Local leaders discuss rationale behind mandatory masks

Dr. Adler is asking people not to travel to states experiencing a COVID-19 crisis. And local leaders explained their rationale behind mandatory masks.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 5:21 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2020 6:14 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) - While new coronavirus cases remain steady here in Tippecanoe County, health leaders have concerns for other areas of the country.

Tippecanoe County Health Officer, Dr. Jeremy Adler, said following COVID-19 precautions is more important now than ever. He called what is happening in other parts of the country a "COVID-19 crisis."

He said people need to be wearing face coverings, washing hands, avoiding crowds and social distancing at 6 feet. He added businesses should be creating policies to require employees and customers to wear masks. However, he said business are not required to tell customers if they have had an employee has tested positive.

Dr. Adler is strongly recommending people postpone any trips they have to states facing a coronavirus crisis, that includes places like Florida, Texas and Arizona.

"It's very important for all of us to take the appropriate actions now so that we can keep this curve moving in the right direction, downwards and not going back upwards," he said.

Tippecanoe County currently has 10 deaths and has had 802 reported cases. Dr. James Bien from IU Health Arnett said they have five people confirmed with COVID-19 and 27 are under investigation. Dr. Daniel Wickert from Franciscan Health said they have five people diagnosed, 15 under investigation and one person on a ventilator.

Both city mayors and Tippecanoe County Commissioner Tracy Brown addressed mandatory masks in their respective jurisdictions. This comes after West Lafayette Mayor John Dennis mandated face masks on Monday. It requires people to wear masks in all public businesses and on public transportation.

Commissioner Brown and Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski both emphasized that they support wearing masks. However, there are some issues they have with mandating masks.

"For me personally, it is an issue of enforcement," said Commissioner Brown. "Who do we have enforce that effort? Is that going to fall on the shoulders of law enforcement? Or our health department, which are already taxed beyond belief with just their normal day to day calls?"

"I would much prefer that citizens, if at all possible, until it's not possible, be allowed to make their own decisions and I would like businesses to make their own decisions," said Mayor Roswarski. "I typically think when things are driven by the citizens and private business making those decisions, as opposed to being driven by government, we get long term better outcomes and long term better solutions."

Mayor Dennis said people in West Lafayette were asking him for a mask mandate. And with thousands of Purdue students coming back in a few weeks, he wants consistency between the university and the city.

"One thing no one wants to see, is us going back to a locked down community where businesses are shut and our economy tanks. We could not survive another shutdown," said Mayor Dennis. "So I feel by making this small request, actually a small mandate, of asking that my community wears masks, is a very small sacrifice to make for the greater good of not just West Lafayette, but this community."

Dr. Esteban Ramirez joined the panel on Wednesday representing Purdue and the Protect Purdue Plan. He voiced support for West Lafayette's mandate. He said they have already started testing the students who have returned to Purdue early. He said they have had some positive cases, but couldn't disclose the exact number. He said those students are in isolation. As we've previously reported, Purdue is planning to test all students who are returning to the West Lafayette campus. The university is also requiring masks to be worn in all campus buildings and when social distancing isn't possible.

All three emphasized that they all still have a very close collaborative working relationship, and that they will continue to work towards doing what's best for Greater Lafayette.

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Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 598313

Reported Deaths: 9529
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion826311317
Lake44778676
Allen32331543
Hamilton28818314
St. Joseph27014378
Elkhart24244343
Vanderburgh19012243
Tippecanoe17701128
Johnson14748289
Porter14574166
Hendricks14074244
Madison10768217
Vigo10584177
Clark10428136
Monroe9222109
Delaware8982134
LaPorte8925159
Howard8061141
Kosciusko796782
Warrick657997
Hancock653599
Bartholomew634097
Floyd6270108
Wayne6037159
Grant5893112
Dubois549477
Boone542267
Morgan526294
Henry500764
Marshall497784
Cass477062
Dearborn467645
Noble466157
Jackson419146
Shelby408180
Lawrence385777
Clinton368240
Gibson362659
DeKalb341364
Montgomery338953
Harrison335343
Knox331339
Miami315744
Steuben309844
Whitley299825
Adams297835
Wabash297747
Ripley294945
Putnam290347
Huntington287559
Jasper286234
White269839
Daviess264773
Jefferson255838
Decatur244382
Fayette243948
Greene237062
Posey235227
Wells232247
LaGrange226061
Clay219932
Scott219538
Randolph210445
Jennings195335
Sullivan190033
Spencer185819
Fountain180827
Washington180222
Starke173943
Jay164822
Owen161737
Fulton161430
Carroll154515
Orange153433
Rush152318
Perry149727
Vermillion146733
Franklin145533
Parke12988
Tipton129532
Pike114626
Blackford109522
Pulaski95637
Newton89921
Brown86533
Benton85410
Crawford7769
Martin71013
Warren6637
Switzerland6325
Union6166
Ohio4747
Unassigned0375

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