Montgomery County

Montgomery Officials to Vote on Indoor Mask Mandate After Reinstatement Recommended

Montgomery County’s indoor mask mandate was lifted Thursday because the county reported a week of moderate COVID-19 transmission. The next day, transmission rose back to substantial levels, according to county data

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The Montgomery County Council is poised to reject the acting health officer's recommendation to reinstate the indoor mask mandate.

Days after lifting the mandate, officials said mask regulations would resume as COVID-19 case numbers tick up. The council, however, will hold a public hearing on Tuesday and then vote on proposed changes to the mandate.

The county's health officer called for the mandate to resume starting Nov. 3.

Currently, it takes four consecutive days of "substantial transmission," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, to reinstate it. The council is holding a public hearing to discuss lengthening that time period.

"The amended Board of Health regulation... would require seven consecutive days of substantial COVID-19 transmission in the community for an indoor face covering requirement to be reinstated in areas open to the public," the council said.

Days after lifting an indoor mask mandate, Montgomery County officials plan to review the face covering guidance as COVID-19 case numbers tick up. News4's Derrick Ward reports.

In D.C. and Prince George's County, the mayor or county executive has the final say about the mandate. In Montgomery County, the decision is up to the legislature.

County Executive Marc Elrich had advocated an even longer sampling period of 14 days. He has also proposed tweaking of the regulations to present to the council that would give the county health officer more control over the decision.

Montgomery County dropped its mask mandate Thursday amid moderate transmission, but now the virus appears to be spreading faster.

The county reported 50.63 new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 residents on Friday. On Saturday, the figure rose to 53.3.

County health officer James Bridgers notified the county on Saturday that it had returned to "substantial transmission" of COVID-19 based on CDC guidelines.

The mask mandate goes into effect if there’s substantial transmission, even without action by the Board of Health, according to a regulation passed in August.

Assistant chief administrative officer Earl Stoddard told WTOP residents and businesses would be given a few days’ notice about a potential change to the mask policy.

The Montgomery County Council is set to meet Tuesday with Bridgers for a COVID-19 update and review of face-covering guidance.

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