**FILE** Courtesy of Howard County Health Department via Twitter

Maryland’s Howard County will reinstate its indoor mask mandate on Sunday at 5 p.m. amid the rapidly spreading omicron variant of the coronavirus and subsequent surge in COVID-19 cases.

County Executive Calvin Ball signed an executive order Thursday requiring the wearing of masks in businesses, buildings and public transportation.

“With the rapidly multiplying number of COVID-19 cases due to the omicron and delta variants, positivity rates in double digits and increases in hospitalizations, this is a necessary step to further protect our residents,” Ball said in a statement announcing the order, WTOP reported. “Being vaccinated, getting a booster and wearing a mask are the three best ways to protect yourself and those around you.”

County officials said getting a booster serves as an important step to preventing severe disease from the virus. The county reported that 87% of its residents are fully vaccinated, and 95% have received at least one dose, WTOP reported.

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