**FILE** Courtesy of Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services via Twitter
**FILE** Courtesy of Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services via Twitter

The indoor mask mandate in public places in Montgomery County was officially lifted Thursday morning as the spread of the coronavirus in Maryland’s largest county holds steady.

The mandate, instituted in August as the highly contagious delta variant of the virus fueled spikes in cases nationwide, was lifted at 12:01 a.m. Thursday after the county’s seventh consecutive day of moderate community transmission of the coronavirus, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WTOP reported.

The CDC defines moderate or lower as fewer than 50 new coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents over the past seven days. As of Friday, Montgomery’s number stood at 47.8.

The county’s seven-day average daily testing positivity rate is currently 1.4%, which is considered a low rate of transmission

Businesses can require customers to wear masks indoors and masks will still be mandatory in schools and on public transportation, WTOP reported. Additionally, unvaccinated people are still required to wear face coverings.

As of Friday, the county had the second-most number of coronavirus cases in Maryland since the outset of the pandemic, trailing only Prince George’s County, and the third-highest death toll behind Baltimore and Prince George’s counties.

However, the county reported earlier this month reported that roughly 99% of its residents 12 and older have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, which the CDC says is one of the best county rates in the U.S.

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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