ELLICOTT CITY, MD – County Executive Calvin Ball today signed an Executive Order immediately lifting the mask mandate in Howard County. Howard County Government buildings and facilities, and public transit, including the RTA, will still require masks. Businesses and organizations may still require masking at their own discretion.
County Executive Ball released the following statement regarding the mask mandate:
“On December 23, 2021, I signed an Executive Order that required masking in indoor public facilities. This action was vital to combat our rapidly rising COVID-19 metrics fueled by the increasing spread of the omicron variant. At the height of the post-holiday surge, our positivity rate was nearly 30%, our case rate per 100,000 was 199, and 84 people were hospitalized at Howard County General Hospital. During the past month, we’ve seen our metrics decrease significantly, and more of our residents got their vaccines and booster shots.
Today, our positivity rate is at 8.47%, a 70% decrease from its peak, our case rate per 100,000 is 34, an 83% decrease from its peak, and our hospitalizations have decreased by 60%. Additionally, there is now a wide availability of rapid at-home testing and high-quality masks. Our metrics are encouraging; however, our residents should still use caution in public indoor spaces, regardless of vaccination status. Due to Omicron’s virulence, we still recommend the use of high-quality masks, such as N95s and KN95s especially for residents who may be at higher risk.
The single most effective way to prevent severe disease and hospitalization from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated and boosted. Approximately 86% of our residents 12+ are fully vaccinated, however, about 44% of those eligible still have not received a booster. Residents are highly encouraged to get a booster as studies show that antibodies wane after six months and this may make the difference in keeping our family and friends out of the hospital.
Nearly 65% of our 5-11-year-olds have received at least their first vaccine dose. I strongly encourage our youngest residents to get vaccinated, get boosted, and help your family and friends get their shots.”