The Elkhart County Health Department issues a new public health order (#01-2020) that everyone in Elkhart County will be required to wear a face mask when they cannot maintain a 6-foot social distance in indoor and outdoor public areas and all employees and visitors to businesses must wear masks under a health officer order that begins Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Dr. Lydia Mertz issued the order at Monday morning’s Elkhart County commissioners meeting. Also, the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Kristina Box, told the commissioners she does not recommend the county move to Stage 5 of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s reopening plan.

Mertz read her order to the commissioners, saying in part, “The county has been experiencing high positivity rates for the infection and current methods of infection control have not been able to bring this rate down. In fact, we have gone from a positivity rate of approximately 16% at the end of May and the first week of June to about 20% in the fourth week of June. In addition, the county is experiencing an increase in hospital census of persons infected with the coronavirus, which has caused some straining of the health care resources. That is coupled with the fact that Elkhart County is still experiencing a significant number of deaths due to this disease, with 14 just this month.” The Order reads in its opening paragraph that this step is necessary to protect public health and help curb the spread of Covid-19.

Elkhart County has had 3,003 residents test positive for COVID-19, state health department numbers show. Twenty-seven new cases were added today. There have been 42 deaths in the county attributed to the virus. The rate of those tested having positive tests was 14.07%. Dr Kristina Box shared that the state’s recent positivity rate is about 5%.

Box also shared that said mask usage was first thought to inhibit the spread of the virus by the person wearing the mask, but new data shows the masks may also protect the wearer. “At first we just thought it was ‘my mask was going to protect you and your mask was going to protect me,’ but now we are actually seeing these masks may actually protect us. Still, if you are within 10 foot for longer than 15 minutes, that is a close contact and that is something you will have to be quarantined for be because there is still the opportunity you could get sick …”