Governor Larry Hogan today held a press conference to provide an update on Maryland’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and expand public health advisories in the state.
Governor Hogan announced that while Maryland has not been identified as one of the 21 ‘red zone’ states due to increasing virus diagnoses per capita, the state is at a “fork in the road” in terms of managing the virus’ ongoing spread.
According to Governor Hogan, the statewide positivity rate rose to 4.77% today, but is still under the CDC/WHO goal of below 5%, and has been for 34 days. However, Johns Hopkins University’s coronavirus research center places Maryland’s seven-day rolling positivity rate at 5.76%.
There has been an increase in hospitalizations in Maryland, as such, Hogan explained, the state will pause further reopenings until it is safe. Based on recent interviews with COVID-19 patients by contact tracers, working outside of the home, retail shopping, and indoor/outdoor dining are considered higher-risk locations. Hogan advised that telework must continue and employers should give employees every opportunity to telework.
The Maryland Health Department issued a travel advisory in which Marylanders should avoid travel to states with positivity rates of 10% or higher. This public health advisory applies to any form of travel. Hogan also announced the expansion of the face covering order, saying face coverings will be required in the public spaces of all businesses across the state and in outdoor public areas where distancing is not possible.
Hogan also announced that Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips is retiring and will be succeeded by Dr. Jinlene Chan, who is the current Assistant Health Secretary and the leader of testing efforts in Maryland.