Republicans move to have Marion Co. mask mandate lifted Monday

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‘Let’s let the people decide how they live their lives’

INDIANAPOLIS — Fully vaccinated people in Marion County will have to wear their masks a little while longer according to Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Marion County Health Department. 

Some Republican Councilors of the city/county leadership have other ideas, they want the mask mandate dropped Monday. 

Republicans like Minority Leader of the Indianapolis City Council District 25 Brian Mowery say the mayor’s office is sending a confusing message to Hoosiers; do we trust the science or don’t we? If the CDC says masks are no longer needed for fully vaccinated individuals, why should it be any different in Indy?

“If we’re gonna follow the science, let’s follow the science,” Mowery said. “We’ve been telling people they need to wear these masks; they need to wear these masks; they need to wear these masks… that’s great. But at the end of the day if the science says you don’t need to wear them… then let’s move on.”

The CDC issued new guidance last week – saying fully vaccinated people no longer need to wear masks or practice social distancing indoors. Large cities and entire states have dropped their mask mandates, but Indianapolis, specifically Marion County has not and will do so until June 7th at the earliest. 

“June 7th would get us beyond one of the largest events, if not the largest event in the world… since the start of the pandemic. This year’s Indianapolis 500. – And frankly, June the seventh gets us past many other important events, graduations, proms and more,” Mayor Hogsett said. “We want folks to enjoy these larger, social events but we also want to ensure that we are doing it as safely as possible.”

The Indy 500 will welcome 135,000 masked individuals to gather in Marion County on May 30th.

“I don’t agree with the mayor, I especially don’t agree with his idea to extend the masks beyond the Indy 500. I mean we’re talking about the largest sport venue out there that is going to be held open air… let’s go beyond being a Republican or Democrat here… as a logical thinking person that trusts what the CDC is telling me and trust that this virus is being combatted very well with the vaccine. So, what message then are we sending to the people about the efficacy and the success rate of these vaccines. If we’re following the science, why are we still not back open?” Mowery said. “How is it that risk of the virus spread is less in the donut counties than it is in Marion County? It’s not a magic line that when you cross it all the sudden, you’re at more of a risk.”

Mayor Hogsett says the risks outweigh any reward and masking a bit longer may be in the best interest of the city. The positivity rate in Indianapolis is above 5% for comparison, in cities like Chicago and New York City, which have both dropped their mandates, the positivity rate is around 3%.

“Long story short, it gives us two and half more weeks to see where we are at that time – and therefore make a more informed and better decision about going forward,” Mayor Hogsett said. “At that time, all of us, who are fully vaccinated will no longer need to wear their masks, unless a business or a venue asks that you do so.”

But Republicans aren’t convinced. 

“I have a very strong hesitation to agreeing to going two and a half weeks and then we’ll lift the mask mandate… because who knows what they’re going to come up with by then,” Mowery said. “I want to make it very evidently clear, that over a year ago we heard, ‘two weeks to curb the spread’ now we’re over a year into this and it’s still ’two weeks to curb the spread’.”

So, they plan to take matters into their own hands by appealing to Council President Top Osili to hold a special meeting Monday, May 24th at 7 p.m. to drop the mask mandate. 

Osili sent CBS4 a statement which reads, in part; “The council will await further guidance from our local health officials regarding changes to existing orders and will take action if and when it is appropriate.”

If nothing changes, the city council will vote to amend restrictions for the mask mandate and capacity restrictions at their scheduled June 7th meeting because of a recently passed law all health department recommendations must be approved by local authorities. 

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