Howard County Ditches the Outdoor Mask Mandate

On April 29, Maryland state governor Larry Hogan announced the decision to remove the outdoor mask mandate due to the increasing vaccination rate. Howard County has implemented these loosened restrictions, which have led to a change of guidelines for high school athletics. 

“Today, I’m announcing that, effective immediately, we are lifting the outside mask mandate. Masks and face coverings are no longer required outdoors in the state of Maryland,” Hogan stated at the press conference about the decision.

The recent updates on CDC guidelines for mask wearing specifically impact those who are fully vaccinated. Two weeks after your second dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson, you may start opting to not wear a mask in outdoor settings or indoor settings with one other household. It is still strongly encouraged that people without the vaccine still continue to wear masks when outdoors. 

With the start of the Howard County spring sports season, players are now given the option to wear a mask during outdoor practice which has led to some controversy. Before, players were required to wear masks during practice and on the sidelines but now, everything is by choice. 

“Considering how much exposure we have, then meshing with 20 people, I think it’s better to wear them,” stated Lou Lagera, a senior on the Centennial girls’ lacrosse team. Many feel that with these new guidelines, it would be hard to prove who is fully vaccinated. Also, with the end of the school year rapidly approaching, some members of the community do not want to risk a potential health crisis. 

“I have a lot of family stuff and with graduation and this being my last year, I really don’t want to mess anything up or have a positive test on the team,” added Lagera. 

The girls’ lacrosse program has done a good job expressing their concerns and making everyone feel comfortable with the new decision. Although there are times where players are more than six feet apart, safety is the number one priority this year. 

Others believe that this news couldn’t have come at a better time with regards to the weather. “The mask can make me overheat sometimes and prevent proper air flow,” stated Rachel Middleton, a freshman on the softball team. With this season hotter than most due to pushed back season start dates, many felt as if masks were altering their performance. 

In sports like softball and baseball where teammates are spaced more than six feet as is, players are starting to feel more comfortable without masks. “Since it’s outside and we’re spaced out more, I think it’s ok,” mentioned Middleton. All in all these updated guidelines are one step closer to normalcy. 


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