City’s Mask Mandates Will Remain In Place Until 65% Of Residents Have Received A Vaccine Dose
Baltimore City will not lift a mandate that requires masks at indoor and outdoor venues until 65% of residents age 18 and up have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa announced Monday afternoon.
The announcement is Mayor Brandon Scott’s most recent instance in a history of setting firmer city pandemic restrictions than those of the state. Gov. Larry Hogan lifted Maryland’s statewide mask mandate on Saturday, citing updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that say that fully vaccinated people may forgo masks in nearly all settings.
“As today, Baltimore City has hit a significant milestone, with 33% percent of city residents 16 and older being fully vaccinated. But this means two out of three people you pass on the street are not yet vaccinated,” Scott said.
Scott aligned the city with some of Hogan’s state restrictions last week, when he lifted capacity restrictions at bars, restaurants, and indoor and outdoor venues. Masking requirements remain in place at indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city, however.
Baltimore’s vaccination rates are far lower than those statewide. As of Monday afternoon, 41% of Baltimoreans 16 and older had received at least one dose, compared to 65% of Marylanders.
City officials said the administration’s decision aims to protect those who do not have the COVID-19 immunity the vaccine has been proven to provide. “Masking works,” Dzirasa said. “It’s been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Public health experts agree that disease transition is much more likely in indoor spaces, especially when masks aren’t worn.”
She called the CDC's recent change in masking guidance for fully vaccinated individuals “a triumph of science that underscores the importance of vaccinations.”
“We see this updated guidance as a clear sign that all eligible residents should get vaccinated as quickly as possible in order to return our city and country to pre-pandemic levels of normalcy,” she said.
At the same time, Dzirasa continued, current city vaccination rates do not suggest the city should remove its masking mandate, despite marked improvements in city COVID-19 rates. “The majority of Baltimoreans remain vulnerable to the deadly effects of the novel coronavirus,” she said.
Dzirasa and Scott encouraged unvaccinated residents 12 and older to make a vaccine appointment through the city’s registration portal.
“This is about protecting yourselves and those around you,” Scott said.