Virus Outbreak New York

Navy personnel prepare for the opening of a mass COVID-19 vaccination site in the Queens borough of New York, Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2021. This FEMA run site, along with another in Brooklyn. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s COVID mask orders are remaining in place even as some other states ease such mandates.

Federal vaccine “strike force” teams are also being deployed to help with mass vaccinations, Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday.

Hogan said the state’s mask mandate will remain in place during a press briefing on Thursday, April 1 in Annapolis. The governor said masks remain a primary way to curb the spread of the virus.

“Over the past year, all of the data and all of the science have proven that the very simple step of wearing a mask continues to be the single best mitigation strategy we have to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Hogan said also pointing to concerns about coronavirus variants.

Texas, Mississippi and Iowa are among the U.S. states without statewide mask mandates. Questions have also risen about the continued wearing of masks, including double masks by those who have already received COVID vaccines. Dr. Anthony Fauci, for example, has been asked about his continued wearing of two masks after receiving COVID-19 vaccines.

Hogan also announced Marylanders age 16 and older can begin preregistering for COVID shots and more mass vaccination sites and units are being opened and deployed across the state — including in Anne Arundel County and the Eastern Shore.

Those include new state vaccination centers opening at the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium in Annapolis and The Mall in Columbia.

“We’re attacking it from all directions,” Hogan said of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

A Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) vaccine center is being opened at the Greenbelt Metro station in Prince George’s County. FEMA is also deploying 32-foot mobile vaccine clinics on the Eastern Shore.

Hogan said FEMA “strike force” teams will help with vaccination efforts aimed at hesitant or remote communities. Still, Hogan said there are Marylanders who simply do not want to get COVID vaccines.

“Some people don’t want to get the vaccine,” Hogan said Thursday.

The governor also said starting Friday, April 2, the state’s mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury will offer a no-appointment walk-up line for those eligible for the vaccine. Hogan said the state will add more no-appointment lines at other vaccine centers.

The governor has also instructed state health agencies to work with local jurisdictions to get senior centers reopened. Vaccination clinics will be held at senior centers before they reopen.

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