Prince George’s County residents can breathe easy again.

Starting at 5 p.m. Friday, the county will lift its mandate to wear masks and face coverings in most public settings — a major step toward normalcy as the coronavirus metrics drop to levels not seen since the outset of the pandemic.

“I want to thank you for the sacrifices that you had to make in social distancing and staying apart from loved ones,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Wednesday of Prince George’s residents and business owners during a press briefing. “This was such a time, but I want you to know all of your sacrifices have made a significant impact on the progress that we’ve been able to make against COVID-19.”

County metrics that have dramatically decreased include:

• The positivity rate as of Saturday is 1.9%, the lowest since the start of the pandemic last year.
• The daily case rate of 21 per 100,000 residents on April 14 decreased to 4.7 by Saturday.
• The infection rate stands at 0.79, placing the county in the “low-risk” category.

Masks are still required on public transportation, at health care facilities and in child care settings.

Alsobrooks said business owners may still require customers and employees to wear masks if they deem it necessary.

“We’re comfortable with businesses doing what they feel is necessary to protect the workers in those businesses and to protect the customers,” she said.

Mouhamadou Diallo poses for a photo after receiving a coronavirus vaccine at a mass-vaccination center managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Greenbelt Metro station on May 26. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

The majority-Black jurisdiction continues to lead the state of Maryland with the most confirmed cases at nearly 85,000, but about 429,131 residents, or 47%, have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

So far, about 55% of those 12 and older received a shot in the arm.

But with vaccine supply now outpacing demand, a vaccination clinic at the Cheverly Health Center closed Friday and the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center will close at the end of the day Friday.

The county’s three mobile units and all county-managed sites will accept walk-ins with no appointment necessary, however.

Another location scheduled to close is the vaccination center managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency at the Greenbelt Metro station.

As of noon Monday, personnel from the U.S. Air Force helped administer 115,195 doses. The site will be open this weekend from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to administer the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine and second doses of the two-shot Pfizer vaccine.

For those off from work for Memorial Day and still in need of a vaccination, the site will be open from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. The same hours are scheduled for the site’s final day Tuesday.

Mouhamadou Diallo took advantage of the station’s proximity to his home in Beltsville to receive a second shot of the Pfizer vaccine. The 33-year-old service security consultant said for those worrying about the process in waiting in line and getting a shot, it took him about 40 minutes to receive his first shot and even less time Wednesday.

Diallo’s simple advice for those unvaccinated: “Trust the science.”

To find a vaccination clinic and to make an appointment, go to mypgc.us/COVIDVaccine.

Coverage for the Washington Informer includes Prince George’s County government, school system and some state of Maryland government. Received an award in 2019 from the D.C. Chapter of the Society of...

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