Monroe County will maintain its COVID-19 social gathering restrictions and mask mandates even though Gov. Eric Holcomb announced earlier this week he will end the statewide mask mandate on April 6, Mayor John Hamilton said in Bloomington’s weekly COVID-19 press conference Friday.
Hamilton said the city’s restrictions are working and need to remain in place, a theme he’s reiterated over the past several months. No city officials gave any indication to suggest the city’s restrictions will end anytime soon.
“It is not time to relax our guard,” he said. “It is not time to declare victory. It is time to stay the course and monitor very carefully what is happening, and I really appreciate our health experts and leaders doing just that.”
Holcomb’s announcement that the mask mandate would be lifted came in tandem with an announcement that all Indiana residents aged 16 and older would be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine starting March 31.
IU’s vaccination site will open on campus Monday at Assembly Hall. The Assembly Hall site is fully booked for three weeks, Kirk White, IU-Bloomington COVID Response Unit Lead said, but could expand capacity if the state allocates more doses of vaccine to the site.
Over the next few weeks, Monroe County will make Assembly Hall its primary vaccination site, slowly phasing out the use of the Monroe Convention Center, Monroe County Health Department Administrator Penny Caudill said in early March.
Caudill said Monroe County has seen a slight uptick in its cases per 100,000 people, reaching 94 per 100,000 people. Caudill said those numbers suggest the county needs to maintain its restrictions, including gathering limits and mask mandates.
“All those things that we currently have in place in Monroe County will stay in place for the time being,” she said.
IU Health South Central Region President Brian Shockney said he supports the Bloomington restrictions.
“The IU Health South Central region remains committed to standing behind the decisions of the Monroe County Health Department to keep restrictions in place to ensure we maintain the great efforts to keep prevalence and risk low,” he said.