BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Baltimore County's indoor mask mandate will expire Tuesday and its state of emergency will be lifted Feb. 7, County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced on Monday.
The emergency declaration and a public health order requiring masks to be worn in indoor public spaces were issued in late December in response to surging COVID-19 infections, which crowded the county's hospitals.
Since then, the county has seen promising signs in its fight to contain the spread of COVID-19, including a 50% decrease in hospitalizations since Jan. 11 and an 80% decrease in the positivity rate since Jan. 3.
"We are strongly encouraged by the progress we've seen in recent days and remain cautiously optimistic that we are emerging from this omicron wave," Olszewski said Monday in a prepared statement.
Hospitalizations related to COVID-19 throughout the state were soaring when the orders were issued. In Baltimore County hospitals, there were 13 staffed ICU beds available at the time, according to county figures.
"We're really proud of where we are our hospitalizations are down about half since early January covid case rates are down by about 85 percent," said County spokesperson Sean Naron. "We're hoping to continue that progress."
The mask mandate required residents and visitors to wear masks indoors in any public spaces—restaurants, businesses, houses of worship, among them—where social distancing was not possible.
Even as the mandate is set to expire Tuesday, county employees and members of the public will still be required to wear face coverings inside all county buildings and facilities.
The county is also reminding residents to continue to doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including social distancing, getting tested and washing their hands frequently.
Olszewski encouraged residents to get vaccinated and boosted if they haven't already done so, saying that is the key step to protecting themselves and their loved ones from serious illness.
"The best way to continue our progress is for every resident to protect themselves, their loved ones, and our community by getting vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible," Olszewski said. "Moving forward, we will continue to closely monitor key metrics and remain prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to protect public health."
A similar mask requirement in Anne Arundel County will expire on Tuesday, officials said. Harford County will lift a requirement for masks inside government buildings.
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