Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Ends Mask Mandate in State Buildings

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Reporter
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.
February 14, 2022 Updated: February 14, 2022

Maryland’s governor on Feb. 14 dropped his mask mandate for state buildings, citing a reduction in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

“Given the dramatic declines in our health metrics, we are now able to take another step toward normalcy in state operations,” Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican, said in a statement.

The 7-day average of COVID-19 test positivity dropped below 4 percent in recent days, while hospitalizations linked to COVID-19 have dropped 78 percent since peaking in January.

Cases and hospitalizations across the country soared in late 2021 and early this year but have since plummeted in virtually all states, including Maryland.

The mask mandate will no longer be in effect starting Feb. 22, although individuals remain free to continue wearing them if they choose.

At the same time, officials are encouraging masks for workers and visitors who have not gotten a COVID-19 vaccine.

Hogan recently launched a lottery system in an attempt to incentivize Marylanders to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster.

“We continue to offer paid leave for state employees to get their booster shots, which provide critical protection against the virus and its variants. I want to thank all of our dedicated state employees for their tireless efforts that have helped make Maryland’s COVID-19 response a national model,” Hogan said.

Additional shots are being encouraged because the vaccines’ protection against both infection and hospitalization are waning following the emergence of the Omicron variant of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19.

But Hogan, like many officials, continues to recommend vaccination as the best protection against the virus.

Maryland policies do not take into account natural immunity gained from recovery from COVID-19.

Hogan, who has ruled out a 2022 U.S. Senate run but is eying a 2024 presidential bid, is also pushing the Maryland State Board of Education to end its school mask mandate, noting the drop in cases and hospitalizations.

“A growing number of medical professionals, parents, and bipartisan state officials throughout the nation are calling for an end to school mask requirements,” Hogan wrote in a letter to the board earlier in February. “In light of dramatic improvements to our health metrics and the widespread availability of vaccines, I am calling on you to take action to rescind this policy.”

The board is refusing to rescind the mandate, at least for now, but said it will consider doing so at its next monthly meeting.

The school mask mandate has been in place since Sept. 14, 2021.

The next meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.