Anne Arundel County, Maryland, is enacting its indoor mask mandate starting Friday at noon as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.
County Executive Steuart Pittman announced that he signed Executive Order #56 on Twitter: “I hoped we were done with government mandates in our response to COVID, but the current rate of spread and hospitalization is not sustainable, for our hospitals, our schools, our public safety agencies, or our businesses. Masks slow the spread, and it’s time to put them back on.”
The order states that all public facilities — including retail stores, gyms, houses of worship and restaurants — must require patrons and staff to wear masks indoors.
The mandate will expire Jan. 7 at noon unless the County Council extends it.
“It takes five votes on the Council to extend this mandate beyond 7 days, and we have support from at least four,” Pittman wrote on Twitter. “I and many concerned residents will do our best to convince the others that this is a necessary step to keeping our kids in school and our businesses operating safely.”
I hoped we were done with government mandates in our response to COVID, but the current rate of spread and hospitalization is not sustainable, for our hospitals, our schools, our public safety agencies, or our businesses. Masks slow the spread, and it’s time to put them back on. pic.twitter.com/L9EsRU9u5K
— County Executive Steuart Pittman (@AACoExec) December 30, 2021
Howard County’s mask mandate went into effect Sunday.
In neighboring D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser reinstated the District’s indoor mask mandate and declared a state of emergency last week.
New cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. have soared to their highest level on record at over 265,000 per day on average, a surge driven largely by the highly contagious omicron variant.
New cases per day have more than doubled over the past two weeks, eclipsing the old mark of 250,000, set in mid-January, according to data kept by Johns Hopkins University.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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