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For Immediate Release: Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Montgomery County Council, acting as the Board of Health, voted unanimously today to require that all residents, regardless of vaccination status, wear face coverings indoors once Montgomery County has become an area of “substantial transmission” of COVID-19. Last week, County Executive Marc Elrich and County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles recommended that the Council adopt a regulation mandating indoor masks when Montgomery County reaches “substantial transmission” of the COVID-19 virus. 

Dr. Gayles notified Council during today’s hearing that the County is now an area of substantial transmission. The Board of Health regulation mandating indoor masks will take effect Saturday, Aug. 7 at 12:01 a.m.      

On Tuesday, July 27, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), citing new data on the Delta variant, recommended that jurisdictions with substantial or high transmission rates of COVID-19 should require that masks be worn indoors. The CDC defines substantial transmission as 50-99 cases per 100,000 residents over a period of seven days. 

“The Delta variant is the dominant strain circulating,” said Dr. Gayles, “and even though we have a high rate of vaccination in our community, we now know that the Delta variant is very easy to spread. To protect those who are not eligible to be vaccinated, such as children under the age of 12, we need to take every measure we can to slow down the spread of the virus. Masks are an important first line of defense to keep community transmission low.”

"I appreciate the vote today by the Montgomery County Council, sitting as the Board of Health, supporting our public health recommendation to reinstate masking at indoor locations in accordance with CDC guidance," said County Executive Elrich. "The rise in cases has happened rapidly. A little over a month ago, our case rate per 100,000 residents was below one. Now it is at almost seven. If everyone were to get vaccinated, it would be a huge help to get control of this Delta variant. But in the absence of a higher vaccination rate in the community, masking is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of the virus. We are implementing these protective measures now so we can prevent further spread so that we can keep businesses open and welcome our children back to school at the end of the month."

Eighty percent of the nation's 3,000 counties or 90 percent of the nation’s population are in the “substantial transmission” level, including many in the Washington metro region.  

Visit the COVID-19 website to view the Board of Health regulation and to find a definition of what constitutes a face covering—only wearing a plastic face shield does not satisfy the face covering mandate, nor does wearing a face covering with a valve. These examples have been shown to be ineffective at preventing the spread of the aerosol droplets that can cause COVID-19. Visit the dashboard to review the latest metrics and key indicators. The dashboard is updated daily by 2 p.m.

If you are not vaccinated, find free vaccination clinics at If you feel sick or think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, get tested. Find free testing clinics at

For the latest COVID-19 updates, visit the County’s COVID-19 website and follow Montgomery County on Facebook @MontgomeryCountyInfo and Twitter @MontgomeryCoMD.

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Release ID: 21-614
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 301-529-7669