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Fort Wayne Reimposes Mask Requirement In City Buildings As COVID-19 Numbers Soar

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Rebecca Green/WBOI News
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Mayor Tom Henry announced Thursday that the City of Fort Wayne will, once again, impose a mask requirement for anyone inside a city building amid skyrocketing COVID numbers in Northeast Indiana and the Hoosier State.

The move will take effect on Tuesday, September 7, following the Labor Day holiday.

Masks will be required regardless of vaccination status. Additionally, Henry unveiled a new incentive: an extra $200 to any city employee already vaccinated, or those who become fully vaccinated.

He says he’s trying to set an example locally.

“My hope is that our proactive response will encourage the private sector to look into the possibility of mandating COVID-19 vaccinations," Henry said. "Getting our citizens and our staff members vaccinated is a top priority.”

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Matthew Sutter was also on hand to provide an update on the county and region’s overall COVID-19 picture.

Despite current ICU capacity levels, Sutter says the situation isn’t in a dire place just yet, but it can become one if trends continue. He adds that the data available suggests unvaccinated individuals are leading the current surge, as breakthrough numbers have largely held steady the last few months.

Sutter says his priority is currently to make sure schools are able to stay open and operational, while citing the vaccines as critical to the county’s mitigation strategy:

“There is no silver bullet to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community," Sutter said. "The good news is, I believe, with vaccines, with masking, with social distancing, with other types of approaches, we could avoid the complete shutdowns we saw in 2020.”

For Henry, this announcement comes just two weeks after his office announced he and his wife had developed breakthrough cases of COVID-19. While the vaccine didn’t stop him from catching the virus, he says it did have a substantial, positive impact on his health.

“I was told by several of my friends in the medical profession that had my wife and I not been vaccinated, because of my age I could have very well been in the hospital," he said. "So there’s no question that vaccinations could very well keep you from being hospitalized.”

The City says it will provide COVID-19 shots alongside its annual flu shot offerings to employees over the next several months to make access to the vaccines easier.

Henry also touched on “additional measures” that could be taken between now and November 1, but didn’t have anything concrete to divulge. He did note the requirement beginning September 7 has been “vetted” for legal purposes.