Mask re­quire­ments ex­panded, state ‘paused’ at Stage 2 of re­cov­ery

In­crease in COVID-19 hos­pi­tal­iza­tions prompted ac­tion

The Dundalk Eagle - - FRONT PAGE - By BILL GATES bgates@ches­pub.com

Gov. Larry Ho­gan an­nounced dur­ing a COVID-19 up­date press con­fer­ence last week that the state had hit a rough patch in the Roadmap to Re­cov­ery and thus was slow­ing down in or­der to be cau­tious.

Due to a re­cent in­crease in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions, Ho­gan said the state would be “paused” at Stage 2 in the “Roadmap to Re­cov­ery” plan.

An in­crease in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions is one of the “stop signs” built into the state’s Roadmap to Re­cov­ery that would pre­vent progress to­ward ad­vanc­ing to the next stage.

On July 10, 385 peo­ple were re­ported hos­pi­tal­ized due to COVID-19. By July 30, that num­ber had in­creased to 585.

“We find our­selves at a fork in the road — a crit­i­cal turn­ing point where we could ei­ther con­tinue mak­ing progress and con­tinue head­ing in the right di­rec­tion, or we could ig­nore the warn­ings and spike back up like much of the rest of the coun­try,” Ho­gan said.

“We are do­ing much bet­ter on our health met­rics than most of the rest of the coun­try and we are do­ing much bet­ter on our eco­nomic re­cov­ery than most of the rest of the coun­try, and we

want to do what it takes to keep it that way.”

To that end, Ho­gan ex­panded the statewide or­der for wear­ing face masks. Start­ing Fri­day, peo­ple are re­quired to wear masks or face cov­er­ings in the pub­lic spa­ces of all busi­nesses in the state.

Masks or face cov­er­ings are also re­quired in out­door pub­lic ar­eas where phys­i­cal dis­tanc­ing is not pos­si­ble.

The gov­er­nor also said he has di­rected the state Depart­ment of Health to is­sue a pub­lic health ad­vi­sory for out-of-state travel.

Mary­lan­ders are strongly ad­vised to not travel to states with pos­i­tiv­ity rates of 10 per­cent or higher, and to get tested upon re­turn­ing from those states and self­quar­an­tine un­til learn­ing the test re­sults.

As of Ho­gan’s an­nounce­ment, that ap­plied to Florida, Ge­or­gia, Texas, Louisiana, Ari­zona, Alabama, South Carolina, Ne­braska and Idaho.

Also dur­ing the up­date, Ho­gan dis­cussed in­fec­tion

pat­terns re­vealed in con­tact trac­ing.

Ac­cord­ing to the data, 44 per­cent of peo­ple who tested pos­i­tive had been at a fam­ily gath­er­ing; 54 per­cent had been work­ing out­side their home; and 25 per­cent worked in health care.

Other lo­ca­tions that were com­mon places vis­ited by those who tested pos­i­tive: in­door/re­tail shop­ping (39 per­cent); and in­door/out­door restau­rant din­ing (both at 23 per­cent).

Twenty-three per­cent of those in­fected had been at a house party, and 21 per­cent had at­tended an out­door event.

Also dur­ing the up­date, Fran Phillips, Deputy Sec­re­tary for the state Depart­ment of Health an­nounced her re­tire­ment.

Phillips has led the state’s pub­lic health re­sponse to the COVID-19 pan­demic.

Dr. Jin­lene Chen was in­tro­duced as the new Act­ing Deputy Sec­re­tary. She had been the Depart­ment of Health’s As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary and Chief Med­i­cal Of­fi­cer.

Gov. Larry Ho­gan spoke at a press con­fer­ence in An­napo­lis last week, an­nounc­ing that Mary­land will stay “paused” in Stage 2 af­ter a re­cent spike in hos­pi­tal­iza­tions due to COVID-19. The gov­er­nor also man­dated that masks are to be worn in the pub­lic spa­ces of all busi­nesses and in sit­u­a­tions where so­cial dis­tanc­ing is not pos­si­ble.

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