GOSHEN – The Elkhart County Health Department has issued a public health order regarding a face covering mandate. The order was filed at 12:12 p.m. Monday, June 29.
The order states the following:
“COVID-19 is having a direct impact on the health and safety of Elkhart County residents. Elkhart County is experiencing record numbers of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19. Elkhart County has recently seen an increased hospital census because of COVID-19. Elkhart County’s ICU bed availability has fallen significantly. In order to protect public health, restrictions must be
established to help curb the spread of COVID-19.
“With this understanding/ I hereby Order the following/ effective June 30, 2020, at 12:01 a.m.:
A. Face Covering Mandate
Every individual must properly wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are at:
1. an indoor area open to the public, including public transportation;
2. an outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained; or
3. a private indoor or outdoor area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained.
An adult should supervise the use of face coverings by children aged 3 to 12 to avoid misuse. A properly worn face covering is one that fully covers the individual’s mouth and nose/ fits snugly against the sides of the face with no gaps/ is secured (i.e. straps, ear loops) to prevent slipping, and allows for breathing with no restriction. All face coverings, which are not disposed of after each use, should be washed each day it is used and made completely dry before the next use.
B. Exceptions to the Face Covering Mandate
1. any child aged two years or less (a face covering may cause such a child to suffocate);
2. any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a face covering;
3. any individual who is deaf and needs to remove the face covering to use facial and mouth movements as a part of their communication;
4. any individual who has been advised by medical professional that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the face covering for health-related reasons;
5. any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated/ or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
6. any individual who is directed to remove a face covering by a law enforcement officer;
7. any employee engaged in a work related activity where a face covering would serve to present or exacerbate a hazard as recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration;
8. any individual whose religious beliefs prevents them from wearing a face covering;
9. any restaurant or bar customer while they are dining; and
10. any individual who (1) is not in an area open to the public and (2) can maintain at least 6 feet from all other individuals not residing in his or her household.
C. Business and Employer Requirements
Every business and employer in EIkhart County must take the following steps to ensure that all employees and visitors of the entity comply with this Order:
1. AU employers in Elkhart County must amend their COVID-19 continued operations plan, fast established per the mandate included in Section 4 of Executive Order 20-26 and still required by Section 5.b of Executive Order 20-32, to require all employees and visitors to wear face coverings in accordance with this order.
2. All businesses must post the English and Spanish version of the Order No. 01-2020 sign (PDF copy will be available at http://www.elkhartcoimtyhealth.org/) at each available entrance to their building.
3. All business must continue to follow the Executive Order of the Governor and any other Orders issued by state or local officials. This includes, but is not limited to, maintaining social distancing (at least six feet of separation) and sanitation requirements.
D. Intent and Use of this Order
The intent of this Order is to mandate that all people in Elkhart County, whether engaged in work activities, social activities, or everyday activities, wear a face covering, as outlined herein, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This Order is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout Elkhart County and protect public health. When applying this order, it is important to remember the following:
1. Nothing in this Order reduces or eliminates the requirements imposed by the Executive Orders of Governor Holcomb, or unposed by any directive or order from the local health officer. Governor/or other regulatory local, state, or federal agency.
2. Actions that contradict this Order do not create grounds for residents or law enforcement to stop, detain, issue a citation/ arrest, intimidate, or harass individuals that do not comply with this Order. This Order should be used to educate/ encourage, ‘and persuade individuals to wear face coverings.
3. Use of a face covering does not replace the need to take the additional necessary protective measures set forth in Section E below.
E. Additional Necessary Protective Measures
Use of a face covering as mandated by this Order does not replace the need for all Elkhart County employers/ residents/ and visitors to take additional necessary protective measures to protect against the spread of COVID-19. To keep Elkhart County working, activities open, and ourselves healthy, everyone should maintain the following basic protective measures:
1. Wash your hands frequently during the day for 20 seconds with soap and water. If this is not available, use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
2. Maintain a minimum of 6 feet of distance between yourself and individuals outside of your household.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
4. Stay home and isolate yourself from other members of your household if you are sick.
5. Avoid being around sick people.
6. Clean frequently touched surfaces often.
7. Sneeze and cough in the inside of your elbow or in a tissue.
F. Scope and Duration
This Order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on June 30, 2020. This order will remain in effect until rescinded by the Elkhart County Local Health Officer. Prior to rescinding this Order, the Health Officer intends to examine the number and percentage of positive cases in Elkhart County in comparison to the State of Indiana, the hospitalization census for EIkhart County, and the availability of ICU beds in Elkhart County. For the duration of this Order, this Order supersedes
the Guidance on Wearing Face Coverings issued by the Elkhart County Health Department on June 12, 2020. Compliance with this Order is not required to the extent necessary to comply with any federal/ state, or local laws, rules, and regulations.
It should be noted that a local health department has the power to manage communicable diseases. This power can be found at http://iga.in.gov/legislative/laws/2018/ic/titles/016/#16-20
Elkhart County Commissioner Mike Yoder posted the following frequently asked questions on his Facebook page:.
1. How does a face covering prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Answer: One of the primary ways that the COVID-19 virus spreads is by respiratory droplets that people expel when they breathe, speak, sing, cough, or sneeze. COVID-19 can be spread by individuals that do not realize they are infected. Some symptomatic individuals have such minor symptoms that they do not realize they are infected with COVID-19. People infected with the virus are also contagious 48 hours before developing symptoms, the time when they are pre-symptomatic. Additionally, some people infected with the virus may not have any symptoms, meaning they are asymptomatic, but they may still be contagious. Therefore, the Center for Disease Control, Indiana State Department of Health, and Elkhart County Health Department now believe that wearing a face covering may reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus when in public by reducing the spread of respiratory droplets.
2. If I wear a face covering when in public or private settings with people outside my household, do I still need to practice social distancing?
Answer: Yes, social distancing remains one of the most important tools to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Wearing a face covering is another important tool for reducing the spread of the virus. However, a face covering is not a substitute for physical distancing of at least 6 feet, frequent hand washing, and the use of other protective measures.
3. When does the Order take effect?
Answer: Order No. 01-2020 takes effect at 12:01 AM on June 30, 2020.
4. When does the Order end?
Answer: The Order does not have a specific end date, but will be lifted by the Health Officer when Elkhart County’s positive case data, hospitalization census, and ICU bed availability support lifting the Order.
5. Since the Order was issued by the County Health Officer, does it also apply to cities in the County?
Answer: Yes. The County Health Officer has the authority to issue orders for the county as a whole, including the unincorporated county and all cities in the county.
6. What exactly is considered a face covering?
Answer: As used in the Order, a “face covering” means a covering made of cloth, fabric, or other soft or permeable material, without holes, that covers only the nose and mouth and surrounding areas of the lower face. A covering that hides or obscures the wearer’s eyes or forehead is not a face covering.
7. What are some examples of face coverings?
Answer: Examples of face coverings include a scarf or bandana; a neck gaiter; a homemade covering made from a T-shirt, sweatshirt, or towel, held on with rubber bands, hair ties, or other materials; or a mask, which need not be medical-grade. A face covering may be factory-made, or may be handmade and created from ordinary household materials. The face covering should be comfortable, so that the wearer can breathe comfortably through the nose without need for frequent adjustment, so as to avoid touching the face.
8. Should I use a surgical or procedure mask to cover my face, like the masks I see at health care facilities?
Answer: For as long as medical grade masks such as N95 masks and surgical masks are in short supply, members of the public should not purchase those masks as face coverings under this Order. Unless necessary for medical reasons, medical grade masks should be reserved for health care providers and first responders.
9. I am required to wear an N95 face covering as a part of my job (i.e. first responder).Are you suggesting that I switch to a cloth face covering?
Answer: No, if you are required to wear a special type of face covering (i.e. N95), then you should follow the guidelines and protocols in place for that type of face covering.
10. Can I clean my face covering and reuse it?
Answer: Yes, if your face covering is made of cloth and is not a disposable mask it should be cleaned every day it is used. You should have extra face coverings available so that you have a clean and completely dry one available for use. Many face coverings can be washed at home.
11. How do I clean a cloth face covering?
Answer: A face covering can be cleaned by either of the following techniques:
• You can include your face covering with your regular laundry.
• Use regular laundry detergent and the warmest appropriate water setting for the cloth used to make the face covering.
Washing by hand
• Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
o 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) household bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
o 4 teaspoons household bleach per quart of room temperature water
• Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection. Some bleach products, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing, may not be suitable for disinfection. Ensure the bleach product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
• Soak the face covering in the bleach solution for 5 minutes.
• Rinse thoroughly with cool or room temperature water.
After cleaning a face covering, youmust ensure the face covering is completely dry before using it again.
12. I have a mask that has a valve on it. Should I use that as a face covering?
Answer: No. Any mask that has a one-way valve, which looks like a raised plastic cylinder about the size of a quarter on the front or side of the mask allows droplets from the person wearing them to escape and enter the air. Use of masks with valves does not protect others from exposure to droplets that could contain the virus.
13. How do I make a face covering?
Answer: Descriptions of how to make a face covering may be found at the website of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019- ncov/prevent-getting-sick/how-to-make-cloth-face-covering.html and a demonstration by the US Surgeon General can be found at https://youtu.be/tPx1yqvJgf4.
14. When should I discard a cloth face covering?
Answer: A cloth face covering should be discarded any time the face covering:
• no longer covers your nose and mouth appropriately;
• has stretched out and no longer fits appropriately;
• cannot stay securely on your face;
• has holes or tears in the fabric; or
• is in a worn condition that otherwise allows respiratory droplets to exit the face covering.
15. How should I put on and remove my face covering?
Answer: You should always handle the face covering by touching the strings or ear loops only. Be careful not to touch your eyes, nose, and mouth when handling a face covering. Be careful not to touch the outside or inside of the cloth face covering when putting it on, wearing it, or removing it from your face. If you touch the outside or inside of the cloth face covering, immediately wash your hands for at least 20 seconds. A face covering should never be worn damp or wet.
16. When must the general public wear a face covering?
Answer: Unless an exception set forth in the Order applies, every individual must properly wear a face covering over their nose and mouth when they are at:
1. an indoor area open to the public, including public transportation;
2. an outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained; or
3. a private indoor or outdoor area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of
their household cannot be maintained.
17. Must public transportation operators and car service drivers cover their faces?
Answer: Yes. Each driver or operator of any public transportation vehicle, paratransit vehicle, taxi, private car service or ride-sharing vehicle is required to wear a face covering while driving or operating such vehicle, regardless of whether a member of the public is in the vehicle. This is because drivers need to reduce the spread of their respiratory droplets in the vehicle at all times so the riders are not exposed to the driver’s respiratory droplets. As a reminder, a face covering should not impair the user’s visibility or line of sight as it should only cover their mouth and nose (not their eyes).
18. Must employers require employees to wear face coverings?
Answer: Yes, in some cases employers must require their employees to wear a face covering as set forth in the Governor’s Executive Orders. In other circumstances, employers must require their employees to wear a face covering as a result of the Order. Employers must require their employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers to wear a face covering at the workplace and when performing work off-site, subject to the exceptions set forth in the Order, any time the employee, contractor, owner, or volunteer is:
- Working in any space visited by members of the public, such as, by way of example and without limitation, reception areas, grocery store or pharmacy aisles, service counters, public restrooms, cashier and checkout areas, waiting rooms, service areas, and other spaces used to interact with the public, regardless of whether anyone from the public is present at the time;
- working in or walking through common areas such as hallways, stairways, elevators, and parking facilities;
- in any other indoor area open to the public, including public transportation;
- in an outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained; or
- in a private indoor or outdoor area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained.
19. Are there some employees that do not need to cover their face while working inside?
Answer: Yes, but only under certain circumstances. In Elkhart County, a face covering is not required, unless required by the Governor’s Executive Orders, when (1) a person is in a personal office (a single room); (2) others outside of that person’s household are not present, maintain at least six feet of distance, or are otherwise separated by a physical barrier (i.e. plexiglass); and (3) the public does not have open access (i.e. without an appointment) to visit the room. By way of example and without limitation, a construction worker, tradesman, manager, accountant, or office worker, who is otherwise allowed to engage in work pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Orders, is not required to wear a face covering if that individual is alone and in a space not regularly visited by the public, but that individual must put on a face covering when coworkers or clients/customers enter and cannot maintain a 6 foot distance and anywhere members of the public or other coworkers are regularly present.
20. Are there some employees that do not need to cover their face while working outside?
Answer: Yes, but only under certain circumstances. In Elkhart County, a face covering is not required, unless required by the Governor’s Executive Orders, when a person is working outside and can maintain at all times a distance of 6 feet from all individuals outside of their household.
21. What actions must employers and businesses take as a result of the order?
Answer: Employers and businesses must update their COVID-19 continued operations plan, currently required under Section 5.b of Executive Order 20-32, to require face coverings as set forth in the Order. Additionally, employers must take reasonable measures, such as posting the Order No. 01-2020 signs, to remind their customers and the public that face coverings are required while inside of or waiting in line to enter the business, facility, or location.
22. If I don’t cover my face at a business, could the business refuse to serve me?
Answer: Yes, entities and organizations may require that all customers entering the building wear a face covering. In that circumstance, the entity should take all reasonable steps to prohibit any member of the public who is not wearing a face covering, without an exception set forth in the Order, from entering and should not serve that person. For individuals that qualify for an exception under the Order, the entity may provide alternative means for shopping at the location (i.e. curb side pick-up) in lieu of allowing the individual to enter the building. If you are unable to wear a face covering for medical or behavioral reasons, designate someone else in your household to as the “errand runner.” If this is not possible and you have to go out, contact the store in advance to discuss their policy and what options they have available for you (i.e. curbside service).
23. Do infants and toddlers need to wear face coverings?
Answer: The Order states that any child aged two years or less should NOT wear a face covering because of the risk of suffocation.
24. Do children need to wear face coverings?
Answer: This Order requires that any child 3 years and older wear a face covering and that those ages 3 to 12 should have adult supervisions to avoid misuse by the child.
25. Are people who walk, run, and cycle outdoors required to wear a face covering?
Answer: It depends on whether 6 feet of distancing can be maintained. Wearing a face covering is required any time an individual is in an outdoor public area where a distance of 6 feet from individuals outside of their household cannot be maintained.
In many circumstances, an individual engaged in individual outdoor recreational activity
(i.e. running; cycling) may have limited circumstances where they are near other individuals during a long distance outing. In this circumstance the individual may simply bring a face covering and wear that face covering in circumstances where at least a 6 foot separation cannot be maintained, and thus they carry the face covering in a readily accessible location.
Running or bicycling causes people to more forcefully expel airborne particles which makes the usual minimum 6 feet distance requirement less adequate. Therefore, runners and cyclists should take extra measures to avoid exposing others to airborne particles, including wearing a face covering when possible, maintaining physical distance of greater than 6 feet when engaging in these activities, avoiding spitting, and avoiding running or cycling directly in front of or behind another runner or cyclist who is not in the same household.
26. Are there any situations where a person does not need to wear a face covering?
Answer: Yes, under certain circumstances. For example, a Face Mask is not needed when driving a personal vehicle alone or when you are in the exclusive presence of members of your household. The Order also recognizes that the following individuals do not need to wear a face covering:
- any child aged two years or less (a face covering may cause such a child to suffocate);
- any individual who has a physical disability that prevents easily wearing or removing a
- any individual who is deaf and needs to remove the face covering to use facial and mouth movements as a part of their communication;
- any individual who has been advised by medical professional that wearing a face covering may pose a risk to the person wearing the face covering for health-related reasons;
- any individual who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance;
- any individual who is directed to remove a face covering by a law enforcement officer;
- any employee engaged in a work-related activity where a face covering would serve to present or exacerbate a hazard as recognized by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration;
- any individual whose religious beliefs prevents them from wearing a face covering;
- any restaurant or bar customer while they are dining; and
- any individual who (1) is not in an area open to the public and (2) can maintain at least 6
feet from all other individuals not residing in his or her household.
27. Will local law enforcement be enforcing the Order?
Answer: No. Actions that contradict this Order do not create grounds for residents or law enforcement to stop, detain, issue a citation, arrest, intimidate, or harass individuals that do not comply with this Order. The mandate’s goal is to protect the public health by increasing the use of masks. The Order will be supported through education and public awareness. Individuals who do not feel comfortable in any setting should leave that setting. If you feel uncomfortable while conducting business, you may choose to speak with the manager to express your concerns. If you see someone without a face covering, assume they have a valid reason for not wearing one and increase your distance from that person. The most loving thing you can do for your community is to take care of yourself by wearing a face covering when out in public. We are all in this together.
28. Where do I get a copy of this Order?
Answer: You can find the Order at the Elkhart County Health Department website at
29. If I still have questions, who can I call?
Answer: You can call the Elkhart County Health Department COVID-19 Hotline at (574) 523-2106.
These FAQ’s were published on June 29 in Elkhart County, Indiana, by Dr. Lydia Mertz, Elkhart County Local Health Officer in connection with the Elkhart County Health Department Public Health Order No. 01-2020 Face Covering Mandate.