(LaPorte County, IN) - People in LaPorte County are now mandated to wear a mask to try and lower a recent uptick in coronavirus cases locally but some residents are questioning the need and whether it’s constitutional.
The LaPorte County Commissioners on July 15 approved the mandate recommended by the LaPorte County Health Department. Under the mandate, people must wear a mask over their nose and mouth while frequenting indoor areas open to the public; outdoor areas where a distance of six feet from people not from their household cannot be maintained; and private indoor or outdoor areas where proper social distancing at all times is not possible. Masks do not have to worn by children under two-years old to guard against the potential of suffocating and people with medical conditions who would have trouble breathing from a face covering. Others exempt from the mandate include people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a mask and individuals whose health would be endangered from wearing a mask in a high-temperature manufacturing or work environment, according to the mandate.
The decision was made over the objections of residents Joe Haney and Tim Stabosz who felt the mandate is unconstitutional. Haney also said some masks like ones made of cloth are not proven to be effective in preventing infection. “There is no way this can be enforced,” Haney said. Stabosz said the number of recent cases and hospitalizations in northwest Indiana County have “barely budged” and the mandate simply plays into hysteria expressed by ‘’fearmongers.” Stabosz also said most of the new cases are in young people which is supposed to happen to build immunity naturally throughout the entire population. “Our people are being appropriately cautious and prudent already. Don’t infringe upon personal freedoms and succumb to the hysteria,” he said.
Commissioner Dr. Vidya Kora, who has a medical practice in Michigan City, said there should be a national mask mandate but there isn’t because the issue, unfortunately, has become politicized. He said masks don’t offer guaranteed protection but lower the risk of transmitting the disease to others. “I really think wearing a mask is an act of kindness, compassion, respect, humility, and love for your fellow human beings. It’s really as simple as that,” Kora said.