They urged Marylanders to continue taking precautions against the coronavirus.
Annapolis, Md (KM) The COVID-19 pandemic was on the minds of the leaders of Maryland’s largest jurisdictions. The Executives of Frederick, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Howard, Anne Arundel, Baltimore and Harford Counties, along with the Mayor of Baltimore City, held a virtual news conference on Wednesday afternoon to remind citizens not to ease up in fight against the coronavirus.
County Executive Jan Gardner had this message. “We’re trying to encourage everyone to cooperate and do their part to wear their face coverings, to avoid those gatherings and practice handwashing,” she said.
Like her fellow county executives, Gardner said her county has limited indoor and outdoor gatherings, reduced the capacity at gyms and fitness centers, and hired additional enforcement staff. She also said the county has instituted fines, but is trying to persuade everyone to comply.
“I’m trying to really encourage our businesses to institute telework at the level we had in the spring,”: says Gardner. “I think people have in the summer slowly gone back to work in the office even if they weren’t required to.”
Maryland has done better than most states regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, but this virus is now affecting the state in ways not experienced in the early days of the pandemic, according to Dr. Tom Ingelsby, the Director of the Center for Health Security at Johns Hopkins’ Bloomberg School of Public Health. He says the number of daily new cases has doubled, and the number of deaths has been rising in the last month “and shows no sign of slowing down,” he said.
County Executive Gardner said Frederick County has been monitoring its health metrics. “and we’ve certainly seen all of them move into the wrong direction, increasing case rates, positivity rates and hospitalizations.” She said the county saw its hospitalization rates increase by 25% in one day, which Gardner called “a big change.”
Even though a vaccine is on the horizon, the elected leaders citizens said residents must still continue to wearing their masks, practicing social distancing and washing their hands frequently.
“We are all in this together. I know there’s more decisions forthcoming. We are facing that big last final fight against the virus with the vaccine on the horizon,” says Gardner. “But we know that’s going to take months. We are looking to forward to beginning to vaccinate our health care workers beginning next week.”
During his Tuesday news conference, Governor Larry Hogan said if the vaccine from Pfizer is given emergency use authorization this week by the US Food and Drug Administration, vaccinations of health care workers, and residents and employees of long term care facilities could begin next week. That would be followed by first responders. He said it may not be until spring before the vaccine is available to the general public.
Maryland is expected to get 155,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.
By Kevin McManus