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Scott Says Uptick In COVID-19 Cases Due To Delta Variant, Reinstated Restrictions Possible

Mayor Brandon Scott speaks at a Monday news conference, alongside City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.
Charm TV
Mayor Brandon Scott speaks at a Monday news conference, alongside City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa.

Mayor Brandon Scott attributed a steep uptick in COVID-19 cases to the highly contagious delta variant at a Monday news conference, saying he would not blink if health experts urge him to reinstate pandemic containment measurements such as a mask mandate.

Baltimore is averaging 16.3 new cases per day, an 115% increase over the last four weeks. The city’s positivity rate is 0.8%, a 95% rise over the same time period.

The mayor and Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa repeated the public messaging they’ve stressed since vaccinations first became available: that getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, your family and those you come into contact with from the deadly virus.

“In the month of June, every — that means each and every [Marylander] — that died related to COVID-19 was an unvaccinated individual,” Scott said at a news conference. “And it's becoming increasingly obvious that getting vaccinated is a difference between life and death.”

City data shows that as of Monday, 62% of Baltimoreans over the age of 18 and 50% of all residents have received at least one vaccine dose; experts say that more immunity against the virus is built when one is fully vaccinated — that is, having received two doses of a COVID vaccine that require boosters, such as Moderna, or having received a one-dose shot like Johnson & Johnson — rather than partially vaccinated.

Dzirasa said that 70% of residents are unvaccinated in some areas of Baltimore. She said that the health department, along with clinical and community partners, are focusing on bringing vaccines directly to neighborhoods at risk in the 21223, 21216, 21207 and 21213 zip codes.

“We, along with our efforts, are putting tremendous effort into bringing vaccines to those low coverage areas,” she said. “But standing before you today, I'm worried about the disparate impacts that the delta variant could have on some parts of the city compared to others.”

The Maryland Department of Health recently reported that 43% of all new state cases are due to the delta variant, Dzirasa said. Maryland’s trends are in line with those throughout the U.S.; the variant spreads about two to three times faster than the original version of the virus, studies show.

Several cities have re-enacted containment measurements such as mask mandates, including Los Angeles.

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.