County Maintains Moderate Transmission; Indoor Mask Mandate Could End Soon

Montgomery County reached CDC-defined moderate COVID-19 transmission last Thursday and officials said the county’s indoor mask mandate could end later this week.

In early August, a county council resolution reinstated the mandate when the county reached CDC-defined substantial transmission. The mandate will end after the county maintains moderate transmission for seven consecutive days. According to the CDC, substantial transmission is 50-99.99 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. Moderate transmission is 10–49.99 cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days. Transmission is also measured by seven-day average COVID-19 test positivity, which shows low transmission in Montgomery County. When the two indicators show different levels, the higher level should be used for decision-making, the CDC advises.

On Thursday, the county reported 49.78 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days and has maintained moderate transmission since then. On Monday, the county reported 45.68 cases per 100,000 residents, marking day five of moderate transmission.

During a virtual briefing Monday, County Public Health Emergency Preparedness Manager Sean O’Donnell clarified that the county has had four consecutive days of moderate transmission. He said the county is currently in its fifth day as of Monday, and will have to see how numbers turn out. He said it takes a day to understand the actual data from the previous day.

If moderate transmission continues, O’Donnell said he understands the mandate will be automatically lifted at midnight Thursday night. If the county hits substantial transmission before reaching the seven days-in-a-row, the countdown will end and restart upon reaching moderate transmission again.

Council President Tom Hucker emphasized that even after the indoor mask mandate is potentially lifted, it can be reinstated if the county re-enters and maintains substantial transmission. He encouraged residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and continue to take other precautions like distancing and hand-washing to keep metrics going in the right direction.

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