Customers, some wearing masks, exit the Menards store last week in Mishawaka. St. Joseph County has extended its mask order for another two months. Staff photo by Michael Caterina
Customers, some wearing masks, exit the Menards store last week in Mishawaka. St. Joseph County has extended its mask order for another two months. Staff photo by Michael Caterina

SOUTH BEND — St. Joseph County public health officials Monday morning extended their mask order through Sept. 7, while Elkhart County decided to implement a similar order.

Dr. Robert Einterz, St. Joseph County’s public health officer, signed the new order after consulting with representatives from the county’s three largest health systems, Beacon, Saint Joseph and South Bend Clinic.

“Given that there is no vaccine or medication available to prevent or treat COVID-19, measures such as hand hygiene, physical distancing and wearing face coverings are the most effective strategies to reduce the spread of respiratory droplets from infected persons to uninfected person,” the new order states.

The mask order was due to expire Saturday. It requires face coverings for all people inside businesses and enclosed public spaces where social distancing of at least six feet can’t be maintained. Like the first order, it exempts people who can’t wear face coverings for health reasons but goes further by specifying examples of those conditions, including people with “respiratory conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease; severe anxiety; autism; cerebral palsy; two years of age or younger.”

The order also requires businesses to have hand sanitizer available at entrances for customers.

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