By Mike Hellgren

FREDERICK, Md. (WJZ) — While the pace of Covid-19 infections in much of central Maryland is slowing, Frederick County is dealing with a positivity rate almost 50% higher than Maryland’s average.

That has county leaders talking about an indoor mask mandate. They discussed the issue this week.

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“We continue to have people dying from Covid every week. One person in the past 24 hours. It concerns me greatly in a period of high transmission,” County Executive Jan Gardner said this week.

Gardner noted, “We are lagging behind most of the big counties in central Maryland along the I-95 corridor.”

Data shows that 64% of people in Frederick County have been fully vaccinated.

Some county leaders have reservations about an indoor mask mandate.

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“We are not going to be able to enforce this and setting up a mandate is going to set them up for failure,” said Frederick County Council President M.C. Keegan-Ayer.

The county executive said enforcement has been an issue in the past. “We hired people from outside security firms to do the mask type of enforcement. It was such a difficult and unpleasant job that people would not continue in a position to do it. …Declaring a mask mandate is one thing, but you have to know that it will simply not be enforced. We cannot even hire people to do that work.”

Johanna Zimmerly lives in Frederick County and told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren she would support a mask mandate. “The personalities in Frederick County are still, ‘I’m independent. I feel that nothing is going to bother me.’ There’s still a lot of people who live in areas where they feel they won’t get the virus,” Zimmerly said. “If the positivity rate keeps going up, I think the only way to go is to put a mandate in.”

“I think right now it’s not necessary,” said Hadley Zuse. “I work at the local coffee shop right down the road and people tend to wear masks anyway just for their own safety. I think if the employees are vaccinated it should be safe for everyone to just do what they please.”

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The state board of education said 70% of all teachers in Frederick County are now vaccinated.