Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich wants county residents to wear masks indoors, even though the mask mandate is not in effect.
Montgomery County, Maryland, Executive Marc Elrich wants county residents to wear masks indoors, even though the mask mandate is not in effect.
In his Wednesday afternoon briefing, Elrich noted that the transmission rate of COVID-19 in the province had reached “substantial range” for the second day in a row.
“It would take seven to go back to a mask mandate, but I just wanted everyone to know we’re on the brink of the two rates,” Elrich said. “I continue to urge everyone to wear masks indoors in publicly accessible areas,” Elrich said, whether it’s mandatory or not.
When the province exceeds 50 cases per 100,000, it is considered to be in the “substantial range.” Under the regulations of the province’s Health Council, the province would have to be in the “substantial range” for seven consecutive days before the mask mandate would go back into effect.
Elrich was quick to cite the county’s high vaccination coverage, which was 99% for the eligible population and just under 80% for the entire county population.
“Now the definition of eligible population is changing because we also include the 5- to 11-year-olds,” he said.
“You’re going to see a drop in our rates because there’s now a larger population” that is recently eligible to be vaccinated.
Montgomery County received more than 13,000 doses of Pfizer vaccine intended for children between the ages of 5 and 11, and county officials say parent demand has been high.
Earl Stoddard, the county’s deputy chief clerk, said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt that we have 75% of our parents who want their 5- to 11-year-olds vaccinated.”
In addition, Stoddard said, “We’ve anecdotally seen that children who get vaccinated encourage some older adolescents, young people and parents” to get themselves vaccinated.
Both Stoddard and Dr. James Bridgers, the acting health officer for Montgomery County, said they fully believe the county will meet the benchmark of having 85% of the entire population vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I don’t think there’s any question of whether we’ll make it to the number,” Stoddard said. “The question is when we get the number.”
“Right,” Bridgers said.
Stoddard was asked about the recent decision to discontinue the Montgomery County School system’s “test-to-stay” program. He said he’d been in touch with the Maryland Department of Health and school officials, and there would be more discussions about whether the pilot could continue “later this week.”
The provincial school system has continued to quarantine students, after adapting protocols to prevent large numbers of students from having to stay home during the first weeks of school.
In the first week of November, 273 students were quarantined, according to Stoddard, compared to the large number quarantined in the first weeks of school.
“We think we can get better at this as we progress. We’re trying to stack one on top of the other, these protective measures to keep more students in school,” Stoddard said, referring to the county’s idea for the test-to-stay program.