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Here's Where Masks and Vaccines Are Required or Recommended in the DC Area

NBC Washington D.C. logo NBC Washington D.C. 8/24/2021 NBC Washington Staff
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What to Know

  • As the delta variant of the coronavirus spreads, localities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia, as well as the federal government, are considering new recommendations and mandates to curb the virus.
  • New CDC mask guidance says face coverings should be worn in areas "with substantial and high transmission" of COVID-19, which includes the D.C. area.
  • Many employers are pushing workers to get vaccinated, including the U.S. government.
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A troubling rise in COVID-19 cases and new information on the spread of the delta variant are prompting changes across the country on where face masks and vaccines are recommended and required. 

Federal health officials now recommend face masks indoors — including for people who are vaccinated — in parts of the country with high or substantial transmission of the virus, measured by new cases and positivity rates. Masks are recommended inside schools.

Here’s a city-by-city, county-by-county look at changes in the D.C. area. 

Where the CDC Recommends Masks in the DC Area

The CDC recommends masks in D.C. and most of Maryland and Virginia.

The CDC’s color-coded system designates jurisdictions as having low (blue), moderate (yellow), substantial (orange) or high (red) community transmission. Masks are recommended indoors, even for people who are vaccinated, in places with substantial or high transmission. 

Here are the designations: 

Go here to see the full CDC map.

Vaccine Guidance for Federal Workers and Military Members

The nation's millions of federal workers will be required to verify they've been vaccinated against the coronavirus or else face mandatory masking, weekly testing, distancing and other new rules, the Biden administration announced.

The Pentagon will require members of the U.S. military to get the COVID-19 vaccine by Sept. 15, according to a memo obtained by The Associated Press.

Mask and Vaccine Guidance in Washington, DC

Masks are required indoors in D.C. for all people over age 2 as of July 31, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced at a news conference.

The CDC says D.C. has "high" community transmission.

All employees, contractors, interns and grantees much be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Sept. 19 or submit negative virus tests weekly, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Tuesday.

The District will allow exemptions for medical or religious reasons.

“Failure to comply will lead to adverse employment actions,” Bowser’s guidance said.

D.C. strongly encourages vaccinations for all eligible residents.

“If you are eligible to be vaccinated, we strongly encourage you to do so immediately to minimize the risk of disease, hospitalization, or death,” Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said in a statement. 

Unvaccinated residents can now call DC Health to request a shot at home. This option was first available to homebound residents but has since expanded. To request a home appointment call (855) 363-0333.

D.C. Public Schools: Masks will be required this fall. 

Smithsonian Museums: The Smithsonian requires all visitors over age 2 to wear masks in indoor spaces and museums, regardless of whether they are vaccinated. Ten Smithsonian museums plus the National Zoo are open to the public in D.C.

Mask and Vaccine Guidance in Maryland

State Workers: Certain state workers must get vaccinated by Sept. 1 or agree to strict face covering and testing procedures, Gov. Larry Hogan said. See the order here. That includes workers in 48 state facilities including juvenile detention centers, health care facilities, correctional facilities and at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home.

Anne Arundel County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Friday. Masks are required in county-owned buildings, including libraries.

All Anne Arundel County employees will need to show proof of a COVID-19 vaccine or take weekly tests before coming to work starting next month, County Executive Steuart Pittman announced.

Charles County: An indoor mask mandate will take effect Friday, Aug. 13 at 5 p.m. in Charles County. Anyone over the age of 5 should wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Charles County Public Schools will require masks at all schools, centers, buildings and facilities regardless of vaccination status. Masks are also required on CCPS transportation.

The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission, as of Friday. 

Frederick County: Masks will be required inside schools this fall. They will not be required outdoors but people who are not vaccinated are encouraged to wear them. 

Masks are recommended by the CDC due to "high" community transmission of COVID-19, as of Friday.

Gaithersburg: As of Aug. 2, anyone older than 2 years must wear a mask and physical distance at all times while in city facilities, regardless of vaccination status. Unvaccinated individuals are strongly encouraged to wear masks outdoors as well if physical distancing cannot be maintained.

Montgomery County: The Montgomery County Council unanimously passed a resolution reinstating an indoor mask mandate. With the county already seeing "substantial" level of community transmission, the order went into effect Aug. 7.

All public school teachers and staff in the county must get vaccinated or get tested for COVID-19 weekly, Montgomery County Public Schools announced Friday, Aug. 13.

Face masks will be required for students and staff inside public schools this fall, regardless of vaccination status. The school board said it endorsed the interim superintendent’s decision in order to protect students and staff. 

Prince George’s County: Amid "high" community transmission, the county has reinstituted an indoor public mask mandate. The mandate applies to everyone, regardless of vaccination status, over the age of 5.

All Prince George's County Public Schools employees must have the COVID-19 vaccine or submit to weekly testing, the school system said on Friday, Aug. 13.

Masks will be required for students, teachers and staff inside Prince George’s County Public Schools this fall. Schools CEO Monica Goldson said the vaccination rate among eligible students is still too low, at 50%. 

Prince George's County requires everyone to wear masks inside County government buildings as of Aug. 6.

The county is also drafting a policy that will require employees to get vaccinated or be regularly tested for COVID-19, Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Thursday.

Rockville: Face coverings are mandatory for all visitors to Rockville city facilities, as of Aug. 3. The requirement applies to all staff and visitors age 2 and older, whatever their vaccination status.

St. Mary’s County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission, as of Friday. 

Mask and Vaccine Guidance in Virginia

Virginia will require everyone inside K-12 schools to wear a mask as COVID-19 cases surge just as back-to-school season ramps up. Go here for more information.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam recommends that all Virginians wear masks where there is high risk of COVID-19. The governor did not set a requirement. Go here for more info.

Virginia will make third doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines available for moderately and severely immunocompromised Virginians. Anyone age 12 or older can find free vaccination clinics near them by visiting vaccinate.virginia.gov or calling 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1).

State Workers: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam announced that about 122,000 state employees will be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly negative test results, starting Sept. 1. Here's more information.

Alexandria: The City of Alexandria recommends vaccinations and masks indoors as officials track substantial community transmission of the virus. 

Alexandria City Public Schools said all teachers and staff must be fully vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing. Masks will be required for everyone inside facilities and in ACPS vehicles, regardless of whether they are vaccinated.

Arlington: County government employees and Arlington Public Schools staff must submit proof of vaccination to their employer or agree to take a COVID-19 test weekly starting Aug. 30, the county announced.

Arlington Public Schools will require all students and staff to wear masks when they return to the classroom this fall — regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status. Students and teachers don't have to wear masks while eating lunch or outside.

The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Friday. 

Clarke County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission, as of Friday. 

Culpeper County: Masks are required in schools as of Aug. 13 after the state implemented a mandate for schools.

The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission, as of Friday.

Fairfax County: All teachers and staff at Fairfax County Public Schools must be fully vaccinated or get tested weekly for COVID-19, the school district announced Friday, Aug. 20.

Fairfax County Public Schools will require masks for everyone inside schools whenever students are present, regardless of vaccination status. Masks will not be required outdoors.

The county health department has recommended that everyone, including individuals fully vaccinated against COVID-19, wear a mask in public indoor settings. The county health department also covers Fairfax, Falls Church, Clifton, Herndon and Vienna.

Fairfax County officials took a step toward requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for most county workers. The vaccination mandate would be one of the first of its kind in the D.C. area. 

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted in support of requiring all county employees to be fully vaccinated before returning to in-person work. The decision affecting more than 12,000 county workers is ultimately up to the county executive. Go here for more info

Fairfax County businesses and organizations can now request to host a county health vaccination team to come out and provide COVID vaccines or outreach services. Go here for more info.

Wolf Trap said it's requiring all of its patrons show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test upon entry into the music venue.

Fauquier County: As of Monday, Aug. 23, the county school system requires that all students wear face masks or get a doctor's note to be medically exempted from the policy.

Hundreds of students were told to quarantine after COVID-19 outbreak within the first two weeks of the school year. Fauquier County Public Schools gave student the option of wearing a mask when school started on Aug. 11.

In an emergency meeting the afternoon of Friday, Aug. 13, Fauquier County’s school board and superintendent agreed to comply with the state's mandate for all students to wear masks.

Fredericksburg: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission. 

Frederick County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission.

Loudoun County: Masks will be required in Loudoun County Public Schools, the superintendent announced Aug. 2. They will be required regardless of vaccination status but will not be required while outdoors, eating or participating in physical education. 

The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "substantial" community transmission. 

Page County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission. 

Prince William County: Masks will be required in schools regardless of vaccination status, the school district announced Aug. 2. There are a few exceptions, a chart showed. 

The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission. 

Rappahannock County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission. 

Spotsylvania County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission. 

Stafford County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid "high" community transmission. 

Masks are required inside schools and on school buses through at least Sept. 21.

Warren County: The CDC recommends masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status, amid “high” community transmission.

COVID-19 Case and Hospitalization Data in DC, Maryland, Virginia

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases has been climbing since the beginning of July.

Cases have increased about tenfold in Maryland and D.C. and about eightfold in Virginia between July 7 and Aug. 7, 2021, data shows.

COVID-19 Hospitalizations in DC, Maryland, Virginia

Hospitalizations have also been increasing in the D.C. area for weeks.

This month alone, hospitalizations have risen nearly 130% in D.C., about 75% in Virginia and 56% in Maryland.

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