Montgomery County could reinstate mask mandate under certain conditions

Montgomery County officials say they are holding off on mask mandates - for now. However, County Executive Marc Elrich said on Thursday that they will reinstate if "certain conditions" are met.

After D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Thursday that mask mandates are once again in effect indoors in the nation’s capital for everyone over the age of 2 – regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status - people across the DMV are wondering if mask mandates are coming to where they live.

Elrich spoke to FOX 5, saying if the county reaches "substantial rate transmission," they could make the decision to go back to an indoor mask mandate.

READ MORE: DC now at ‘substantial’ risk of COVID-19 transmission, prompting CDC guideline change on masks

A substantial rate transmission in Montgomery County is defined as a total of 525 new cases over seven days, an average of 75 new cases a day, according to health officials. 

Right now, Elrich says Montgomery County is in the low 30s for their weekly average, but cases in the past week have been in the 50s.

There were 61 new cases Thursday, the first day the county has gotten in the 60s in recent memory.

On Thursday afternoon, Elrich says he sent the plan to the county council for approval.

"It's possible if days like today and yesterday continue, we can hit that next week," Elrich told FOX5. "Maybe we never get there. That would be good, that would mean the cases have gone down and stabilized and if we do hit the trigger, at least we have the ability to not wait for the council to come back in session in September."

Montgomery County is going by new CDC guidelines on masks that came out this week, just as D.C. is doing.

Those guidelines have been controversial because they are focused on new cases, not hospitalizations.

COVID-19 hospitalizations remain low. In D.C., 24 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized as of Wednesday. In Montgomery County, they are reporting zero to five new admissions a day this week.

Elrich also says Montgomery County has the highest vaccination rate for a jurisdiction this size in the nation.

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"We’re doing this, I’d say, as well as any place in the country. And better than probably 99% of places in the country," Elrich told FOX 5.

Elrich has made the argument before that the caution in the county has resulted in keeping cases so low. 

FOX 5 hasn't heard of any other specific plans for bringing masks back. In Virginia, the governor is just encouraging people to wear masks indoors for now. In Maryland, the governor has indicated he is not interested in bringing back statewide mask mandates.