Masks may come off! Except in school, on trains, buses, planes
BY KIT SLACK
As of Mar. 4., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 community level in Prince George’s County is low, and the CDC no longer recommends mandatory masking in our area. That’s based on a new system, made public on Feb. 25, that focuses on hospital numbers and new case counts.
“People may choose to mask at any time,” according to the CDC. “People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask.”
Fewer than 10% of patients in Prince George’s County hospitals have COVID-19, according to the CDC website on Mar. 4.
Masks became optional indoors in the county on Feb. 28, by order of County Executive Angela Alsobrooks.
“We have the lowest transmission rate in the State because Prince Georgians never
hesitated to follow the guidance from our health professionals, and have done so with grace and compassion,” said Alsobrooks in a Feb. 25 press release.
“[W]e know that some of our residents will want to continue to wear masks, so we encourage Prince Georgians to continue to be respectful of each other,” she noted.
The CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS), Monica Goldson, announced in a Feb. 25 email that children in public schools could remove masks during outdoor school activities and spring sports.
Though a statewide mask mandate in schools was lifted Feb. 22, Goldson said that she would use previous state guidance to decide when to lift the mask mandate in county schools. She said she anticipates easing the mask requirement before the end of the school year, once the county population reaches 80 percent full vaccination based on state data.
As of March 4, 72.7% of county residents aged 5 and older were fully vaccinated (two shots of Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one shot of Johnson & Johnson vaccine), according to state data.
According to Goldson, “We have time to work through what this change will mean for all members of the PGCPS community, including those with medical conditions, in addition to our testing and quarantine policy and day-to-day operations.”
In a Feb. 26 press conference, Dr. Gretta Massetti, the CDC branch chief for field epidemiology and prevention, said the CDC no longer recommends masking in schools in areas like Prince George’s County where there is a low level of COVID-19 in the community.
The CDC restated other masking guidelines on Feb. 25. Masks are still required nationwide on buses, trains and airplanes. School buses are now exempt from the nationwide requirement.
Businesses can still require masks.