Marion County health officials urging employers, schools and businesses to consider vaccine, mask mandates


MARION COUNTY, Ind. — The spread of COVID-19 is ramping up quickly in Marion County. Health officials say, for the first time since the pandemic began, the amount of new positive COVID-19 cases in children outnumber new cases in adults.

“Everyone should be wearing a mask in the school systems regardless of your vaccination status because of these breakthrough infections,” said Dr. Virginia Caine, director of the Marion County Public Health Department.

Dr. Caine said more and more schools are following that guidance every day.

“Even over a month ago, we had only like two public township schools do a mask mandate,” Dr. Caine said. “We are now at eight of the 11 public townships.”

However, Dr. Caine said those mask mandates will not be seen countywide, nor any restrictions for that matter. Despite rising cases and hospitalizations, she said she is not considering reimposing restrictions at this time.

“Right now, I’m not looking at imposing any greater restrictions with the exception of just trying to recommend to school systems to please encourage your staff and employees to get vaccinated,” said Dr. Caine. “We’re putting undue burdens on our hospital systems.”

On August 25, the state’s COVID-19 dashboard confirmed 512 new cases of COVID-19 in Marion County alone. That is a significant increase of 246 confirmed cases the day prior. The county’s 7-day positivity rate also remains above 10%.

“If you are visiting public places indoors, regardless of your vaccination status, we’re going to encourage you to wear a mask,” said Dr. Caine.

When asked what metrics county health officials are looking into when deciding if or when more restrictions are needed for the county, Dr. Caine said there is no clear-cut answer.

“This is a new variant and so it doesn’t always act like it did for the original strain. So we don’t look at just one metric that we use that we’re going to trigger [new restrictions]. We have to look at multiple metrics,” said Dr. Caine.

In a written statement from Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office, a spokesperson said:

“The Mayor’s Office remains in constant contact with the Marion County Public Health Department, and will continue an approach guided by health experts. We know that vaccines are safe, effective, and widely available, and we continue to urge Marion County residents to get theirs as soon as possible to protect themselves and their loved ones.”

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