My editor has suggested many times that I should write a few columns ahead of deadline. But I know that my interests are too broad for me to ever feel “caught up” enough to write something that long before it is due.

This week, I have spent the past three days trying to find the time and energy to write something that is not about the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I have done the research on a topic and started to mold it into something that might make sense to someone other than me. But I keep getting distracted by aspects of COVID-19, including several of my friends testing positive and requests for reviews of planned events.

Those distractions made it clear to me that I should not veer away from the pandemic subject in this column, no matter how tired of it I might be.

The Indiana governor released Executive Order 20-48 late last week, which I spent the weekend trying to memorize because it is a significant change from the “Back on Track” stages that we had been given previously.

I still do not understand who will manage enforcement of some of the aspects of the executive order, particularly the mask mandate for businesses.

Here is what it says about “Face Covering Requirements:”

Signage: All Hoosier businesses are required to place clearly visible signage at their public and employee entrances notifying that face coverings are required for all individuals entering the business.

Employees: Businesses shall require employees to wear face coverings, as set forth in paragraph 3 e-g.*

Customers, Clients and Visitors: Businesses should only admit those customers, clients, vendors and other visitors who wear face coverings, as set forth in paragraph 3 e-g.*

* Paragraph 3 e-g explains when and where face coverings of the nose and mouth are required as well as exceptions and definitions.

It is obvious to me that our six-person county health department does not have the time to try to enforce this mandate in spite of our desire to slow down the spread of the virus. Despite what you may have heard, there is very good scientific evidence that facial covering of the nose and mouth decreases viral infections.

This is the part of the story where you, the readers, come into play.

Since every business in Indiana is required to display a sign requiring masks, if you do not see a sign, take your business elsewhere. Do not go in.

If any business cares about their customers and staff, that business will comply with the mask mandate, including signage and staff enforcement.

Please understand that I am not asking you to violate anyone’s constitutional rights, nor am I asking you to confront the business owner or manager. I am just saying that by not helping to protect you from the pandemic virus, they are tacitly saying that they do not care about your health and safety. Just do not enter and go somewhere that does comply to spend your money with those who have shown that they care.

If you decide to report a business to the county health department, that will be perfectly appropriate. It can be investigated and will have consequences.

But vote against violators of the mask mandate with your feet and your wallet. My hope is that they will get the message.

Dr. Terry Gaff is a physician in northeast Indiana. Contact him at or on Facebook. To read past columns and to post comments go to

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