Allen County health commissioner ‘urging’ residents and students to wear masks indoors

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — The Allen County Health Commissioner has issued a “Public Health Advisory,” urging residents to wear masks indoors and get vaccinated. He’s also pushing for students to mask up in schools and asking school boards to adopt mask policies.

Below is the full advisory from Dr. Matthew Sutter:

We continue to be in the midst of a global pandemic of COVID-19 that has taken more than 600,000 American lives. The vaccination rate for Indiana and Allen County lags behind the national average despite safe and effective vaccines being readily available. There is currently an alarming increase in COVID-19 cases in Allen County and Indiana, which is coupled with a rapid increase in hospitalizations. The delta variant has been the cause of most of our new COVID-19 cases and appears to spread more easily.

Because of our current situation, I’m urging Allen County residents to take the following actions:

  1. Get vaccinated. All three vaccines are safe, effective and remain the most important tool in reducing your personal risk of severe disease and protecting the hospitals and healthcare workers.
  2. Wear a mask indoors. Allen County remains an area of HIGH COVID-19 spread and CDC recommends universal masking in areas of HIGH or SUBSTANTIAL spread, regardless of vaccination status. The current level of spread can be visualized here: https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view
  3. Mask in K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status. While children are at lower risk for hospitalization and death, this is not a benign illness in children. Children under 12 are not eligible for any of the vaccines. Children who are infected can easily spread the disease in their households and are an important driver of overall community spread. Vaccinations and masks are our best tools for keeping schools open this fall. We strongly recommend school boards adopt universal masking in Allen County K-12 schools.

It’s critically important we not overwhelm our healthcare systems or our healthcare workers.  Our systems are rapidly filling up with very ill COVID-19 patients. Our healthcare workers are exhausted and not yet recovered from the last surge in the fall and winter. We have an obligation to our community, and I urge all Allen County residents to take the actions listed above.

Allen County’s COVID cases dropped in late winter and bottomed out in mid-June, but have dramatically spiked since mid-July. The county health department reported 101 new COVID cases on Monday after reporting 246 new cases on Saturday and 204 on Sunday, respectively.

In late March, Sutter opted not to install a mask mandate, following Gov. Eric Holcomb’s decision to lift statewide COVID restrictions.

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