All limits on social gatherings in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, are being lifted Tuesday, County Executive Steuart Pittman announced.
In a Tuesday morning briefing, Pittman said the remaining limits on indoor and outdoor gatherings would end at 5 p.m. State COVID-19 safety rules remain in effect, but “they’re not specific to social gatherings,” Pittman said.
The move comes as coronavirus case rates in the county continue to decline — below 19 per 100,000 in the latest numbers, down from 23 at the height of the most-recent surge.
“We are expecting and recommending that people continue to mask and [practice] social distance,” Pittman added.
While case numbers are down, the county is also experiencing what the county’s health officer, Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, called “a pretty steep dropoff” in vaccination rates. Last week, the county’s health clinics began the Monday with 5% of their appointments still available; this Monday, 70% of the appointments were available.
“That is a cause for concern,” Pittman said, noting that roughly half the adults in the county have been vaccinated. “We have a lot of work to do.”
He and Kalyanaraman said the county is making efforts to reach out through advertising and social media, as well as through community leaders, to people hesitant about taking the vaccine, but that people needed to look at the big picture too.
Before another fall and winter surge of cases can get going, Pittman said, “This is the moment that every adult has a choice to make: We either end this pandemic or we allow it to continue.”
Getting vaccinated for the sake of the entire county, he said, was not only a matter of personal protection, but also “a chance to do something truly great.”
Kalyanaraman added that vaccinations lead to such developments as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announcement Tuesday that masks will no longer be required outdoors if there’s proper distancing – a move he supports.
“It makes sense. This is what vaccinations are for,” Kalyanaraman said, adding that with more people vaccinated, more mandates can be lifted.
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