- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 15, 2021

State-mandated COVID-19 restrictions, including mandates for masks at camps, childcare facilities and schools, will be lifted in Maryland on July 1, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday.

The Republican governor cited improving pandemic metrics in making the announcement.

“We have finally reached the light at the end of that long tunnel,” Mr. Hogan said. “While the end of the state of emergency is an important step in our recovery from COVID-19, it does not mean that this virus and the variants no longer pose any threat. If you have been vaccinated, you are safe. But those who have not gotten vaccinated will continue to be at risk.” 

There also will be a 45-day grace period from July 1 to August 15 where relaxation of certain regulations will continue in order to help people transition out of the pandemic. This includes a 45-day extension for people to renew their expired driver’s licenses and an extension of the moratorium of evictions related to COVID-19. Health officials will also have time to transition from emergency operations. 

The state on Tuesday reported a record-low weekly positivity rate of 0.82% as well as a case rate of 1.57 per 100,000 people, according to Mr. Hogan. More than 6.5 million Maryland residents, about 72% of adults in the state, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, state health department figures show. 

The Maryland announcement came as the U.S. topped 600,000 lives lost to the viral infection on Tuesday, hitting another milestone even as daily cases and deaths have trended downward and more places are lifting pandemic restrictions. The death toll is comparable to the number of American lives lost to cancer on an annual basis, statistics show. 

Maryland this weekend is also partnering with Major League Baseball and the Baltimore Orioles for its Go Vax summer tour to hold vaccination clinics at Camden Yards. Everyone who gets vaccinated will receive two free lower-level Orioles game tickets. The state is also halfway through its $2 million lottery for adult residents who are or get vaccinated by July 4. Twenty two people have won $40,000 cash prizes, which will continue to be awarded through July 3. On July 4, a final grand cash prize of $400,000 will be awarded. 

Meanwhile, on Friday, the District of Columbia fully reopened and lifted its remaining coronavirus restrictions. 

Sports fans no longer need waivers to attend events, and pandemic-related capacity limits at bars, nightclubs, entertainment and sports venues have been lifted. 

However, mask mandates are still in place for schools, child care facilities, health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters and public transportation. Private businesses also have the power to require face coverings for customers and to ask for proof of COVID-19 vaccination. 

The District had a coronavirus test positivity rate of 0.8 as of June 10 and a daily case rate of 2.2 per 100,000 people as of June 13, the most recent city health department data shows. Nearly 58% of D.C. residents are partially or fully vaccinated, according to the D.C. Health Department. 

In Virginia, all of the distancing and capacity limits for businesses, restaurants, offices and other venues were lifted last month. Face masks are still required at public and private K-12 indoor schools and when using public transportation. The latest executive order by the governor also says masks should be worn in health care settings, correctional facilities and homeless shelters. 

Virginia on Tuesday reported a test positivity rate of 1.7%. More than 4.8 million residents, or 57% of the state’s population, have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, according to the Virginia Department of Health. 

• Shen Wu Tan can be reached at stan@washingtontimes.com.

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