MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — The Montgomery County Council had a COVID-19 briefing from the Department of Health and Human Services on Tuesday. The numbers were encouraging across almost all metrics.

Current numbers show that the case rate is high in the county; however, the test positivity rate is trending down at three point five percent. Falling in line with state data, hospitalizations continue to decrease.

Numbers must continue to go down across the board as the county approaches the deadlines for restrictions, such as the indoor mask mandate that expires on Feb. 21. However, officials warn that as restrictions are lifted, the responsibility to keep numbers down lies with residents. Dr. Earl Stoddard, Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, explained, “As we move forward, one of the big triggers, and we’ve talked about this throughout, is can our health care system maintain the burden of the disease, pandemic or endemic, that COVID-19 or any other illness creates while still maintaining a level of service to the community?”

One of the responsibilities officials discussed was getting vaccinated. Currently, 95% of the county’s residents have had their first dose of the vaccine. 84% of residents are fully vaccinated and 50% have gotten their booster shot.

Data throughout the nation shows that vaccination keeps more people out of the hospital. Dr. Stoddard said that keeping those numbers down is essential to keeping restrictions lifted. He explained, “If we see surges in the future that drive hospital volume and other impacts, that’s when we have to start to go back to some of the measures we’ve looked at before around masking and other restrictions, largely because the system cannot absorb a surge without there being collateral and other impacts to community health that result in lives lost.”

D.H.H.S. is planning to have outreach in the community to raise the number of boosted and vaccinated residents, including potentially holding more vaccination events in the future.