The Montgomery County Council will meet as the Board of Health on Tuesday, Nov. 2 to introduce, hold a public hearing and vote on an amended Board of Health regulation to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Montgomery County. The amended Board of Health regulation will be introduced at 9:40 a.m. and the public hearing and vote is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
The amended Board of Health regulation, sponsored by the Montgomery County Council, would require seven consecutive days of substantial COVID-19 transmission in the community for an indoor face covering requirement to be 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.
A seven-day period provides a more accurate picture of public health trends related to the virus and eliminates quick swings back and forth on indoor masking requirements. If approved by the Council, the amended Board of Health regulation would set 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 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 classifies transmission values as low, moderate, substantial or high.
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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
- 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 would become effective immediately upon its adoption by the Board of Health. The deadline to sign up for the virtual public hearing is Monday, Nov. 1 at 5 p.m. As soon as the Board of Health regulation is available it will be posted on the Council’s web page.
The amended Board of Health regulation would not change the ability of businesses and organizations to set their own policies regarding face coverings. Students are also still required to wear face coverings in schools based on requirements from the Maryland State Department of Education. Moreover, face coverings are still required on public transportation as required by the Transportation Security Administration.
Residents can sign up to testify via Zoom here. If you are not available for the public hearing but want to provide testimony to the Council you can do so by submitting written, audio or video testimony here. More information can be found at the Montgomery County Council’s webpage at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/council.
The Council meeting is being conducted remotely via Zoom and will be televised live on County Cable Montgomery (Xfinity channels 6 and 996, RCN channels 6 and 1056; and FiOS channel 30). The meeting is also available live via streaming through the Council website at http://tinyurl.com/z9982v8, Facebook Live (@MontgomeryCountyMdCouncil or @ConcejodelCondadodeMontgomery), or YouTube (@MoCoCouncilMD).