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By Alexis Taylor, Special to the AFRO
Baltimore County Executive John Olszews Jr. has declared another local state of emergency as the delta variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreads through his jurisdiction.
Olszewski’s initial declaration of a local state of emergency due to the pandemic was issued in March 2020 to combat novel coronavirus infections.
Barely eight weeks after the previously declared local state of emergency was called off on July 9, the county executive has once again sounded the alarm.
“Government has an obligation to do all we can to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our residents. While we’ve made undeniable progress in our fight against this deadly virus, the rapid emergence of the Delta variant has made it clear that we need access to every tool in our toolbox to be able to respond to it,” Olszewski said. “We remain committed to doing whatever is necessary to keep our residents as safe as possible and to ensure that when our children go back to school next week they can remain where they belong: inside the classroom.”
As the virus has mutated for even easier transmission between hosts, counties across the country are once again experiencing a fresh wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths.
According to coronavirus data from Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Baltimore County has had 18 deaths and 2,610 new infections in the last 28 days.
The new local state of emergency comes as “the 7-day case rate in Baltimore County has increased 376 percent,” according to Oszewki’s statement. This places Baltimore County “within the CDC’s ‘substantial’ transmission zone, 50-99 cases per 100,000 residents, as vaccination rates vary from community to community.”
Olszewski said that by declaring a new local state of emergency public health officials could get support to adapt to the changing playing field faster. The new order will also aid others as they request help from the state and federal government to mitigate the effects of the pandemic.
“Despite our best efforts to combat COVID-19 and vaccinate our residents, the continued spread of the Delta variant is deeply concerning and I applaud the County Executive’s leadership in declaring this local state of emergency,” Council Chairman Julian Jones said in the statement released by Olszewski’s office. “I am certain my colleagues will agree that we must take every step to protect our residents by ensuring our government has all the tools to protect the public’s health, and I will convene an emergency council meeting to extend the local state of emergency within the next week.”
The announcement comes mere days ahead of school reopenings set to happen next week in Baltimore County.
“As far as the school system goes it does not have any discernible impact on school operations,” said Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS) spokesman, Charles Herndon. “This was for the County Executive to make sure he has the flexibility to do what he needs to do as we continue to see case transmission rise.”
Herndon said that the state of emergency will not change the coronavirus protocols already set in place by BCPS.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine clinic, please visit baltimorecountymd.gov/vaccine or by contacting your local urgent care, pharmacy, or your primary care provider.
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