BALTIMORE — Baltimore city is keeping its indoor mask mandate in place even with Gov. Larry Hogan lifting statewide mask orders. Baltimore is also keeping in place mask orders at outdoor venues. The city has also launched a new door-to-door vaccine effort aimed at overcoming vaccine hesitancy and resistance.
Mayor Brandon Scott and Baltimore City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa said Friday they are updating the city’s mask orders after the governor announced he was lifting the state’s indoor mask orders.
Hogan lifted the state’s outdoor mask mandate earlier this week he wanted to keep the indoor order in place until the state hit a 70% COVID vaccination rate for at least one dose.
The state health agency reports more than 65% of Marylanders have received one shot of a COVID. Hogan changed course Friday citing new CDC mask guidance and lifted the indoor mask order except in health care and educational settings as well as on public transport. Businesses can still require masks.Hogan's easing of mask orders apply to both the vaccinated and unvaccinated.Scott and Dzirasa said the city’s vaccination rates lag and they want to keep mask orders in place until levels rise more.
Here is their statement:
"Effective tomorrow, May 15th, Baltimore City will relax capacity restrictions, in alignment with the new State of Maryland order. Additionally, until the City reaches a higher level of vaccination, indoor masking and masking at outdoor venues will be required. As such, effective immediately, the Health Commissioner is issuing an updated Directive and Health Order requiring face masking in Baltimore City.
This evening, Baltimore City passed a significant milestone, with 39.9 percent of City residents 16 and older being fully vaccinated. Based on available data, Baltimore City's fully vaccinated rate outpaces other mid-Atlantic cities such as Philadelphia (34.5 percent for residents 16 and older) and Washington, DC (23.9 percent of all residents) and we continue to encourage all Baltimore City residents, age 12 and up, to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The CDC’s recent guidance allowing fully vaccinated individuals to remove their masks indoors and outdoors is a triumph of science. This shift in guidance is indicative of the ability the approved vaccines have to reduce the chances of significant illness from COVID, and also increasingly, to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus. We see this updated guidance as a clear sign that all eligible residents should get vaccinated as quickly as possible, in order to return our city and our country to pre-pandemic levels of normalcy. Masking works. It has been proven to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Public health experts agree that disease transmission is much more likely in indoor spaces, especially when masks are not worn. Baltimore City’s response to COVID-19 will continue to be guided by the science and focused on public health. Baltimore City Health Department staff and clinical partners continue to bring vaccines directly to communities who need them at mobile and pop-up clinics.
Alongside the Baltimore City Fire Department, the City has launched a door-to-door vaccination campaign, serving our homebound residents. We also continue to support peer-to-peer conversations about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines via Health Department-trained VALUE Vaccine Ambassadors. These local community members encourage residents to ask questions, and provide answers, about vaccine safety.”