Montgomery County mask reinstatement mandate if significant spread of COVID-19 occurs for a week
Montgomery County will delay reinstating a face mask warrant for now, although county leaders have said the measure could revert if the community sees a week of severe coronavirus spread.
Montgomery County Council voted unanimously on Tuesday against reinstating an indoor public space mask mandate unless health officials report seven consecutive days of substantial COVID-19 spread.
The mandate for face coverings in indoor spaces would end when the county sees a moderate spread of COVID-19 for seven consecutive days.
The council decision relaxes earlier policy, which called for mask warrants whenever the county saw a single day of substantial transmission.
The council decided to count Saturday as the first day of recent substantial transmission for the county. If the substantial spread of COVID-19 lasts until Friday, the face mask warrant will be triggered and go into effect on November 9 at 12:01 a.m.
Council Chairman Tom Hucker noted that it will take weeks to get the majority of children aged 5 to 11 immunized and that many people in the county are still vulnerable to COVID-19 to defend the council’s decision.
“Getting to where we get our 5-11 year olds vaccinated is critical to keeping our schools open for in-person learning without a new outbreak,” Hucker said. “There are also thousands of residents in our county who are fully immunized but still at high risk and immunocompromised. So they risk becoming seriously ill or losing their lives to the benefit of many of us who are fully vaccinated but walk around a grocery store for a few minutes with them. “
“We have taken a cautious approach. We followed the advice of our professional public health team throughout the pandemic, ”he added. “And I think because of that we are doing better than the vast majority of jurisdictions in this country.”
If a substantial transmission does not last for seven consecutive days, the clock will reset to zero and no warrant will take effect.
The council voted unanimously to end the policy if 85% or more of the county’s total population is fully immunized. Just over 77% of the county’s total population is fully vaccinated, according to health data.
The county is considered to have significant transmission if it sees between 50 and 99.99 total new cases per 100,000 people or 8% to 9.99% test positive in the past seven days.
Dr James Bridgers, deputy county health officer, said the board of health continues to provide best practice on what science and data are telling the board.
He said the seven-day and seven-day exit ramps would reduce back and forth between the institution of mask warrants and their lifting, but would keep the community in a “safe space.” He noted that the various COVID-19 measures alternated between moderate and substantial.
As of Friday, new cases of the coronavirus have exceeded 50 cases per 100,000 population, according to county health data. As of Tuesday, there were 51.2 new cases of coronavirus per 100,000 population.
Health regulations also require that a health worker or other designated person notify the public if the county has become a significant transmission area for seven consecutive days.
Many people who attended a public hearing on Tuesday said council should remove the mask’s warrant.
Paul Meyer, who said he was the father of a 2-year-old, testified against the face mask mandate at all levels, saying the best thing to do is to vaccinate people and describing the rates of case as an imperfect measure to decide whether or not to institute a mask warrant.
“With almost the entire county vaccinated, with the next 5 to 11 years old, we shouldn’t be reinstating the mask mandate,” Meyer said. “Covid is rampant in Montgomery County. So are we trying to achieve zero Covid? Almost all experts agree that it is impossible. So if that’s not the point, then we need to have a real discussion about what levels of risk we are willing to accept. This is something the elected officials have to decide.
Bradley Jensen said he appreciated the council’s decision to provide more predictability around mask mandates. But he noted that if vaccination is a precursor to success, then board members should discuss it, not reinstate a mask mandate.
“The insistence on mask warrants has forced my family and others to remove our children from Montgomery County schools and take most of our belongings to counties where masks are not needed so that we can enjoy freedoms that accompany unmasking, “he said. .
On Thursday, Montgomery County officials announced that the mask mandate for indoor public spaces would be lifted. The county had reached its seventh consecutive day of “moderate” community spread of the virus on Wednesday, which means fewer than 50 new cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 population. The indoor mask’s mandate has been set to rise automatically after seven days of moderate or lesser spread of COVID-19, according to the board of health regulation instituted in August.
However, coronavirus cases rose again on Friday, surpassing the 50 cases per 100,000 population that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers to be significant transmission.
In response, the county health official said over the weekend that the mask’s tenure is expected to resume from Wednesday, an order overturned under the amended health policy.
County officials reimposed the mask mandate at the end of the summer due to the rapid spread of the delta variant.
Montgomery County on Tuesday recorded more than 82,600 COVID-19 cases and 1,600 deaths. The county also reported a test positive rate of 1.5% and 5.5% of inpatient beds filled with COVID-19 patients.