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Baltimore County

Baltimore County to end indoor mask requirement, employee testing

Baltimore County will lift its indoor mask requirement in county buildings and end its mandate for weekly COVID-19 testing of unvaccinated county employees effective Feb. 28.

“As we approach the two-year mark of this pandemic, we are actively working to responsibly provide as much normalcy as possible for our employees and residents,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a statement.

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“The numbers are trending in the right direction,” he said. Last month, the county lifted its mask mandate for county businesses, citing lower case rates and hospitalizations.

The county’s average positivity rate has dropped nearly 89% since early January and the average number of patients hospitalized for COVID-19 complications has dropped roughly 77%, according to the county. The New York Times’ coronavirus tracker shows that 70% of county residents are fully vaccinated.

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In September, Olszewski announced that county employees must report their vaccination status. Those who failed to do so or who indicated they weren’t at least partially vaccinated were to be tested weekly.

County spokesman Sean Naron said 73% of county employees have reported they are vaccinated.

Olszewski’s administration executed an $8 million contract with an outside vendor to administer coronavirus tests to employees at county buildings. Powers granted to Olszewski through a local state of emergency order allowed the county to procure the tests without approval from County Council, which generally approves contracts of more than $25,000.

It wasn’t immediately clear Monday afternoon how much the county has spent on those services.

The county’s announcement came on the heels of Gov. Larry Hogan’s decision to end mask requirements for workers and visitors in state buildings effective next week.

Currently, data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that COVID-19 transmission in all Maryland counties is considered high or substantial.

The last day of required Baltimore County employee testing will be Friday, Feb. 25.


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