PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS TIGHTENED: Maryland tightened pandemic-related restrictions Tuesday for the second time this month as coronavirus cases across the greater Washington region have set new highs each day for two weeks, Ovetta Wiggins, Rebecca Tan and Julie Zauzmer of the Post reports.
- Gov. Larry Hogan ordered an early closing time for Maryland’s bars, banned fans from stadiums and set new limits on hospitals and nursing homes in hopes of slowing a troubling wave of coronavirus cases, Pamela Wood and Alison Knezevich of the Sun report. As he announced the new rules, which go into effect at 5 p.m. Friday, the Republican governor pleaded with Marylanders not to let their guard down.
- Hogan announced the changes, which include limiting nursing home visits and a plan to move some patients from crowded hospitals around the state, as Maryland posted a second day of new cases in excess of 2,000 and saw hospitalizations surge to levels not seen since early June, reports Bryan Sears for the Daily Record.
- The Maryland Department of Health is also issuing new guidelines for hospitals and other medical facilities to avoid admitting patients for elective procedures that are not “life-saving,” particularly if they would require use of ventilators or admission to intensive care units, Ethan McLeod of the Baltimore Business Journal reports.
- To help combat exposure in nursing homes, the state is doubling the number of Rapid Response Teams to supplement staffing needs. Under the new Health Department order, all nursing home staff will be required to be tested twice-a-week, beginning Friday, WMAR-TV reports.
2,149 NEW CASES; 26 PEOPLE DIE: Maryland reported 2,149 new coronavirus cases Tuesday, the second-highest daily total during the pandemic, and 26 deaths tied to COVID-19, the most reported in a single day since June, Ben Leonard of the Sun reports.
- The health department announced the coronavirus-related death of another Carroll countian and 65 new positive tests Tuesday afternoon, shortly after Gov. Larry Hogan outlined new statewide restrictions designed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including some that will affect Carroll Hospital, Bob Blubaugh of the Carroll County Times reports.
W. MD HOSPITALS HIT CAPACITY: Teresa McMinn of the Cumberland Times-News reports that Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that as Allegany and Garrett counties lead the state in COVID-19 cases, Western Maryland hospitals have reached their capacity limit. “We are very concerned,” he said. “We’re seeing problems everywhere but our absolute worst are in those rural areas, particularly in Allegany and Garrett County.”
SMALL BIZ GROUP CRITICIZES RESTRICTIONS: The leader of one of Maryland’s key small business advocacy groups criticized a Tuesday decision by Gov. Larry Hogan to impose new restrictions on bars and restaurants and small businesses in response to the rising number of coronavirus cases in the state, reports Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter. “This is a very sad for Maryland small businesses,” National Federation of Independent Business state chair Mike O’Halloran said in a statement.
STATE WORKERS DEMAND SAFER CONDITIONS: State employees caravanned across Maryland on Tuesday to call for safer working conditions as COVID-19 surges around the state. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Maryland Council 3 put on the demonstration, which made stops in Salisbury, Annapolis, Baltimore, Skyesville, Hagerstown and Frostburg, Madeleine O’Neill of the USA Today Network reports.
- Last week, in response to the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered all state employees who can telework to do so.However, the Maryland branch of AFSCME, the state’s largest employee union, says the governor’s announcement did not change the number of employees teleworking at state agencies or lead to changes that would allow them to more easily telework, Rachel Baye of WYPR-FM reports.
MAKING IT EASIER TO MOVE PATIENTS AMONG HOSPITALS: With the load of coronavirus patients rising and some hospitals reaching capacity, Maryland officials plan to ramp up a program that makes it easier to move patients among hospitals. Hospitals already had been moving patients among their own systems, but typically only refer a patient to an outside hospital when they do not have the expertise for a specific treatment, Meredith Cohn and Pamela Wood of the Sun report.
HOGAN ISSUES TRAVEL ADVISORY: Gov. Larry Hogan announced a travel advisory last week “strongly recommend[ing]” Marylanders avoid non-essential travel out of Maryland to states with high COVID-19 positivity or case rates. The states that fall under the Maryland Department of Health’s advisory all have case rates of above 20 per 100,000 people over the past seven days or a testing positivity rate above 10%, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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OPINION: HOGAN’s TOUGH TALK IS JUST TALK: In a column for the Sun, media critic David Zurawik opines that Gov. Hogan on Tuesday said, “I’m a straight shooter, so let me give it to you straight,” before launching into the statistics showing what a huge spike of infections Maryland is now riding. But his tough words were at odds with some of his actions the last few months when he lifted restrictions and catered to those who were complaining about the very real economic pain that rules on restaurants, bars and other businesses were causing to the economy.
CLIMATE ACTIVISTS SEEK STRONGER PLAN: As Maryland seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, some lawmakers and advocates contend that the state will be especially vulnerable to warmer weather, sunny-day flooding, and sea-level rise along the Eastern Shore if the state does not adopt a more ambitious climate change plan, Elizabeth Shwe of Maryland Matters reports.
FRANCHOT READIES CAMPAIGN FOR GOVERNOR: Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has been honing the elevator speech he will use in his 2022 campaign for governor — and he is eager for people to hear it, Bruce DePuyt of Maryland Matters writes. He wanted to read it before taking questions from DePuyt.
CARROLL BOARD PONDERS FURTHER COVID RELIEF SPENDING: With COVID-19 case rates rising across Maryland, Carroll County’s Board of Commissioners discussed relief fund efforts through the end of the year at its most recent meeting. Earlier this year, Carroll received $14.6 million in coronavirus relief funding and must spend the money by Dec. 30. So far, the county has spent $11 million and “has a solid plan for spending the other 3.7 million,” according to county officials, Penelope Blackwell of the Carroll County Times reports.
MO CO BLASTS STATE CHILD-CARE RATIO: With less than two weeks left until the state requires child care programs to decrease child-to-teacher ratios down to 10 to 1, Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich is challenging a decision to reject a waiver request, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports. The county currently allows up to 15 people in a child care program classroom for 3- and 4-year-olds. The child-to-teacher ratio is allowed at a maximum of 14 to 1, Briana Adhikusuma of Bethesda Beat reports.
HOSTILITY PROMPTS ARUNDEL TO ALTER HEALTH INSPECTIONS: Reports of hostility toward Anne Arundel County Health Department inspectors have prompted officials to reconsider their approach — not sending women inspectors out alone and temporarily ceasing evening and high-risk daytime enforcement of cornavirus restrictions, Olivia Sanchez of the Capital Gazette reports.
MO CO COUNCILMEN PUSH TO REMOVE COPS FROM SCHOOLS: Two Montgomery County councilmen are again pushing to remove police officers from public high schools, marking the latest chapter in the suburb’s debate over racial equity and school safety, Rebecca Tan of the Post is reporting.