WARSAW – Four months into a worldwide pandemic, local officials are urging people to use masks when out in public and are getting the word out with an online video by Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce.
The new marketing effort comes after Gov. Eric Holcomb’s mask mandate, announced last week, had to be de-toothed in terms of criminal penalties after criticism from a handful of sheriffs and others.
The two-minute video includes appearances from two dozen people representing parents, teachers, businesses and government leaders.
Among those in it are Dr. William Remington, the Kosciusko County Health Officer, and Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer.
In each segment, people explain why they wear masks. Some mentioned it as a way to protect family while many mentioned doing it for the community’s sake. One woman says wearing a mask now will improve the chances of schools remaining open.
The video was unveiled Wednesday at the online media briefing at Warsaw City Hall. It can be found on Facebook pages run by the chamber and the city.
In the video, Thallemer said he believes in the use of masks because science shows it helps slow the spread of the virus.
COVID-19 has killed 11 people in Kosciusko County and more than 2,700 people across the state and nearly 150,000 in the United States.
Holcomb’s mask mandate went into effect on Monday. Support for masks appears to be divided locally. An anti-mask rally in Goshen attracted about 50 people on Monday. The current InkFreeNews poll has collected more than 2,200 responses with only 51 percent saying the statewide mandate is needed.
After the video was debuted, Thallemer went on to repeat the need to wear masks while also mentioning more than once the future prospects of another stay-at-home order, which some experts have suggested might become necessary if the country is serious about getting the pandemic under control.
“Nobody wants to go back to the shutdowns and to all the restrictions,” Thallemer said. “I think the mask is probably the most effective way to keep this economy moving.”
Thallemer acknowledged resistance over the use of masks.
“It’s not easy. It’s not anything we thought we’d be doing, but we’re at the point here where numbers are going up. We don’t want to go back to the stay-at-homes and the shutdowns.”