La PORTE — La Porte County residents have been ordered to continue wearing face masks in public places for at least another month.
Following the governor’s extension of the state’s public health emergency on Thursday, the La Porte County Health Department on Friday extended the county’s COVID-19 restrictions, including a mask mandate, through May 31, when it will be reviewed again.
La Porte County Health Officer Dr. Sandra Deausy announced she is extending the mask mandate through May because cases of COVID-19 continue “having a direct impact on the health and safety” of county residents.
The third amended health order noted the county has a 10.16 percent positivity rate and has been downgraded to orange on the state’s map of coronavirus spread threat risk.
Deausy said she made the decision after consulting with elected officials, including the La Porte County Board of Commissioners and the mayors of Michigan City and La Porte.
Masks will continue to be required in all indoor areas accessible to the public, and in outdoor spaces where 6 feet of distancing from people outside your household is not possible.
Social gatherings and events will be limited to 25 percent of a facility’s capacity or 50 people (including staff). No larger gatherings can be held without the approval of the health department.
That includes bars and restaurants, where tables must be spaced at least 6 feet apart; gyms and fitness studios, where equipment must be spaced 6 feet apart; and libraries, funeral homes and swimming pools.
All businesses must maintain social distancing and sanitation requirements; and all employees and visitors must wear masks.
The order is “necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout La Porte County and protect public health,” Deausy said.
After new cases of COVID-19 had dropped for several weeks following a surge in December, the numbers have been climbing again statewide and especially in the northern area of the state.
The Indiana State Department of Health’s weekly tracking map showed four of the five Indiana counties that border Michigan with orange risk – the second highest. Two other nearby counties also have orange ratings, while 10 more northern Indiana counties have the next-highest yellow rating.
While Holcomb has ended the statewide mask mandate, he has continued to urge residents to wear masks and practiced social distancing, especially in counties with higher risk threat.
On Thursday, he issued the 14th renewal of the state health emergency order, and extended the the right of local health department to impose county-based measures based on local spread of the virus.
The ISDH on Friday reported 1,494 additional cases of COVID-19, raising the total to 720,425. Another 8 deaths were reported, raising the pandemic toll to 12,921 confirmed and 411 probable deaths.
There were 48 new cases and 1 more death reported in La Porte County, raising the local totals to 11,538 infected and 208 dead, according to ISDH.
As of Friday, a total of 4,229,104 doses of vaccine have been administered in Indiana, including 2,344,638 first doses and 1,884,466 individuals who are fully vaccinated.
The mass vaccination site at the former Roosevelt High School in Gary is offering both the Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer vaccines. The clinic, which runs through June 2, is offering vaccinations from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at 2401 Harrison St.
FEMA mobile units will offer the Pfizer vaccine until 6 p.m. Saturday, May 1, at Pentecostal Temple Church of God and Christ at 2622 Wabash St. in Michigan City.
And another mobile clinic is planned next week in the parking lot of Rural King at 1340 State Road 2 in La Porte. First and second doses will be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Hoosiers interested in receiving a vaccine can obtain them without an appointment at participating clinics. To find sites or to register, visit ourshot.in.gov.