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“Wear The Damn Mask,” Says Baltimore City’s Top Health Official

Alan Light/Flickr

Baltimore’s top health official urged residents to wear masks and practice social distancing Thursday during a COVID-19 update, as the city sees upticks in asymptomatic and community transmission of the disease.

“We go to a family gathering or something at a friend’s house, and a lot of us are more likely to let our guard down," Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said during a Facebook livestream. "You know, we’ve worn the mask all day at work,” but that’s exactly when transmission can happen, she said. 

Mayor Jack Young announced tightened pandemic restrictions to go into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday, including capping indoor and outdoor gatherings at 10 people and reducing indoor restaurants and other retail establishments to 25% capacity.  

“We went the route of reducing the capacity of most indoor spaces to allow for more adequate social distancing,” Dzirasa said. 

And if you’re looking for loopholes, she said, remember COVID-19 is a virus, not a lawyer.

“Wear the damn mask,” she said, echoing Gov. Larry Hogan's admonition of last week.

Dzirasa also reiterated holiday gatherings guidelines. She recommended that residents celebrate with their immediate household only and skip large family gatherings this season, especially if family members would have to travel from one region to another. 

And if you are planning to gather, she said, prioritize outdoor spaces, indoor spaces with ventilation and closed indoor spaces in that order.


Emily Sullivan is a city hall reporter at WYPR, where she covers all things Baltimore politics. She joined WYPR after reporting for NPR’s national airwaves. There, she was a reporter for NPR’s news desk, business desk and presidential conflicts of interest team. Sullivan won a national Edward R. Murrow Award for an investigation into a Trump golf course's finances alongside members of the Embedded team. She has also won awards from the Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association for her use of sound and feature stories. She has provided news analysis on 1A, The Takeaway, Here & Now and All Things Considered.
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