ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is bringing back an indoor mask mandate while Governor Larry Hogan said there is no need to require face coverings statewide.
The city will reinstate its indoor mask mandate starting Monday at 9 a.m. and it includes private businesses. Regardless of your vaccination status, you must wear a face covering. Baltimore was one of the last jurisdictions to lift the prior mandate in early July.
"The pandemic is not yet over!" Mayor Scott said at an afternoon press briefing in East Baltimore.
The city has seen new infections rise by more than 500% compared to one month ago. City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said the spreading and highly contagious Delta variant is driving the new masking requirement.
Scott urged people to get vaccinated.
"If we do not get more people vaccinated, more people will die. This is not fear-mongering, this is reality," Scott told reporters.
Anne Arundel County's Executive said this week that mask mandates must come from the governor, but Mayor Scott told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren he has the authority to mandate masks in his city.
"Through the powers vested in our health commissioner to issue this as a health order," he said.
Governor Larry Hogan agreed. "We support the ability of local jurisdictions to make those decisions for themselves," the governor said at a Thursday afternoon news conference.
But statewide, the governor said he will not go back to a mask requirement.
"Mask mandates or shutdowns will not be able to eradicate the threat of the virus or this Delta variant," Hogan said.
Starting Sept. 1, Hogan will require some state employees to get vaccinated or wear masks and get tested regularly. That includes those working in state-run health care facilities, juvenile services, veterans affairs and prisons.
"Those are folks that need to be vaccinated," the governor said. "…They should have been already."
The governor had harsh words for the unvaccinated and still recommends they wear masks when indoors.
Here is the latest guidance from the Maryland Department of Health:
"You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us—the freedom not to wear masks, to keep our businesses open and to get our kids back in school," Governor Hogan said.
He also advised private nursing homes follow the state's lead and mandate vaccinations or testing for their employees. Hogan said there has been an increase in cases among unvaccinated workers and he is concerned about outbreaks.
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