Washington County Sheriff Brent Miller released a statement earlier this afternoon reminding residents that the Governer’s mask mandate will go into effect on Monday, July 27.
According to Gov. Holcom’s office, the order will be in effect until at least August 26.
Miller said officers will not be enforcing the mandate and no officers will be dispatched for the sole purpose of an individual failing to wear a mask in public.
“It is a stance of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department that the refusal of the individual to wear a mask does not constitute a crime enforceable by the Sheriff’s Department,” said Miller, who noted the department has received voluminous calls about this topic in the past 48 hours.
Miller said if anyone wants to report a violation of the mask mandate, they need to call the Indiana State Health Department at 877-826-0011 between 8a and 5p daily.
“Whether or not you support the mask mandate is not a factor in our enforcement of the law,” Miller wrote in the statement. “However, certain laws may apply in the situation.”
Miller said in the State of Indiana, any business or private organization may ask a person to leave the premises at any time, for any reason.
“I would encourage you to keep in mind that if you are asked to leave a business, you are bound by law to do so under the Criminal Trespass statute of the State of Indiana,” Miller added. “Deputies will enforce the Criminal Trespass statute and will respond to complaints of Criminal Trespass and deal with issues that arise from this situation.”
Miller said he would remind all residents to be respectful in their interactions and treat each other with respect and to respect the laws of the State of Indiana.
“Doing so will avert any such incidents,” said Miller. “Please work together so that we may get through this as trouble-free as possible. Thank you for your cooperation and God Bless everyone.”
Holcomb’s office said state and local health departments will be responsible for enforcing compliance through education about the importance of wearing face coverings.
The executive order does not include criminal penalties although he said during a press conference on Wednesday that not wearing a mask would result in a Class B Misdemeanor.
The executive order also outlines the requirements for mask-wearing in schools.
Gov. Holcomb has used data to drive decisions since the state’s first case of the novel coronavirus in early March. At this time, the state faces:
- An increase in overall hospitalizations from approximately 600 a day near the end of June to approximately 800 now
- The highest number of cases in a single day with 1,011 Hoosiers reported positive today
- A rise in COVID-19 positivity across the state from a low of 3.6% a month ago to nearly double that percentage now
- Some counties, which early on had minimal positive cases in some instances, now reporting regular double-digit positive cases