County Executive Elrich Calls Decision To Remove Mask Mandate on Public Transportation “Nuts”, Would Consider Reinstating Mask Mandates

by Patrick Herron

On Monday, April 18, Montgomery County announced that passengers on Ride On buses are no longer required to wear face coverings. This came after the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) announced that they had suspended enforcement of the federal mask mandate on all modes of public transportation.   The decision came after a Federal judge in Florida ruled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s mask mandate was unconstitutional.

On Monday, County Executive Erich made the following statement, “We think this is a bad decision by a Trump judge, who has no expertise in public health, to over-rule our nation’s public health experts. Not only will this increase risk during the current surge, but it undermines potential tools available for public health officials for future surges or future diseases.  As we join the region and comply with this legal decision, we are going to continue to monitor our transmission rates and legal options regarding masking.  We highly encourage all residents to wear masks on our buses, as well as in crowded indoor areas.  And, as we currently see our COVID rates increase, it is imperative that everyone stays up to date on their vaccinations.”

At Wednesday’s weekly media briefing, Elrich spoke more about the decision, calling it “nuts”.

Elrich said that if cases continue to go up in Montgomery County and it becomes problematic, he has no qualms at all about reinstating mass mandates.

In his weekly community message, Elrich encouraged residents to continue wearing masks on public transportation, “I am not pleased that we were forced to make this change, but we did it to provide passengers and operators with consistency with Metro and other regional transportation systems. This was a bad ruling by a Trump-appointed judge who has no expertise in public health in overruling our nation’s public health experts. As I mentioned during my weekly media briefing, this ruling was nuts.”

This decision undermines potential tools available for public health officials for future surges or future diseases, and I am glad that the Federal Justice Department will appeal the decision.

We highly encourage riders to wear masks on our buses.”

According to the most recent data, COVID-19 cases in Montgomery County have increased 23% over the last week, with 94% of our area’s cases being the new BA.2 variants.


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