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Press Releases - County Council

Council Approves Amended Board of Health Regulation Requiring Seven Consecutive Days of Substantial COVID-19 Transmission Before Implementing Indoor Mask Mandate in Public Spaces

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Updated regulation balances public health with more predictability and stability for residents


The Montgomery County Council voted to approve an amended Board of Health regulation to require seven consecutive days of substantial COVID-19 transmission in Montgomery County before an indoor face covering requirement is reinstated in areas open to the public. The requirement to wear face coverings in indoor spaces that are open to the public also terminates when the County returns to a status of moderate COVID-19 transmission for seven consecutive days.

"Montgomery County has one of the best rates in the nation for vaccinations and limiting the spread of COVID-19 because we have consistently made public health decisions based on data and guidance from our top health officials," said Council President Tom Hucker. “The goal of this amendment is to balance public health concerns with stability and predictability for residents on indoor masking guidance. This approach is meant not only to keep each of us safe but to help keep everyone else safe.”

"We thank all of our residents for their patience and ongoing efforts to help drive down COVID-19 transmission rates across our County," said Council Vice President Albornoz, who also serves as chair of the Council's Health and Human Services Committee. "We are fortunate to be in a new phase of this pandemic where we have third doses of COVID-19 vaccine and boosters available for so many of our residents. We also stand ready with plans to vaccinate five- to eleven-year-old children as soon as approval is granted. We will continue to evaluate the public health data as it comes in and work closely with our public health team to validate this updated approach to indoor masking in public spaces."

A seven-day period for monitoring COVID-19 transmission rates provides a more accurate picture of public health trends related to the virus and eliminates quick swings back and forth on indoor masking requirements.

The County is deemed an area of substantial transmission if it reaches 50 to 99.99 total new cases per 100,000 persons in the past seven days or 8 to 9.99 percent test positivity during the past seven days. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) classifies transmission values as low, moderate, substantial or high. If there is a change in COVID-19 transmission levels from substantial to moderate, the seven-day clock for determining substantial transmission stops. The seven-day clock is restarted when the community enters the substantial transmission range.

The amended Board of Health regulation sets aside the notice issued on Oct. 30 by the acting health officer that would have reinstated the indoor masking requirement on Nov. 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

The amended Board of Health regulation:

  • Requires that residents must wear face coverings in indoor areas open to the public when notice is given by the health officer or a designee that the County has been an area of substantial COVID-19 transmission for seven consecutive days.
  • Provides that the health officer or designee must promptly take reasonable steps to notify the public if the County has become an area of substantial transmission for seven consecutive days.
  • Requires the health officer to begin counting a period of seven consecutive days on the day that the transmission status of the County changes according to the CDC.
  • Establishes that for the period of substantial transmission that began on Oct. 30, 2021, the health officer must count Oct. 30, 2021 as the first day in calculating seven consecutive days of substantial transmission before a face covering requirement is triggered in indoor spaces open to the public.
  • Requires that the mandate to wear face coverings in indoor spaces open to the public terminates without further action by the Board of Health when the County returns to a status of moderate transmission for a period of seven consecutive days.
  • Provides that the notice to the public issued by the acting health officer on Oct. 30, 2021, which would have reinstated the indoor masking requirement as of Nov. 3, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. is null and void.

The amended Board of Health regulation became effective immediately upon its adoption by the Board of Health and would automatically terminate at 12:01 a.m. on the day immediately following the date that 85 percent or more of the County’s population is fully vaccinated, as reported by the CDC on its COVID Data Tracker. As of Nov. 2 at 3 p.m., the COVID Data Tracker reports that 77.5 percent of the County’s total population is fully vaccinated.

The Council resolution and Board of Health regulation will be posted on the Council's web page as soon as it is available. 

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Release ID: 21-441
Media Contact: Sonya Healy, 240-777-7926 , Lucia Jimenez 240-777-7884