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Prince George’s County extends mask mandate

This July 28, 2021, file photo shows a sign on the door of a hair salon informing patrons that masks are required to be in the business in Kansas City, Mo. Businesses large and small are reinstituting mask mandates and requiring vaccines of their customers as U.S. coronavirus cases rise. (Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star via AP, File)

A sign on the door of a hair salon informs patrons that masks are required to be in the business in Kansas City, Missouri. (Jill Toyoshiba/The Kansas City Star via AP, File)

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase and as the omicron variant of the coronavirus causes concern internationally, Prince George’s County has re-upped its mask mandate once again, to last through Jan. 23, 2022.  

On Monday, the County Council voted unanimously to extend its COVID-19 emergency declaration, which was set to expire in December if not renewed. The declaration includes a mask mandate that requires all people over the age of 2 to wear masks when inside buildings, with limited exceptions, such as if they are eating or drinking, using a pool, or have a “bona fide” medical reason not to do so.  

The declaration encourages unvaccinated residents to get inoculated and to wear masks outdoors, as well as indoors, until they receive both doses of the shot. It also notes that “additional restrictions will be reinstated if the relevant metrics show measurable increase in the spread of the COVID virus and that more restrictive measures are needed to save lives and to protect the public safety and welfare.” 

Prince George’s County’s mask mandate has been in effect since August, as the highly transmissible delta variant became the predominant strain of coronavirus nationwide. 

The county is currently experiencing “substantial” rates of transmission, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as are 10 other Maryland jurisdictions. The remaining counties are experiencing even more significant levels of spread and have been labeled as having “high” transmission rates by the CDC. 

Only Prince George’s County, Montgomery County and Baltimore city have mask mandates in place; Montgomery County reestablished its mandate on Nov. 20, only three weeks after lifting the mandate in October, due to the county having been labeled as an area of “substantial” transmission for seven days. 

In Baltimore, no moves have been made to alter the city’s mask mandate since it was established in August. WYPR reported in early October that the city only plans to lift the mask mandate after it experiences two weeks of declining case rates. 

Western Maryland is experiencing the state’s highest rates of transmission, with Allegany, Garrett and Washington counties seeing 305.33, 382.57 and 299.24 cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days, according to the CDC.  

This was Prince George’s County’s 15th time extending its COVID-19 emergency declaration. WTOP first reported the news.