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Maryland poised to roll out recovery plan, but numbers must first decline –

by Judith Hruz


Gov. Larry Hogan on April 24 said Maryland’s early and aggressive actions in trying to slow the spread of the coronavirus have paved the way for the creation of a well-thought-out, safe, effective and gradual roadmap to recovery.

He also said the state “is in the best position possible” to begin reopening because it has accomplished the four-pronged checklist that will allow it to move forward.

The state has exponentially expanded its testing capacity with the purchase of 500,000 test kits from South Korea, which the governor announced on April 20 that he acquired with the help of first lady Yumi Hogan, who was born there.

Maryland has exceeded its goals of handling hospital surge capacity, which the governor announced was accomplished with the re-opening of the newly named Laurel Medical Center.

The state also has increased the supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and its contact-tracing ability.

Hogan said that when the numbers of cases, hospitalizations and deaths begin decreasing for 14 days, according to federal guidelines, he can begin to roll out his recovery plan, “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.”

For now, those numbers continue to increase, he said, in part because of the ability to test more Marylanders.

But he said the state has not had the spike other states have had.

As of press time, Maryland was reporting 16,161 cases, with 723 deaths and 3,618 total hospitalizations.

Of those cases, 3,227 were in Montgomery County, which also had 135 confirmed deaths.

Also at press time, the state was reporting 1,108 people had been released from isolation.

Of all of the tests administered, 68,100 returned negative results.

As soon as the state meets the downward trends and other benchmarks, Hogan will begin to roll out his three-stage recovery plan.

The first stage includes lifting the stay-at-home order, reopening certain small businesses and allowing outdoor religious gatherings, outdoor fitness and gym classes, and some elective medical procedures. Local governments may be able to open parks and playgrounds, libraries and other facilities. All openings or gatherings must be done with logical physical distancing measures.

If measures allowed in the first stage do not result in significant spikes in the number of cases, deaths or hospitalizations, then the second stage could allow for larger numbers of businesses to reopen and other public activities to be held, such as indoor religious gatherings, more normal public transit schedules, and the reopening of bars and restaurants. But all openings would have to include significant safety measures and reductions in the number of patrons or participants.

The third stage would allow large social gatherings, the reopening of entertainment venues and more.

Hogan cautioned that trying to rush the recovery plan and not carrying out the plan in a “thoughtful and responsible way, could cause a rebound of the crisis.”

The governor stressed his desire to see businesses get back on track.

“The whole focus of my administration has been on growing the private sector,” he said, adding “it breaks my heart to see so many Marylanders struggling.”

He said that other than keeping Marylanders safe, “there is nothing more important than getting people back to work, getting small businesses reopened and getting our economy back on track.”

Dr. Tom Inglesby, director for the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, stressed the need to follow the guidelines. Reopening the state now, he said, would result in high numbers of confirmed cases of COVID-19.

He also said that the coronavirus will remain in the state and the country “until we get a vaccine,” adding the public’s efforts – such as wearing cloth masks and keeping physical space between each other – will continue to be important even when businesses, organizations and other activities begin to open.


Schools remain closed


State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon on April 17 announced that Maryland schools will stay closed through May 15.

Schools already had been closed for about a month to help stem the spread of COVID-19.

Maryland’s approximately 900,000 students are keeping up with classwork mostly through online learning.

Salmon had said county superintendents are working on creative ways to make sure 2020 graduates receive the recognition they deserve in lieu of traditional commencement ceremonies.


    For more on COVID-19, visit:

    State of Maryland, www.health.maryland.gov/coronavirus or www.govenor.maryland.gov/receovery

    Montgomery County, https://montgomerycountymd.gov/hhs/rightnav/coronavirus.html or call 311

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov

    National Institutes of Health, www.nih.gov

    World Health Organization, www.WHO.int

    Small Business Administration, www.sba.gov

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