BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Local health officials in Maryland are strongly urging mask usage in indoor public places as COVID-19 cases are on the upswing.

“Particularly, those who are at higher risk of severe disease, those with chronic conditions, those who are older should be masking indoors and in public settings. And, those who are in contact with them as well,” Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said. “Even if you’ve been exposed to COVID or you got vaccinated, you still need that ongoing protection.”

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Maryland’s COVID-19 cases, positivity rate and hospitalizations have all more than doubled in the past month, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

“I’m strongly recommending masks be worn by all regardless of vaccination status,” Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said Tuesday. “Certainly, cases are increasing and we don’t want to see that. But, it’s also hospitalizations, which, comparatively, remain relatively low.”

Citing a 243% increase in cases over the past month, Dr. Dzirasa urged residents to wear masks in indoor public spaces. She said the city is monitoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s transmission designation to determine whether to re-institute a local mask order.

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“I don’t see the public accepting a mandate. They didn’t accept it the first time,” Glenn Saltzman said Wednesday. “I seem to be one of very few people at this point wearing a mask. I do not find it to be a particular challenge.”

A court decision last month struck down a federal mask mandate on public transportation. The Department of Justice is appealing the decision.

“I don’t see the public accepting a mandate. They didn’t accept it the first time,” Saltzman said.

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Dr. Kalyanaraman says COVID cases are likely underreported based on so many at-home test results. He and Dr. Dzirasa each urged people to get vaccinated and boosted to provide ongoing protection against COVID-19.

Paul Gessler