Wicomico, Worcester Counties; No Guidance Beyond CDC Reccomendation
SALISBURY,MD- Governor Larry Hogan Tuesday announced there would not be a mask-mandate in Maryland, a measure other states around the country are considering as Delta cases rise, leaving the work of setting guidelines to local health departments.
Local health departments like Wicomico and Worcester say they are sticking with the CDC guidance, which recommends masking indoors in crowded places and in areas of substantial spread, a designation that Wicomico county currently has.
Spokespeople for both Health Departments told 47ABC the health departments are still looking at increasing vaccination as their ultimate goal for public guidance but are not ready for more stringent measures like Mask Mandates or proof of vaccination before entering businesses.
Wicomico County believes they would not have the ability to enact such a mandate, writing in a statement to 47ABC that reads in part:
“The Governor has jurisdiction to implement COVID regulations through an Executive Order. Locally, business owners and employers can enforce stricter requirements within their own establishments. Due to rising cases and positivity rates, CDC considers Wicomico County an area of substantial transmission. Based on these numbers, it is highly recommended that; residents wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, residents get vaccinated, and that those with symptoms get tested.”
Worcester County believes they do have the ability to enforce a mask mandate but are choosing not to cite a lack of need for the measure due to an abundance of ICU beds, the measure they use to determine how critically the Delta Variant is spreading.
“As long as those numbers are staying low which they are that is something we don’t have to break out too many additional measures,” said Worcester County Department of Public Health Spokesman Travis Brown.
That’s despite the data behind the CDC’s decision that shows vaccinated Americans can still spread the delta variant due to how much more virus this variant produces.
Dr. James Trumble, head of Tidal Health’s Vaccination Program believes that while vaccines prevent the body from having a severe reaction in most cases, it is proving to be unable to limit the amount of viral load in the mouth and throat, where the virus cannot harm the carrier but can be spread to others.
“During that period of time vaccinated people have it, a couple of days, you can still spread it to other people- and it’s replicating like crazy the delta variant still does that,” he said.
Dr. Trumble has been calling for masking in indoor places since June and believes a mask mandate would cut down on cases.
“It would help contain the spread, so it’s the vaccine that works to protect you, and the mask is for protecting others, they are both keys to fighting this variant,” he said.
Dr.Trumble says that since the shift in guidance, and the rise of Delta, his program at Tidal Health in Salisbury has seen an increase in people registering for their first and second doses of the vaccine.
He says despite that positive uptick in vaccinations, he still worries about ICU capacity, as the Delta variant has been listed by the CDC to be as contagious as chickenpox, allowing for rapid and exponential spread.
“It’s serious because it produces so much more of the virus and so we should be proactive,” he said.
He says that currently Tidal health has nearly two dozen patients as confirmed or possible Delta cases, and wants people to understand their ICU is already just over 10 percent capacity, without a surge.
“It’s at that baseline we aren’t sitting at no cases, we are starting with cases that can quickly spread,” he said.
Delaware has currently not unveiled new guidance beyond the CDC recommendations, but the Delaware Division of Public Health and Gov. Carney are expected to hold a briefing Thursday morning to discuss the state of their covid-19 guidance.
Local businesses however have begun implementing their own mask mandate, with companies such as McDonald’s, Chipotle, and Walmart re-instating their requirement for all people entering the store to wear a mask regardless of vaccine status.