BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore’s coronavirus positivity rate is the lowest it’s been, but city leaders said that doesn’t mean restrictions put in place to slow the virus’ spread can be lifted just yet.

At a news conference Wednesday, officials said they need to see a trend — which could take weeks or even a month to establish — before further reopening steps can occur. While the numbers are currently encouraging, they need to stay that way.

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The city’s positivity rate sits at 4.2 percent. Originally, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young and Health Commissioner Dr. Letita Dzirasa said that number needed to be below 10 percent to enter phase three of reopening.

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Now that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests a positivity rate of under five percent before reopening, officials said the numbers need to continue to trend downward for weeks before changes are made.

“(The low positivity rate) could possibly be an early indicator that our aggressive approach to restrictions has had some impact,” Dzirasa said.
“Only time and sustained decreases will tell.”

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For now, indoor dining remains at 25 percent capacity, groups are capped at 25 and mask-wearing is a must.

Dzirasa said officials will need to look at the number of new cases, deaths, positive test percentages and hospital numbers over a period of time before moving forward.

Young encouraged Baltimoreans to wear miles, stay home and follow social distancing guidelines, adding the threat from COVID-19 is not gone.

“I keep seeing people complain about masks and asking for exceptions, but let me be very clear: COVID does not make exceptions,” he said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachael Cardin