ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — As coronavirus cases surge again, with more than 1,100 new infections reported statewide Friday, Governor Larry Hogan’s expanded mask mandate went into effect across Maryland Friday evening.
Effective Friday at 5 p.m., Marylanders ages five and older must wear a mask or face-covering in public areas of businesses and buildings and in outdoor public areas when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.
The face covering order was first issued on April 18. The expansion follows the orders made in Baltimore City and Baltimore County last week.
“This expansion of the masking order is an action that is both fact-based, apolitical, and soundly grounded in science,” Gov. Larry Hogan said during a press conference Wednesday.
The expansion of our state’s current masking order will take effect July 31 at 5 p.m. Wearing a mask is the best way to keep you and your family safe, to keep people out of the hospital, and to keep Maryland open for business. #MasksOnMaryland pic.twitter.com/Sl4GFoZoe6
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) July 29, 2020
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Baltimore County now requires all residents ages two and up to wear masks indoors, but the mandate does not include further restrictions on outdoor mask-wearing like in Anne Arundel County, where people are required to wear masks outdoors when social distancing isn’t possible.
Baltimore City implemented a similar order and issued another pausing indoor dining.
Masks are also now required for anyone age five and older from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Ocean City’s boardwalk following intense debate among council members. There are exceptions for those eating and drinking and people who have medical conditions.
“In order for things to get back to normal, we have to do our part one by one,” Jeremy Jimenez told WJZ after getting tested Friday at the Baltimore Convention Center. “It starts with us. Everybody has to do their part in getting rid of this disease.”
Infectious Disease Dr. Amesh Adalja of Johns Hopkins Medicine said messaging early in the pandemic was geared toward freeing personal protective equipment for frontline workers.
“This guidance will change because we’re all learning about this virus in real-time,” Adalja said. “Then the data started to emerge on these pre-symptomatic individuals and that changed the guidance.”
Adalja said the evolving messaging may have led some to be skeptical of wearing masks and their importance.
“Hopefully, the politicization of this issue starts to decrease, so we can actually have arguments about the data,” he said. “We don’t have the ability to know who’s infected and who’s not infected, so this is one way where people can have some surety that, when they go out, they’re not exposing themselves or others to the virus.”
The Maryland Department of Health this week announced it would be distributing masks at certain state-run sites in a targeted manner through the end of the summer.
“The only way we’re going to be able to live with this virus and reduce the harm that it causes is to be equipped with the tools to be able to mitigate that risk,” Adalja said.
Adalja said he does not believe shaming people for not wearing masks is effective. He recommends continued education and broad mask use among as many in the public as possible.
WJZ reporters Mike Hellgren and Paul Gessler contributed to this story.