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As Indiana Removes Its Mask Mandate, Gary Keeps Its Residents Covered Up

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Starting next Tuesday, it will only be an advisory. And on Wednesday, Governor Eric Holcomb faced questions about the decision. CBS 2's Steven Graves reports on whether local counties will follow his advice. But one Indiana city is not moving forward.

Video Transcript

- As COVID cases rise, Indiana is still moving forward with its decision to do away with its mask mandate.

- Starting next Tuesday it will only be an advisory. And today governor Eric Holcomb faced questions about the decision. CBS 2's Steven Graves is asking if local counties will follow his advice. He is live in the street-side studio with word from one city, Steven, that's not going to drop the mask mandate.

STEVEN GRAVES: Erica, that's right. Come April, Gary, Indiana says masks are still a mandate. It's in part because of its proximity to Chicago, even if the Governor has given the green light. Indiana, like many other states around the country, is dealing with a slight COVID-19 case increase. Hospitalizations are also creeping up and COVID variants are popping up. Today, this warning from the state's Department of Health.

- We cannot throw caution to the wind and behave as if the pandemic is over. We want the pendulum to swing back in a positive direction.

STEVEN GRAVES: But the words of wisdom come as the state is less than a week from lifting it's a mask mandate. Come April 6, it's just an advisory in places other than government buildings and schools. Governor Eric Holcomb acknowledging the increase in cases.

ERIC HOLCOMB: It's not just one number that I focus on, the positivity rate, it's many numbers.

STEVEN GRAVES: He is defending the mask decision based off of a broader focus on available hospital beds, testing and the amounts of vaccine coming in.

ERIC HOLCOMB: Yes, there are some personal responsibility if we want to continue to manage our way through this, but manage our way through this, we are doing.

STEVEN GRAVES: But cities and counties can make their own decisions regarding the rule.

ROLAND WALKER: Listen, we don't feel like it's time to lift the masks mandate.

STEVEN GRAVES: In the city of Gary, there is a worry over the infection rate growing in part due to pressure of keeping crowds from the bordering Chicago from creating more of a spike.

ROLAND WALKER: As we reopen some of our nightclubs and bars, we saw a large influx of Chicago, which obviously affected our infection rate.

STEVEN GRAVES: So Gary says that it will revisit the idea of making the masks and advisory in two weeks after looking at the numbers then. And then in Lake County with, you know, cities like Hammond and Crown Point, they haven't made a decision just yet. But obviously they have to make it soon, Erica.

- Yes they do on that. And Steven, what's the reasoning behind the state still requiring the masks in schools?

STEVEN GRAVES: Yeah. So that was an important point. They point it to the fact that within the weeks of having that in schools, it has worked so far. So they didn't want to just snatch it up. And they also pointed to the fact that kids, right now, cannot be vaccinated. Erica.

- All right. Steven Graves, thank you.