State health leader defends maskless wedding photo

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s health commissioner defended herself Monday against criticism arising from a photograph circulating on social media showing her not wearing a face mask during a wedding reception.

Dr. Kristina Box said in a statement that she “made an informed decision” to take off her mask while dancing or talking at a recent family wedding with guests fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Box said all but five people at the wedding were fully vaccinated.

Several social media comments called Box’s actions hypocritical as on Friday she said Indiana had reached “the darkest time in the pandemic” amid a surge in infections and hospitalizations and urged more people to get vaccination shots and wear masks.

The photo shows Box standing amid several people, none of whom are wearing masks.

Box said her statement that federal guidelines call for people to wear masks at indoors public places when in areas of “high or sustained transmission.”

“I continue to wear my mask in these settings and encourage Hoosiers to do the same,” Box said.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb apologized in May 2020 after posing for a photo with two people in which none of the three wore masks inside a Brown County restaurant, a day after recommending mask wearing.

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