MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — With the CDC confirming the first case of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 in the U.S., across the country in California, local health officials are keeping an eye on what it could mean for the DMV and its impact on public health measures.
As Washington, D.C. lifts its indoor mask requirement and Prince George’s County extends its mask order, Montgomery County could soon lift its mask mandate. Leaders say it could depend on what we learn about the Omicron variant in the coming days and weeks.
“We’re paying a lot of attention to its transmissibility, its immunoevasin characteristics and its virulence: how sick it makes people,” said Dr. Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer and former head of the Office of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
Several weeks ago, Montgomery County set a benchmark, 85 percent of its total population fully vaccinated, as a threshold to lift its mask mandate. Even with the county nearing 80 percent full vaccination, it still might not happen if things change.
“If it turns out this is a variant that goes across vaccine barriers, or more people get sick, more cases in the community, an 85 percent mark of how many people are vaccinated is irrelevant,” said Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich during a press briefing Wednesday.
At this point, the county has not yet changed its plans and says it could hit that 85 percent benchmark by January.