Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s proposal that will again require face coverings in public indoor areas was approved by the County Council on Thursday, Aug. 5. The Council unanimously approved the regulation in its role acting as the County Board of Health. The mandate will go into effect on Saturday, Aug. 7.
The regulation also addresses a process in which all County employees must report whether they have been vaccinated.
The language of the regulation stated that the mask mandate for indoor public areas would be reinstated if and when the County reaches “substantial” COVID-19 transmission. The County has reached that status. The order is consistent with guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.
The regulation requires residents to wear face coverings in indoor areas open to the public “if the County becomes an area of substantial transmission of COVID-19.” The regulation defines an area of substantial transmission as reaching 50 to 99.99 total new cases per 100,000 persons in a seven-day period or with 8 to 9.99 percent test positivity in a seven-day period.
Recent CDC statistics show that the Montgomery County transmission rate averaged 57.6 per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period. The test positivity rate averaged 2.6 percent.
The CDC classifies transmission values as low, moderate, substantial or high, Guidance for Implementing COVID-19 Prevention Strategies in the Context of Varying Community Transmission Levels and Vaccination Coverage | MMWR (cdc.gov).
CDC statistics through Wednesday, Aug. 4, show that more than 822,900 County residents age 12 and older (92.3 percent) have received at least one shot of COVID-19 vaccine and more than 748,571 (84 percent) are fully vaccinated. Those statistics also showed that 99.3 percent of County residents 65 and older have received at least one dose and 93.6 percent of those residents are fully vaccinated.
CDC data regarding Maryland vaccination status can be viewed at https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#county-view.
Also on Aug. 5, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan said he would not, at this time, issue new State regulations that would require mask-wearing mandates. Governor Hogan did say that as of Sept. 1, he would install vaccine regulations for employees in 48 State departments and agencies who have interactions with the public. The regulation will include health care facilities of the Maryland Department of Health, facilities of Department of Juvenile Services, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The Governor said State employees at those facilities must be vaccinated with at least a first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 1 or they would be required to wear masks indoors and be tested regularly.
The Governor reported that 77.9 percent of all adults in the State have been vaccinated and 93 percent of all seniors in the State have been vaccinated.