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'We Don't Feel Like It's Time': As Indiana Removes Its Mask Mandate, Gary Keeps Its Residents Covered Up

CHICAGO (CBS) -- As COVID cases rise, Indiana is still moving forward with the decision to do away with its mask mandate.

Starting next Tuesday, it will only be an advisory. And on Wednesday, Governor Eric Holcomb faced questions about the decision. CBS 2's Steven Graves reports on whether local counties will follow his advice.

One Indiana city said it is not moving forward and will keep the mask mandate for its residents.

Gary, Indiana said come April, the mask rule is still a mandate. One big reason is over fear of its proximity to Chicago, even as that state's governor gives the green light.

Indiana, like many another states around the country, is dealing with a slight uptick in COVID-19 cases. Hospitalizations are also creeping up and COVID variants are popping up.

On Wednesday came a warning from Indiana's Department of Health.

"We cannot throw caution to the wind and behave as if the pandemic is over. We want the pendulum to swing back in a positive direction," said Indiana Health Department Commissioner Doctor Kristina Box.

But the words of wisdom come as the state is less than a week from lifting its mask mandate. Come April 6, it's just an advisory in places other than government buildings and schools.

Governor Eric Holcomb acknowledged the increase in cases.

"It's not just one number I focus on - the positivity rate. It's many numbers," Holcomb said.

But he is defending the mask decision based off of a focus on available hospital beds, testing and the amount of vaccine coming in.

"Yes, there's some personal responsibility if we want to continue to manage our way through this," Holcomb said. "But manage our way through this we are doing."

Cities and counties can make their own decisions on the rule.

"In Gary, we don't feel like it's time to lift the mask mandate."

The city of Gary's health department said its increase in COVID cases is concerning. There's worry, in part over that number growing. And the pressure to keep a crowd from bordering Chicago from creating more of a spike.

"As we reopened some of our nightclubs and bars, we saw a large influx of people from Chicago which obviously affected our infection rate," said  Doctor Roland Walker of the Gary Health Department. "So it has been taken into consideration."

So, places like Gary will revisit the idea in a few weeks. Lake County as a whole has not made a concrete stance on the decision just yet.

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