MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — After a few maskless weeks in Montgomery County, the indoor mask mandate is coming back this Saturday at 12:01 a.m. after county health officials and the CDC confirmed seven consecutive days of substantial COVID-19 transmission.
It comes just as neighboring Washington, D.C. is set to do away with its mask mandate for the first time since July at the beginning of next week.
“It’s not the decision I would make over here. In the face of rising cases, I think it’d be premature for us to make that decision,” Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich said of D.C.’s decision to remove their mandate.
Other county leaders are on board with bringing the mandate back, too, saying it’s just another easy layer of protection against the virus.
“Do I think it’s going to make a huge difference to keep masks on at this point? I don’t know, I don’t think so. Certainly, there’s enough reason to keep doing it and little harm to doing it,” said Dr. Earl Stoddard, the county’s assistant chief administrative officer and former director of the county’s Office Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
Dr. Nicole Cooper, a physician in the D.C. metro area, says she’ll keep wearing her mask as long as she needs to.
“The vaccine is really not enough to remove the mask. I’ve disagreed with it from the beginning when they said if you’re vaccinated you don’t need to wear a mask. It sends the wrong message. It tells people that when you are vaccinated you cannot get COVID-19, and we’ve known from the very beginning that was not the case,” said Dr. Cooper.
What will it take for the mask mandate to go away again? Seven consecutive days of moderate community transmission — one step below substantial — or the county’s latest health order lays out a provision that nullifies the mask mandate once 85% of the county’s total population is fully vaccinated.
Right now, 78% of residents are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data.