Washington DC and Maryland will join the growing list of states that are relaxing COVID mandates. Local leaders of both areas say that the dwindling number of COVID cases allows them to relax their restrictions.
Washington DC will drop requirements for people to show proof of COVID vaccination to gain access to many business establishments beginning February 15. Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the nation’s capital will relax its COVID restrictions as local cases are slowing down.
In addition, Bowser also said that the city will no longer mandate mask-wearing in many indoor activities. This includes dining in restaurants and bars, working out at gyms, and attending houses of worship. The removal of indoor mask mandates will begin on March 1. However, Washington DC will still require masks in schools, libraries, nursing homes, public transportation, and healthcare facilities.
Drop-in COVID cases in Washington DC
Bowser said that their policy change followed a dramatic drop in COVID cases and hospitalizations in the last few weeks. This reduction in the number of infections spurred her to relax some of the emergency measures she introduced last December.
Despite the changes, Washington DC will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments when necessary. The mayor told media members in the news conference that the city government will remain nimble. They will need to act fast if something changes like it did in December. Last year, an Omicron wave led to a spike in the number of cases.
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Maryland Also Relaxing Its COVID Mandates
Meanwhile, the Republican state of Maryland will also drop its COVID restrictions soon. Governor Larry Hogan said that the state will end its requirements for masks and face coverings in state buildings beginning February 22.
In Maryland’s Baltimore County, local officials will be ending the indoor mask mandate by the end of the month as well. In addition, Baltimore will drop its mandatory testing for unvaccinated county employees. Hogan also called on the state’s board of education to rescind the school mask policy covering the state’s schools.
Growing List of States Ending Mask Mandates
Washington DC and Maryland are the latest local governments to join a growing list of states relaxing their COVID mandates. Last week, both New York and Massachusetts announced an end to certain mask policies in their areas. This follows similar decisions made by New Jersey, California, Connecticut, Delaware, and Oregon.
Meanwhile, President Joe Biden continues to insist on retaining mask policies and other COVID measures. He said that the states’ move to dropping mask mandates might be premature at this point. However, Biden did entertain the possibility of relaxing requirements for children as more kids receive their vaccines.
CDC Will Stick To Universal Mask Mandates in Schools
Despite the growing movement to relax mandates, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will stick to its policy of mask mandates in schools. CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said that they won’t change their guidance as COVID cases remain high nationwide.
However, COVID cases and hospitalizations reported a decrease in recent weeks. Weeks ago, an Omicron-led surge pushed American COVID cases and hospitalizations to record highs. The US recorded an average of 189.268 cases over the past seven days. Hospitalizations now average to around 82,000. This is around half of the record 152,756 posted in January.
Watch the WUSA9’s video reporting that Mayor Muriel Bowser announces that DC’s proof of vaccination mandate ending, indoor mask mandates changing
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