By Paul Gessler

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mask mandates continue to be rolled back as COVID metrics in Maryland and elsewhere fall.

“I think people are getting more comfortable with where it’s at right now,” Tony Connor of Baltimore said Tuesday. “I still wear my mask when I’m in a place that has a lot of people.”

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Masks will be optional in Baltimore City Public Schools starting Monday, March 14. Masks are still required on public transit, per a federal requirement, through at least March 18.

“Thank God it’s better, but it’s not over yet,” Dr. David Dowdy of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said Tuesday. 12.45 “It’s possible that the ‘Pandemic’ phase of COVID-19 is in its ending time now, but we won’t know that for at least a few months, if not a year.”

Maryland’s case rate, positivity rate, and hospitalizations are all at their lowest points in more than eight months, per the Maryland Department of Health.

“(Metrics are) still trending down and we should, therefore, be able to live our lives a little bit more these days,” Dr. Dowdy said.

Dr. Dowdy said he foresees another wave at some point, but over time expects waves to be less frequent.

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“Masks come off, and people are back in the office and they feel safe. They feel comfortable,” Craig Martin, founder and owner of QG on Calvert Street, said.

Martin says his business had one of its best weeks in years since the city’s mask mandate was lifted March 1. QG relies heavily on the business crowd downtown.

The QG teamed up with the Baltimore City Health Department to offer a vaccine clinic 3-6 Tuesday afternoon.

“The biggest excuse we get for anything is ‘We don’t have the time,’” Martin said.

Visitor Joe Whitehurst of Orlando, Fla., said he will continue to follow public health guidance and is ready for the pandemic to be over.

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“I, of course, wore (my mask) on the plane on the way up here, but that’s about maximum for me right now,” Whitehurst said. “I’ve got the vaccines and I’ve got the booster and I’d do that again if that’s what it called for.”

Paul Gessler