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Anne Arundel County Buildings Will Require Masking

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Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman announcing the new requirements Monday morning. Credit: Screenshot/County Executive Steuart Pittman Facebook Livestream

All those entering Anne Arundel County-owned buildings — including libraries, senior centers and office buildings — must wear masks, regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, starting Thursday.

County Executive Steuart Pittman announced Monday morning he was reimplementing the requirement.

“My hope is that other institutions where the public gathers will follow the county's lead,” he said.

The CDC updated its guidance last week, saying that vaccinated people should wear masks indoors in “substantial” or “high” transmission areas, where there are 50 new cases per 100,000 people for seven days.

Anne Arundel is marked as a “substantial” transmission area on the CDC’s website. On Sunday its daily case rate was 8.6 new cases per 100,000 residents per day, according to the county health department’s coronavirus dashboard. The county’s testing positivity rate is near four percent.

Pittman also announced that effective Sept. 13, unvaccinated county employees must get COVID testing every week.

“We're following the federal government's lead as a means of protecting our public servants and setting an example to other employers,” he said.

The Biden administration announced similar requirements for federal employees last Thursday.

Pittman said vaccines remain the most effective weapon against the virus and “all its forms.”

“We can stop this thing with no new restrictions, no more threats to our economy and very little disruption to our families,” he said.

Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman stressed that while breakthrough cases for fully vaccinated people are possible with the Delta Variant, this does not mean vaccines don’t work.

“The good news is that the vaccine still offers strong protection against severe illness,” he said. “The bottom line is that we've known that the Delta variant is far more severe if you're not vaccinated.”

Pittman said 70% of eligible county residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine. 54% have been fully vaccinated.

Sarah Y. Kim is WYPR’s health and housing reporter. Kim is WYPR's Report for America corps member, and Anthony Brandon Fellow. Kim joined WYPR as a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. Now in her second year as an RFA corps member, Kim is based in Baltimore City.