Virus Outbreak-Maryland

In this file photo from March 23, 2021, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan talks about the opening of the next phase of COVID-19 vaccine eligibility for people 60 and older in Annapolis, Md. Chas Eby, the executive director of the Maryland Emergency Management Agency, and Secretary of the Maryland Department of Disabilities Carol Beatty (seated) are to Hogan’s right. On Wednesday, Hogan eased some restrictions around masking in the state.

TOWSON Baltimore County will no longer require masks or face coverings outdoors, with some exceptions, County Executive John Olszewski, Jr. announced Wednesday.

The shift aligns the county with a similar easing of state restrictions from Governor Larry Hogan, which followed updated guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggesting that vaccinated people could start going without masks sometimes.

Basically, evidence is mounting that the risk of viral transmission while maintaining distance outdoors is ‘miniscule,’ in the words of White House Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci, particularly for vaccinated people.

Olszewski encouraged residents to stay vigilant, follow the guidance of scientists and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“Baltimore County, please use caution and help us stay on the path to winning our fight against this disease,” he said in a prepared statement. “By each doing our part, we can end this crisis once and for all.”

The state still mandates that face coverings be worn at large gatherings, like concerts and sports events, as well as indoors at public and private businesses and while using public transportation. People who have yet to receive a vaccine are encouraged, though not mandated, to continue masking and distancing at all times.

The big takeaway from local, state and federal leaders on both sides of the aisle? Get the vaccine, please, as soon as you can — it will literally save lives.

“We expect to be able to take additional actions in the weeks ahead and to return to a sense of normalcy,” Hogan said at a press conference Wednesday. “However, I want to stress once again that the fastest way to put this pandemic behind us once and for all is for every single eligible Marylander to get vaccinated as soon as possible.”

Hogan pointed to improved health metrics across the state, noting that the COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people has dropped 33 percent over the past two weeks.

And as one number falls, another rises — more than 4.5 million vaccines have been administered in Maryland. As of Wednesday, almost half the state has received at least one dose, and at least 30 percent are fully vaccinated.

Baltimore County is about on par with that state numbers, lagging ever so slightly — about 42 percent have gotten at least one dose, and 29 percent are fully vaccinated.

Twelve mass vaccination sites are now open across the state, including nearby sites at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium, at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore City, and Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen. Beginning this Saturday, you can immediately book appointments at all state mass vaccination sites online at covidvax.maryland.gov or by calling Maryland’s COVID-19 Vaccination Support Center at 1-855-634-6829.

Also beginning this Saturday, restrictions on outdoor dining capacity and distancing at bars and restaurants will be lifted, although seated service and physical distancing requirements will remain in place indoors.

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