Hi, I’m Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, the health officer for Anne Arundel County. Welcome to our Weekly Health Update. The COVID vaccines are safe and effective, and they’re our path out of this pandemic. 68% of people in the county have gotten two doses and nearly 60% of those eligible have gotten a booster. Today, let’s talk about masking.
What is changing with masking in the county?
The case rate is continuing to decrease and so the risk of the spread of COVID for the whole county continues to go down. As that happens, mask requirements in indoor settings are being lifted in state buildings and county buildings starting February 22nd. Some businesses and organizations will continue to require masks in their buildings.
Who should continue wearing masks?
While the overall risk is decreasing, a significant number of people still have a higher personal risk. People over the age of 2 who are not fully vaccinated should continue to mask in indoor public settings. Also, people who have a medical condition or are taking medications that weaken their immune system may not be fully protected even if they are up to date with their COVID vaccines. They should continue to take all precautions recommended for those who are not fully vaccinated including wearing a well-fitted mask. If you have questions or concerns about your medical conditions, you should discuss them with your medical provider.
Will recommendations change?
The guidance we rely on from the CDC recommends different approaches to masking at different times based on the case rate. Additional factors like vaccination rate and hospitalizations also play a role in recommendations. COVID has been unpredictable but we have the tools we need to keep you and your family safe during periods of increased transmission. Our job at the Health Department is to let you know when it’s time to use those tools and we’ll keep you informed of any changes.
As case rates come down, some people are more comfortable with being unmasked around others and some less so. Remember, you can still wear a mask as you choose. We do encourage you to participate in social activities with family and friends during periods of lower transmission. Enjoying social activities is critical to mental wellness and resilience. And, building resilience is important for overall wellness and coping with uncertainty.
Stay safe and be kind to yourself and others. We’ll see you next week.