BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A public health order requiring masks to be worn in indoor public spaces in Anne Arundel County will expire on Tuesday, county officials said.

The health order was issued on Jan. 7 by Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman after the County Council did not secure the votes needed to extend a previous order issued by County Executive Steuart Pittman.

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The orders came in response to rising COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, which have started to come back down. The county said the number of COVID-19 patients in its hospitals has fallen below 100 for the first time since Dec. 19.

“When Dr. Kalyanaraman issued the public safety order earlier this month, he did so because it was the right thing to do—to protect our hospitals, to keep our businesses and schools open, and to save lives,” Pittman said.

Dr. Kalyanaraman said masking became a public decision when hospitals began declaring crisis standards of care.

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“I continued the mask required because even in that intervening time another hospital had declared a crisis standard of care and the governor had declared a catastrophic health emergency,” Dr. Kalyanaraman said. “It changes from being a personal decision to being a public decision and so that’s why we put it in really for the month of January.” 

The county executive expressed gratitude toward residents who “continue to do the right thing” by getting vaccinated and boosted amd wearing masks when asked to do so, among other safety measures.

“Through consistent prevention and timely, and time-limited, responses to surges, we can continue to protect our residents from COVID while keeping our schools, businesses, and hospitals open and healthy,” Dr. Kalyanaraman said.

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The health department said it will continue to recommend that residents wear masks, get vaccinated and get tested, while they explore advance treatments including newly authorized antiviral medications.

CBS Baltimore Staff