Montgomery County Reinstates Indoor Mask Mandate

The mandate is automatically triggered once the jurisdiction reports a week straight of a substantial or high transmission rate or over 50 cases per 100,000 residents.

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Montgomery County, Maryland, has reinstated its indoor mask mandate on Saturday as COVID-19 transmission rates continue to march upwards.

Face coverings must be worn in indoor, public spaces by anyone over the age of 2. There are exceptions, including for people with disabilities or if someone is eating or drinking, Montgomery County says.

The mandate was automatically triggered once the jurisdiction reported a week straight of a substantial or high transmission rate, or over 50 cases per 100,000 residents, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Saturday morning, the county had a rate of 63.3 infections per 100,000 residents, according to its COVID-19 Surveillance Dashboard.

That indicator of community transmission has been trending upward since a recent low point of 46.36 on Nov. 6.

The mandate would end if the case rates fell to low again for seven days.

The county's case rates have had ups and downs like a roller coaster, and some residents may be feeling whiplash over the changing mask mandate policies.

Montgomery County lifted a mask mandate on Oct. 28, after community transmission at a moderate level. However, 48 hours later, the county was already back in the substantial transmission category.

The numbers then fell, barely avoiding the triggering of the indoor mandate. But since last week, the infections have been increasing once again.

Earlier this month, the county council changed the policy regarding the mask mandate, resolving that the measure will return only if Montgomery County sees seven straight days of a substantial or high spread of the coronavirus. Previously, it had to record only four consecutive days for it to be reinstated.

The county reports that hospitals are in good condition, even as case rates rise. Hospital bed and intensive care unit utilization are low, and COVID-19-related hospital bed utilization has fallen back to low after being in the moderate zone for part of October.

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