Anne Arundel Co. to require masks outdoors, aims to increase testing

Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is increasing its efforts against the spread of COVID-19, detailing plans to expand its list of places where residents are required to wear masks.

County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman signed an order requiring people to wear masks in outdoor public spaces where social distancing isn’t possible.

It will go into effect Friday at 5 p.m.

The order is in addition to previous policy that requires masks be worn in businesses and public buildings.

“This will protect people when they are in shopping centers, downtown, outdoor parties and other locations, where people are coming into frequent contact with others,” Kalyanaraman said at a news conference Thursday.

The new requirement is part of the Keep Anne Arundel Open campaign, launched by County Executive Steuart Pittman and county leaders to continue to keep the spread of the coronavirus under control, with a goal of reopening schools in the fall.

“It’s a campaign we must win to get our kids back to school and our people back to work,” Pittman said.

The county is also increasing testing, he said, with a goal to test 2% of the population each week, which equates to 11,600 tests. Currently, the county is testing just over 1% per week, with a 3% positivity rate.

The county has also released the data of tests by race and ethnicity, as it continues to see a disproportionate number of Hispanic patients testing positive.

The county’s seven-day rolling average for percent positive testing on July 9 was 3.47%, more than a point below the statewide average of 4.53% and the lowest of the six largest Maryland counties with populations over 300,000, the county said.

Anne Arundel County was also the first Maryland county to implement universal contact tracing for positive cases and the first to create a Coronavirus Health Equity Initiative.

With regard to schools reopening, there will also be a plan to test kids in schools if they experience symptoms, Kalyanaraman said.

Along with the increased testing and expanded mask requirements, the county will also ramp up complaint-driven enforcement to later hours, so it can respond to bars and restaurants not complying with safety protocols.

“We cannot allow the actions of a small number of irresponsible business owners to cause an industrywide shut down as we’ve seen in other states,” Pittman said. “We will act now to finish the job we started. We will act now to keep Anne Arundel open.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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