PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, Md. — Prince George's County residents will once again be asked to mask up indoors, regardless of whether they have received a COVID-19 vaccine.
Beginning Sunday at 5 p.m. anyone over the age of five will be required to wear masks indoors in public venues, at all times except when eating or drinking. This will include restaurants, retail stores, entertainment venues, conference centers, and offices.
The county’s positivity rate is 4.6% as of Aug. 1, up from 0.9% on July 5, and the average daily case rate has increased to 11.0 cases per 100,000 residents as of Aug. 1 -- the highest rate observed since May 5, according to the health department.
“After consulting with health officials who are monitoring our COVID-19 metrics daily, we have been advised that we are now at a point where we must reinstitute an indoor public mask mandate to keep Prince Georgians safe,” Alsobrooks said. “The spread of the new Delta variant shows that we can only get out of this pandemic by getting more people vaccinated. If you have not been vaccinated, please do so as soon as possible, not only to protect you and your loved ones, but also to prevent us from sliding back further in our recovery.”
The new mandate falls in line with CDC guidance advising all Americans, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask when indoors in areas where there is a substantial or high level of COVID-19 community transmissions. As of Wednesday, Prince George's County was in the "substantial" range.
To see the transmission rate in your county, click here.
Just hours before Alsobrooks mandated masks indoors, and the Montgomery County Council issued their own mask mandate, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference urging all unvaccinated Marylanders to reconsider their choice, but declined to issue indoor masks mandates, saying "mask mandates will not be able to eradicate the threat of the virus."
“Those of you unwilling to get vaccinated are willfully and unnecessarily putting yourself and others at risk of hospitalization or death," Hogan said. "You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us. The freedom to not wear masks, to keep our businesses open and to get our kids back in school ... Just get the damn vaccine."
Maryland Department of Health data shows that 77.9% of Maryland adults are vaccinated and 93.4% of Maryland seniors are vaccinated. According to Hogan, the state continues to administer more than 11,000 doses of vaccines daily. Across the state, 3,836 fully-vaccinated Marylanders have contracted COVID, which represents less than 0.12% of state residents who are fully vaccinated; 96% of all cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Maryland since January 2021 have been among the unvaccinated, Hogan said.
While the state has the fourth-lowest positivity rate in the country, and hospitalizations and deaths are significantly down for their peaks (83% and 94%, respectively), Hogan did remind the public that the Delta variant is two to four times more contagious than the original strain of COVID.
"While the pandemic is currently under control in Maryland, the unfortunate reality is that COVID and its variants are going to be with us in one form or another for the foreseeable future," Hogan said in his conclusion. "We need to continue to adapt, to take the right precautions, and to look out for one another, which is exactly how we have gotten through this pandemic together so far. It's how we have remained Maryland strong."