Montgomery County

‘I Do Still Wear a Mask': As Montgomery County Returns to High COVID Spread, Residents Mask Up

Here's what leaders are watching carefully as hundreds of new cases are reported

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A surge in COVID-19 cases has pushed Montgomery County, Maryland, into a high transmission status.

In downtown Silver Spring on Wednesday, many people were wearing their masks indoors and while walking around outdoors. While no indoor mask mandate is in place, the county has now reached a high level of community spread of COVID-19.

But with COVID fatigue ongoing, many are reluctant to say they want a return to mandates, instead choosing when it’s right for them to mask up.

"I wear it sometimes, like once I go into the store," said one woman in downtown Silver Spring. "Once I come out, I usually take it off."

Montgomery County resident Isis Hodge said she wears masks inside but keeps her mask on her chin while she's outside. "When I'm inside and there's a lot of people, I put my mask on," she said.

The county went from medium to high levels of transmission based on these CDC factors: COVID-related hospitalizations, hospital capacity and new positive cases.

The CDC and Montgomery County officials recommend residents take the following precautions during high community spread:

  • Wear well-fitting masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status
  • Stay up-to-date with vaccines and booster shots
  • Get tested if you have symptoms
  • Those who are immune compromised should talk to their doctors about taking extra precautions
  • Follow CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine

There were more than 400 COVID cases reported in Montgomery County on Tuesday alone, according to county data, with 10% of hospital beds now occupied by COVID patients.

County Executive Marc Elrich spoke about the county’s numbers at a briefing Wednesday afternoon, expressing concern about hospitals getting overcrowded, which hasn’t happened at this point.

The good news, Elrich said, is that those who are vaccinated are not getting seriously sick.

"The bad news is that many people let their guard down, and they're not taking seriously how devastating COVID can still be in some cases, or the effects of long COVID," he said.

Officials said mandates are not on the table right now, but they’re closely watching the numbers. They’re still encouraging masking and vaccinations to prevent disease and limit the effects for those who do become infected.

"I still do wear a mask indoors," said another woman in Montgomery County. "Usually when I'm outside, I don't. But just because I'm going from place to place today, I'm just leaving it on."

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