Although some Prince George’s County COVID-19 metrics show improvement, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced Wednesday an indoor mask mandate for children ages 2 to 5 will go into effect immediately.
With the exception of eating and drinking, the indoor mask mandate included children 6 and older at places such as restaurants and other businesses. The county’s public school system already implemented a mask mandate for students.
“I know it is not easy to mask younger children, but we are really doing this based on the data we have and out of great concern for our children,” Alsobrooks said. “With the spike in COVID-19 cases that we say in young children between the ages of birth to 17, we’re just going to have to do more to stop the spread of this virus.”
As of Sunday, county data shows confirmed coronavirus cases in children ages 0 to 9 total 6,561. Cases for residents 70 and older total 6,192.
In terms of vaccinations, the county administered more than one million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine and the two-dose Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech versions.
Those vaccines remain unavailable for children younger than 12.
George Askew, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education, said residents ages 12 to 19 have surpassed the age group of 20 to 29 fully vaccinated.
Traditionally in working with young adults, Askew said some felt healthy “and not vulnerable” to where they needed health insurance.
Although the intensive care unit capacity at local hospitals stands at 52%, the majority of those hospitalized remain those unvaccinated.
“I can assure them of this: they are vulnerable to COVID,” he said. “They will catch COVID if they don’t get vaccinated and some of them may risk going to the hospital. Some of them may be risking death by not getting vaccinated. COVID is something else.”
Other county metrics that decreased between Sept. 26 to Oct. 2 include positivity rate from 4.3% to 3.3% and new cases from 1,057 to 788, the lowest weekly total since July.
The county’s infection rate now stands at .93, which assesses how COVID-19 spreads from person to person. Health officials said a good indicator remains with the figure below 1.0.
The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a research center at the University of Washington, projects nearly 6,730 confirmed cases for the state of Maryland by Nov. 26, one day after Thanksgiving.
“That’s the exact reason we don’t want to let up,” Askew said. “The more folks who continue to get vaccinated, the less likely we see a significant surge in that November time period.”