Legislative Update – Gov. Holcomb Executive Order Requiring Masks

The details of Indiana’s statewide mask mandate are now available in Executive Order 20-37. On Wednesday, the Governor announced he would be issuing the order requiring masks to be worn and that failure to follow the order would be a Class B misdemeanor offense. The final Order does not mention a penalty. Existing statute does make it a misdemeanor to violate an Executive Order. The directive is effective at 12:01 a.m. this Monday, July 27th for 30 days until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, August 26th (unless extended or modified). It requires a face covering (defined near the end of Page 2) over the nose and mouth when:

  1. Inside a business, public building, or other indoor place open to the public. This does not extend, however, to private offices, private workspaces or meetings in which 6 feet of social distancing can be achieved and maintained between people not in the same household;
  2. In an outdoor public space wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of social distancing from another person not in the same household; or
  3. Using public transportation or while in a taxi, private car service, or ride-sharing vehicle;

There are exemptions that start at the bottom of Page 2.

Enforcement will be the responsibility of state and local health departments. The EO has also forced some changes that should be seen in the coming days to the guidelines at the Back On Track site.

Following the briefing, five State Senators (Jim Buck, Blake Doriot, Aaron Freeman, Mark Messmer & Jim Tomes) asked the Attorney General if this was within the Governor’s powers. Late on Wednesday, Attorney General Hill released an Advisory Opinion (does not carry a force of law) stating that the power to issue a mandate carrying a penalty rests with the Legislature and encouraging the Governor to call a Special Legislative Session to address such issues. Other attorneys, including Evansville’s Joshua Claybourn, have noted that the Legislature ceded this power to the Governor in the “Emergency Management and Disaster Law.”

Since Wednesday’s update, the state has reported 1,925 new positive cases (60,598 total) and 21 new deaths (2,6875), and 92,160 new tests administered (678,749 total with an overall 8.9% positive rate since the beginning of testing) according to the ISDH dashboard at www.coronavirus.in.gov as of midnight last night. There are an additional 197 probable Covid-19 deaths (X-Ray, CT, symptoms & exam consistent w/Covid-19, but no positive test received).

Several of the 200+ testing sites open across the state are nearby – each operator has their own requirements about whether an individual must be symptomatic or have underlying conditions and the locations move based on needs and building requirements. The state operated sites are free and open to anyone who wants it regardless of symptoms or risk; register in advance for those by calling 888-634-1123 or at https://lhi.care/covidtesting. If there are no spots available via advance registration, walk ins are available.

Resources & Reminders: