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(INDIANAPOLIS) – Masks have gone from a recommendation to a requirement in Marion County.

The mask requirement took effect Thursday morning, one week after Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced it. Not wearing a mask is a health code violation and carries a fine, but Hogsett says at least at first, the focus will be on issuing “gentle reminders,” not tickets. He’s urging residents to politely remind non-mask-wearers themselves.

If people actively or repeatedly defy the order, Hogsett says residents can file complaints with the city’s Emergency Operations Center for further investigation.

Four counties now require masks. Those counties comprise nearly a quarter of Indiana’s people, and three of those four — Marion, Elkhart and LaGrange — are among the four worst infection rates in the state.

Saint Joseph County and Purdue University also require masks. At least two other counties, Vanderburgh and Monroe, are considering it.

Governor Holcomb has declined to issue a statewide mask order, but he’s supporting counties who issue their own. He and Hogsett both say wearing a mask is one of the simplest steps you can take as an individual to protect others from the coronavirus. Holcomb says “silent spreaders” are a significant challenge in controlling the pandemic — nearly half of those infected have no symptoms, but are still carriers.

Gleaners Food Bank is distributing masks at its Marion County food pantries. Hogsett and Marion County Health Department director Virginia Caine scheduled an afternoon stop at Gleaners’ drive-thru food bank on the southwest side to hand out masks in person. You can also order one at