Gov. Hogan announces new restrictions

Submitted photo/MDDH
The graph above reveals Maryland’s recent rise in hospitalizations due to COVID-19.

ANNAPOLIS — With widespread community transmission across the state and surging COVID-19 metrics across the country, Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced immediate actions to prevent overburdening the state’s healthcare system and to keep more Marylanders from dying.

“We are in a war right now, and the virus is winning,” Gov. Hogan said. “Now more than ever, I am pleading with the people of our state to stand together a while longer to help us battle this surging virus. Your family and friends are counting on you, your neighbors are counting on you, and your fellow Marylanders are counting on you to stay ‘Maryland Strong.’”

Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief of shock trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center, also spoke at Tuesday’s press conference.
In addition to today’s new actions, the governor announced that he will participate in a call on Thursday with President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team.
New actions
The governor has issued an emergency order that takes the following actions—effective Friday, at 5 p.m.:
• 10 p.m. closure for bars and restaurants statewide — All bars, restaurants, and venues serving food and alcohol must close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for the purposes of carryout and delivery.

• Limited capacity for retail establishments and religious facilities — Capacity at retail establishments and religious facilities will be reduced to 50%, bringing them into line with indoor dining and personal services businesses, as well as bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller and ice skating rinks, fitness centers, and social and fraternal clubs.
• No fans for racetracks and stadiums — No fans will be permitted at racetracks or professional and collegiate stadiums across the state. Businesses with questions about today’s orders should contact Commerce.Secretary@maryland.gov.
• Hospital visitation prohibited until further notice — State health officials have issued an emergency order to prohibit all hospital visitation until further notice with some exceptions — including end-of-life care, obstetrics, parents or guardians of minors, and support for people with disabilities.

• New hospital surge management order — State health officials have issued an emergency order allowing hospitals that are either full or nearing capacity limits to transfer patients to hospitals that are equipped to provide them with the care they need. This will help alleviate the overcrowded hospitals in some areas of the state, and place patients in hospitals where beds are available.
• Guidance on elective procedures. State health officials have issued guidance warning hospitals and other medical facilities to avoid any elective procedure admissions that are not urgent or life-saving—especially if they are likely to require prolonged artificial ventilation, ICU admissions, or may have a high probability of requiring post-hospital care in a skilled nursing facility.
• New limitations on nursing home visitation — Until further notice, indoor visitation at Maryland nursing homes will generally be limited to compassionate care, and all visitors must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to their visit.

• Nursing home testing surge — State health officials have issued an order instituting mandatory twice-weekly testing for all staff at Maryland nursing homes, as well as mandatory weekly testing for all nursing home residents, effective no later than Friday.
• More rapid response teams for hotspots and outbreaks — To tackle acute outbreaks, Governor Hogan is doubling the number of rapid response teams deployed to provide an extra level of triage and supplement local staffing needs.
The recent rise in cases had already resulted in moves at the local level. The surge has affected Maryland’s rural counties hard, with Dorchester and Western Maryland’s Garrett counties being among the state’s leaders in percentage of positive cases. There have been 15 deaths in Dorchester County during the pandemic, with 918 cases diagnosed so far.

Cases and confirmed deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Health on Tuesday, were: In Wicomico County, 2,956/56, with 1,377/31 in Worcester, 575/8 in Somerset, 823/9 in Caroline, 937/26 in Queen Anne’s, 376/24 in Kent, 1,669/36 in Cecil, and 719/7 in Talbot.
Educators announced on Tuesday that Wicomico County Public Schools will return to all virtual learning until after the winter break, supporting the health and safety of students, staff and families while providing robust, consistent virtual instruction.
Superintendent of Schools Dr. Donna C. Hanlin presented her recommendation during a virtual special meeting of the Board of Education. The Board unanimously approved the plan to temporarily roll back in-person hybrid learning starting at the end of the day Nov. 17 and return to all virtual learning through Dec. 18.

Administrators hopes that with improved health metrics on COVID-19 in Wicomico County, in-person hybrid learning will resume the week of Jan. 4, 2021 for students in Prekindergarten through Grade 8, and the week of Feb. 2, 2021 for high school students.
In Dorchester, schools had returned to limited in-person instruction, but on Oct. 27 returned to online instruction, as the positivity rate there hit 6.1%, third-highest in the state.


Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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