinated more so than the vaccinated,” she said. “It’s not to the point where I think we fit the CDC red dense population and fit that recommendation of wearing masks indoors.”
In a press release Tuesday, Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana made it clear that he would oppose efforts to return to government-mandated masking.
“There was no data to show that it worked with the oppressive, heavy-handed government approach to begin with,” Braun wrote. “Be respectful of the disease, but exercise individual responsibility. That’s the key.
“No more mandates, masking and things that didn’t work from the get-go unless it makes common sense to do so.”
Mellinger said masks prevent infection but that a variety of precautions should be used in tandem.
“It (mask use) has to go hand-in-hand with distancing, hand washing, isolation and quarantine, staying home if you’re sick, disinfection of surfaces, ventilation, vaccination,” she explained.
Mellinger said that vaccinations are not 100% effective in preventing transmission of COVID-19 but that vaccinated individuals have fewer symptoms, are less likely to be hospitalized and are less likely to transmit the virus to others.
“If you have not been vaccinated, please consider it,” she said. “Get your information from a credible source.”