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Maryland reviewing CDC’s loosened guidelines on outdoor masks, but restrictions remain the same for now

Health officials in Maryland are reviewing mask wearing policies after federal health authorities on Tuesday eased guidelines for facial coverings outdoors.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says that fully vaccinated people don’t have to wear masks outside unless they’re in large crowds of strangers and that unvaccinated people can exercise outdoors on their own or with members of their household sans face coverings.

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Throughout the pandemic, the CDC said people should mask up outside if they were to come within 6 feet of another person. Maryland adopted a mask mandate heeding CDC guidance in an executive order signed by Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

For now, Maryland’s mask mandate remains: Anyone who’s 6 or older has to wear a mask when in public indoor places and outside when physical distancing isn’t possible.

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A spokesman for the state health department said Tuesday that state officials would review the new guidance. Hogan has a news conference about the coronavirus planned for Wednesday afternoon, though his office did not indicate whether masking would be addressed.

The Baltimore City Health Department is also reviewing the new CDC guidance, said Adam Abadir, a spokesperson for the health agency, in a statement. City officials “will be making an announcement soon regarding any possible changes to Baltimore’s mask ordinance.”

Baltimore is among the localities in Maryland which enacted stricter mask orders than the state. The state’s largest city requires masks at all times outdoors, regardless of the location or other factors. Anne Arundel County applies the outdoor mask order to anyone age 2 or older and Baltimore County’s mask order applies to those age 5 and older.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky spoke about the shift in guidance at a White House coronavirus briefing Tuesday. She cited increasing COVID-19 vaccination numbers, declines in infections and research showing that a sliver of documented cases of disease transmission happened outdoors.

More than half of adults in America have received at least one vaccine dose.

In Maryland, about 42% of residents have gotten at least the preliminary immunization of the two-dose vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, according to state health department data. Meanwhile, about 31% of Marylanders have been fully vaccinated either by completing a two-shot schedule or by receiving Johnson & Johnson’s single-shot vaccines.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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