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Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Carroll County commissioners end mask mandate in most county government buildings, effective Monday

The Board of Carroll County Commissioners voted Thursday to end the mask-wearing requirement in most county government facilities, effective at the start of business on Monday.

The board agreed that visitors to the county’s senior centers and community centers must continue to wear masks during activities where 6-foot social distancing is not possible.

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During the commissioners’ meeting, Sue Doyle, the acting county health officer, briefed commissioners on COVID-19 numbers in the community.

“Things are moving in the right direction,” Doyle said. “Although cases are decreasing, the health department continues to put out the same general messaging,” encouraging individuals to wear a mask in public, socially distance, to get vaccinated and to get tested when showing symptoms. Hospitalization rates have declined in Carroll County since last week, Doyle said.

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The COVID-19 positivity rate in Carroll was 12.9% as of Thursday, considered a high transmission status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

“We want to see that around 8%,” Doyle said, adding that according to CDC recommendations mask requirements in public places can be lifted when the positivity rate is less than 8% for two weeks.

“If we get below 8% for two weeks in a row, we can start removing masking requirements,” Doyle said.

Commission President Ed Rothstein, a Republican who represents District 5, replied to Doyle’s recommendation by saying that Carroll County does not have a general mask mandate for members of the public.

“We never have, unlike Howard County, Anne Arundel County and all the others that surround us,” Rothstein said. “We only have a mandate in place for government facilities at this time.”

At the beginning of January, commissioners passed a motion to require masks for employees and visitors inside county government facilities.

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“With the numbers the way they are and understanding the risk associated with taking that off the table, my recommendation to my colleagues is that we do away with the mask mandate,” Rothstein said.

Commissioner Stephen Wantz, a Republican who represents District 1, said even if the mandate is removed, it would be important for the commissioners to strongly recommend that visitors to county buildings wear masks inside.

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“If our employees are comfortable in their work areas, it’s OK if they don’t want to wear a mask,” Wantz said. “I want to continue to be mindful here.”

Wantz added that an emphasis should still be put on limiting the number of people allowed in meeting rooms.

Commissioner Dennis Frazier, a Republican who represents District 3, suggested waiting until next week to change the county’s mask policy because of Carroll’s high positivity rate.

Wantz proposed changing the policy at the start of the business day Monday. Rothstein made the motion, and it passed unanimously.

Boards and commissions may continue to work in a hybrid environment for public meetings, dependent on the comfort level of participants; however, room capacity limits must be enforced and if capacity is exceeded, masks must be worn, commissioners agreed.


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