Changes come as COVID metrics rise in July,
Delta variant spreads across region
Annapolis, MD (August 2, 2021) Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announced today that effective Monday, September 13, County employees who are not vaccinated will be required to provide a negative COVID test result each week in order to report to work. Additionally, effective Thursday, August 5, all County employees and the general public will be required to wear masks inside all County-owned buildings.
“I have spoken to many of our department heads and union leaders about this, and while we understand that there will be some resistance, we expect that most of our employees will welcome this news,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said. “We are fully capable of vaccinating everyone who is currently not vaccinated before the fall weather comes, before flu season, before COVID surge season.”
The changes in County policy reflect new guidance and requirements put in place by President Biden and the CDC, as the Delta variant presents new dangers to unvaccinated residents. Under the new County policy, employees who are not vaccinated will need to provide their supervisor with a negative test for COVID on a weekly basis in order to report to work. The County Department of Health’s testing and vaccination clinics are free of charge to employees and additional pop up clinics, conveniently located for county employees, will be available throughout August and September.
“We’ve known that the Delta variant is easier to transmit and causes more severe disease in people who are not vaccinated. In the past few weeks, we learned that vaccinated people can also transmit the Delta variant at higher rates than for other variants,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said. “The vaccines offer strong protection against the Delta variant, but we are seeing more breakthrough infections. The good news is that the vaccines continue to offer a high level of protection against hospitalization and death.”
Last week, the CDC issued updated guidance on masking, noting that areas with substantial or high community transmission – where the daily case rate exceeds 7 per 100,000 people per day – vaccinated individuals should wear masks indoors. After dropping to a case rate as low as 0.7 per 100,000 residents on July 1, Anne Arundel County’s case rate passed 7 on Thursday, July 29, and now stands at 7.6 per 100,000 residents per day.
“The health and welfare of our County workforce is central to our ability to provide programs and services for our residents,” Chief Administrative Officer Matt Power said. “From our libraries and senior centers to our police and paramedics, we need our staff healthy and safe to do their jobs effectively.”
“For the health and safety of our County workforce, this is a needed step,” IAFF Local 1563 President Joe Addivinola said. “The new Delta variant shows what we’re facing – more contagious, more deadly versions of COVID circulating, presenting a new threat to our employees and their loved ones. If you haven’t yet, now’s the time to get your shot.”
“County Executive Pittman’s decision today will protect our workforce and the general public who come into our buildings on a daily basis,” Anne Arundel County Council Chairwoman Sarah Lacey said. “We need all of our employees and residents to understand the danger this disease presents, and to get vaccinated as soon as possible, to help us bring an end to this pandemic.”