FORT WAYNE — Parkview Health will continue to require visitors to its facilities to wear face coverings when the state’s mask mandate downgrades to a mask advisory today.

Masks won’t be required in the state any more as of today, but individual counties, municipalities and/or businesses can set their own guidelines.

Parkview has opted to keep the mask requirement in place, the health system announced Monday.

“Parkview Health will continue to require masks in all our facilities, including the COVID-19 vaccine clinic at the Parkview Mirro Center for Research and Innovation, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for healthcare providers. We appreciate everyone who continues to follow our universal masking policies for the safety of our patients, visitors and co-workers,” Parkview said in a release.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, encouraged by drops in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths in 2021 and with vaccine rollout available to all Hoosiers, opted to downgrade the mask mandate to an advisory — similar to what the state had in place before July 2020 — amid a loosening of state restrictions.

Also taking effect Wednesday, counties will no longer be bound by gathering size restrictions based on their color-coded county rating from the state, with local health departments instead setting their own policies.

Allen County, where Parkview is headquartered, opted not to keep a countywide mask mandate in place, although health officials have encouraged residents to continue wearing them.

Parkview, which is the dominant health care system serving northeast Indiana including hospitals in Noble, DeKalb and LaGrange counties, notes it will continue to encourage all Hoosiers to wear masks until a greater percentage of the population is vaccinated.

As of this week, about 18.5% of all Hoosiers are fully vaccinated for COVID-19, meaning the state still has a long way to go to reach high enough vaccinated levels to effect communal herd immunity to protect those who haven’t been immunized or can’t be vaccinated.

“Additionally, Parkview still strongly encourages the use of masks in public settings. Until more individuals are vaccinated, masks are one of the best tools we have to reduce the spread of COVID-19.”

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