Citing concerns about the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the rising numbers in the city and surrounding areas, Frederick Mayor Michael O’Connor announced Wednesday that the city’s state of emergency will remain in place until vaccination rates increase or transmission rates decline.
O’Connor said he plans to keep the state of emergency in effect until 70 percent of the city’s residents are fully vaccinated or the city returns to a low transmission rate as determined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“While I know we all wish and want this pandemic to simply go away, the reality is that we are in the mist of another spike,” O’Connor said.
Frederick County’s seven-day rolling positivity rate as of Wednesday was 6.73 percent, well above the state rate of 4.93 percent
The county has 21,213 confirmed cases, an increase of 62 cases from the day before, according to information from the Frederick County Health Department.
There were 30 people hospitalized in the county, including seven in intensive care.
Frederick County has had 340 confirmed deaths from the virus.
As of Wednesday, 151,773 county residents had gotten their first dose of the vaccine, including 201 in the past 24 hours, as well as 140,120 with two doses and 16,559 who’ve gotten the single dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Altogether, 60 percent of Frederick’s total population is fully vaccinated.
The continuation of the emergency will mean further extensions of due dates for water bills and other bills, waiving of interest accruals and the extension of various licensing and certification renewals, among other things.
But the expiration of the state’s state of emergency on Aug. 15 will lead to some changes.
The city’s pop-up dining options, including parklets and expanded options for food trucks, will end on Sept. 14.
Meanwhile, a moratorium on rental increases will end in mid-February 2022, while the extension of several planning and permitting approvals will end in August 2022.
O’Connor said masks and a health screening are required for employees and anyone else entering city facilities.
With the Food and Drug Administration’s full approval of the Pfizer vaccine this week, O’Connor urged residents to get vaccinated if they haven’t already done so.
“We need more residents to wear masks, and we need more residents and employees to get vaccinated,” O’Connor said. “It really is that simple. That is the answer to the pandemic.”
But there are no plans to require city employees to get vaccinated, city spokeswoman Ashley Waters said Wednesday.
O’Connor said that early in the pandemic no one thought they would be here in August 2021.
“When the Board of Aldermen voted last April to extend the city’s state of emergency without limit, my pledge at the time was that I would look at what and how the state was doing and was unlikely to deviate substantially,” O’Connor said. “At the time, my hope was that it would be obvious, when the emergency declaration was lifted, that the pandemic was in the past. Though the worst likely is, Frederick County is at a high transmission level right now, as is much of the state.”