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COVID-19 Coronavirus Updates and Guidance

The County is taking a number of actions to keep residents safe and minimize the spread of COVID-19. Find status information for County operations and services.

Baltimore County News

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Keyword: prevention

Baltimore County Requires Face Coverings in Indoor Spaces, Calls on Governor Hogan to Revisit Indoor Dining and Bars Statewide

As jurisdictions in Maryland and across the country see increasing COVID-19 cases, Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski announced today that Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch has issued a new public health order requiring all individuals ages 2 and over to wear face coverings in all indoor public spaces, and also strongly encouraging residents to wear face coverings in outdoor public spaces wherever six-foot social distancing is not possible.

This new public health advisory supplements existing state orders (PDF), which currently require residents to wear masks in some indoor locations.

“The advice of scientific experts is clear: face coverings work. This commonsense step will help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and save lives,” said Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. “I want to thank our neighbors and businesses who continue to take the necessary steps to keep our loved ones safe. We must all do our part, or we risk jeopardizing the progress we’ve made together.”

Despite current prevention measures, Baltimore County is experiencing the highest seven-day average of 97 community cases per day—exceeding the previous peak of 94 cases per day over a seven-day period in May. Meanwhile, Baltimore County’s positivity rate has increased since July 7 to 5.92 percent, demonstrating continued community transmission of COVID-19. On Sunday, Maryland saw the largest number of cases reported in a single day in nearly two months.

CDC guidance has demonstrated the effectiveness of face coverings in preventing transmission of COVID-19 by symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. The suppression of COVID-19 will be critical in supporting future school reopening, continuing Baltimore County’s economic recovery, and safeguarding public safety.

“Our fight against this virus is not over. Without a vaccine or a cure we must continue to follow the science and the evidence which shows that face coverings—paired with social distancing and avoiding large gatherings—can slow the spread of this disease,” said Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch. “Our data is beginning to show initial troubling signs. To keep us from losing ground, we must act now.”

Face Covering Requirements

Beginning Thursday, July 23 at 9 a.m., Baltimore County residents ages 2 and up will be required to wear face coverings in any indoor business, service, organization, or establishment that serves the general public. This includes, but is not limited to, retail establishments, recreational establishments, houses of worship, and other locations open to the public.

Residents are strongly encouraged to wear masks in outdoor public areas where social distancing of at least six-feet is not possible.

Individuals will not be required to wear a mask if:

  • Eating or drinking while seated at food service establishments. In accordance with Governor Hogan’s orders, face coverings are still required when otherwise moving in or about a restaurant or bar premises.
  • A face covering cannot be worn due to a medical condition, mental health condition, or disability.

County to Swiftly Act to Protect Health

Additionally, under the order issued today, the Baltimore County Health Officer may also issue a warning, modify operations, or immediately shut down any business or place of assembly that presents an immediate threat to public health or demonstrates unreasonable risk of exacerbating the spread of COVID-19.

“We’ve focused on education before enforcement with our business community, because we understand how hard they have been hit by this pandemic. While the vast majority are doing their part, we will do whatever is necessary to protect the health and safety of our people,” Olszewski added.

Olszewski Calls on Hogan to Reconsider Indoor Dining

Following nationwide COVID-19 spikes, over a dozen other states or localities have taken steps to re-close bars and restaurants. County officials noted that, similar to statewide trends, young people now account for the majority of cases. Over the past three days, 53 percent of Baltimore County cases are residents under the age of 35.

County Executive Olszewski today called on Governor Hogan to limit bars and food service establishments to outdoor dining and takeout or delivery service.

“Maryland’s increasing case numbers are troubling and public health officials have consistently warned us about how indoor dining and congregating in bars can play a significant role of increased COVID-19 case counts. We have also seen that patchwork approaches to determining which businesses should be opened don’t work. I urge Governor Hogan to reengage with local leaders so that we can work in partnership to take statewide action to protect public health and save lives.”


Keeping Residents Informed

Following the confirmation of the first cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, Baltimore County is continuing to closely monitor potential developments and remains in regular contact across County government and with the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to prepare for any comprehensive and coordinated response as necessary.

“Baltimore County is actively working across agencies and with our state partners to coordinate information and prepare for the COVID-19 virus,” County Executive Johnny Olszewski said. “We have brought agency leaders together, will continue public health preparedness efforts, and remain vigilant to ensure we are ready for any scenario.” 

"Keeping residents safe and informed is our highest priority," said Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services and Health Officer. "Because misinformation can be as contagious and harmful as a virus, I urge everyone to rely on credible sources including the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and your state and local health departments for accurate and up-to-date information." 

Know Your F.A.C.T.S.

Baltimore County reminds residents to practice simple preventive measures. Knowing your Flu F.A.C.T.S. is an excellent way to limit the spread of infectious germs:

Frequently wash hands.
Always get an annual flu shot.
Cover your cough.
Take time off from work or school if you have symptoms.
Seek care if your symptoms worsen.

More Information

Visit the Baltimore County Health Department's website to receive the County's latest information regarding COVID-19. 

For state and national updates, visit the Maryland Department of Health.

The Baltimore County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) promotes well-being among individuals and families by providing quality health, housing and social services. Along with an administrative unit, HHS is comprised of the Departments of Health and Social Services.


Bill Protects Firearm Retail Establishment and Prevents Gun Burglaries

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski, Police Chief Melissa Hyatt, and other County officials today announced plans to introduce the Secure All Firearms Effectively (SAFE) Act, which would require firearm retail establishments in Baltimore County to install responsible security measures to protect their inventory from potential burglaries.

“We must do whatever we can to keep our communities safe, and that includes doing more to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals,” said County Executive Olszewski. “This bill is a straightforward solution to ensure that we keep stolen weapons off our streets and out of our communities.”

Firearm retail safety is an issue across Maryland and nationwide. Seven Baltimore County firearm retail establishments were burglarized 10 times in 2018 and 2019. In four of those incidents, burglars succeeded in stealing firearms, including one incident in which 51 weapons were stolen.

In June 2019, burglars attacked firearm retail establishments in Howard County and Montgomery County on successive nights, ramming each retailer with a car and stealing a total of 45 weapons. A suspect charged in those cases was also involved in one of Baltimore County’s attempted burglaries.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a total of 5,652 firearms were stolen nationwide in burglaries from dealers in 2018. Weapons stolen from these burglaries are often sold and used to commit additional crimes.

“This bill will require appropriate security measures for firearm retail establishments and gun shows in Baltimore County,” said Baltimore County Police Chief Melissa Hyatt. “The goal of this licensing is to avoid more preventable incidents in which multiple weapons are stolen, and then end up in the hands of violent criminals.” 

Many firearm retail establishments do not secure firearms in safes, vaults, shatterproof cases, or take other anti-theft measures after normal business hours, leaving retailers vulnerable to burglary. While some retailers utilize limited security measures, such as window bars, implementation is often not comprehensive, consistent, or effective.

Maryland law authorizes local jurisdictions to regulate the purchase, sale, transfer, ownership, possession, and transportation of firearms within 100 yards of or in a park, church, school, public building, and other place of public assembly. "Place of public assembly” means a location used for a gathering of 50 or more persons for deliberation, worship, entertainment, eating, drinking, amusement, shopping, awaiting transportation or similar uses.

The bill announced today would create a new county license for firearm retail establishments and temporary gun shows that fall under the county’s regulatory authority. In order to obtain a license, establishments and gun shows would have to implement a Baltimore County Police Department-approved safety plan.

Under the plan, a temporary gun show must have a security plan approved by the Chief of Police that includes an alarm system, video surveillance and live security guard coverage when the show is closed and establishments must:

  • Be monitored at all times by an alarm system registered with the county and a video system.
  • Include the following physical security elements:
    • Bollards or another physical barrier to prevent vehicle intrusion into the building; and
    • Security gates or security screens over windows; and
    • Either security gates or security screens over doors; or a secure vestibule for doors.
  • Secure all firearms in a safe, secure room, in a secured cage, or behind security shutters when the business is closed.
    • As an alternative to this requirement, the Chief of Police may authorize the dealer to provide live security guard coverage.
  • The Chief of Police can approve another combination of measures.

The legislation was developed in consultation with law enforcement officials and Baltimore County firearm retail establishment owners, and is based on more stringent state safety requirements for medical cannabis facilities.

The bill will be introduced in the County Council session scheduled for Monday, December 16.


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017