Larry Hogan

Hogan reimposes limits  because of surge in cases

(Nov. 13, 2020) After a week of seeing well over 1,000 new coronavirus cases in Maryland a day, Gov. Larry Hogan tightened restrictions this week on restaurants, bars and social gatherings. 

Effective Thursday, crowd capacities for indoor restaurants and bars decreased from 75 percent to 50 percent. The Maryland Department of Health issued a warning against indoor gatherings of 25 people or more and against travel to states with a positivity rate of above 10 percent or an average case rate above 20 per 100,000. 

Government offices will return to teleworking where it’s possible. 

Health officials also issued an emergency order to expand hospital surge capacity. 

“Last week, I said the warning lights were starting to blink on the dashboard and it appeared we were approaching a critical point in the fight,” Hogan said. “Today, I am reporting that we have crossed over into the danger zone.” 

The decrease in restaurant and bar capacity may be merely symbolic, as most restaurants could not expand to 75 percent and social distance all tables. 

Nevertheless, Hogan criticized businesses and residents that have given in to “covid fatigue” and become lax on safety precautions. He added that small gatherings and indoor dining continue to be some of the highest-risk activities. 

“It’s easy to feel comfortable thinking that just because you haven’t engaged in some of the activities that we typically think of as high risk that it’s enough to keep us safe,” Hogan said. “The reality is, you can just as easily get the virus by hosting a group of friends to watch football on Sunday or celebrating a family birthday or a Thanksgiving holiday that’s fast approaching.” 

Hospitalizations and intensive care unit numbers as of midweek were at 761 and 176, respectively, both the highest since June. 

As of Tuesday, Maryland’s seven-day positivity rate was at 5.6 percent, an increase from last week and the first time Maryland has broken through 5 percent range since June. 

Worcester County’s positivity rate sits at 4.37 percent. 

Since last Friday, at least 53 new cases have been confirmed in the county, according to the Worcester County Health Department. Last week, 34 new cases were confirmed.

This brings the county’s total cases since March to 1,311 as of Thursday.

Thirty-one coronavirus-related deaths have been reported in Worcester, with 18 of them at the Berlin Nursing Home. 

As of Thursday, the state had 159,900 cases. In this area, 403 cases have now been reported in the Berlin and Ocean Pines 21811 zip code area, 418 cases were listed for the Ocean City 21842 zip code, 125 in the Snow Hill 21863 zip code and 421 in the Pocomoke City 21851 zip code.

A zip code must have at least eight cases to be listed.

A total of 1,156 people have been released from public monitoring. Worcester has conducted 31,259 coronavirus tests.

As of Wednesday afternoon, six patients with coronavirus were in Atlantic General Hospital – three in the medical/surgical unit and three in the intensive care unit, according to Toni Keiser, vice president of public relations at the hospital.

Hospital staff have cared for six patients who have come off a ventilator. Atlantic General has discharged 76 patients with coronavirus who are recovering.

As of Thursday, next door Wicomico had 2,776 cases, and Sussex County in Delaware has 8,700 cases as of Wednesday.

The county health department has a free testing site in Pocomoke City on Walnut Street. The testing is for adults at least 18 years old and ID is required.

The Ocean City convention center on 40th Street had testing in the second half of the summer and there are no concrete plans to hold more at that location. 

There was also testing at the West Ocean City Park & Ride, but that has closed as well.

Testing is available for Worcester County residents only at the Pocomoke location on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

To schedule an appointment, call 410-632-1100, ext. 1119.

People who suspect they may have the virus should call their primary care providers or the health department.

The Worcester County Health Department has a hotline Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to determine if a person should be tested. Call 410-632-1100 and select option eight.

For general information on the coronavirus call the health department 24/7 at 410-632-4321 or visit worcesterhealth.org. View updates from Atlantic General at atlanticgeneral.org/patients-visitors/covid-19-updates/.

To track Maryland cases, visit coronavirus.maryland.gov/.

To report a restaurant or bar for not following safety guidelines, call the county environmental health department at 410-352-3234.

To donate plasma, go to delmarvablood.org/cpdonor or call 1-888-825-6638.

Elizabeth covers Worcester County issues for Ocean City Today. In 2018, she graduated from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa with a bachelor of arts. After graduation, Elizabeth spent a year with Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Wilmington, Delaware.

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