Maryland’s law enforcement agencies will ramp-up COVID-related compliance checks ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday to make sure that state and local restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of the virus are followed, Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday.
“Today we are announcing that in addition to our traditional statewide efforts ramping up drunk driving patrols and enforcement ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, we are also launching a wide-scale, all-hands-on-deck compliance, education, and enforcement operation,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
Hogan added: “The Maryland State Police is expanding its COVID-19 compliance and coordination center and deploying high-visibility compliance units across the state. Additional state troopers will be assigned in every single county to work in partnership with county leaders, county health departments, liquor boards, licensing and permitting departments as well as municipal and county law enforcement agencies to investigate any reports of violations of state law.”
Hogan said that effective Thanksgiving Eve (Wednesday evening) the patrols will primarily be assigned to high-density areas such as Baltimore City and Silver Spring. Thanksgiving Eve is normally associated with young adults crowding bars and restaurants.
Hogan said that effective today the Maryland State Police will set up a 24-hour phone and email response center to address questions about applicable regulations and handle complaints about possible violations of state law.
Hogan said that effective 5 p.m. Wednesday the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will send an emergency alert to every cell phone in the state that will provide information about COVID prevention measures and notify the public about enforcement operations.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski warned that those who violate COVID restrictions in his area of the state will be caught and punished.
“We will continue to use the full authority granted to us by Governor Hogan’s executive orders and to us by our county charter to protect our residents…These rules are in place to save lives. If you are found violating them you will be held accountable. We will not allow reckless behavior to continue without consequences. This is a matter of life and death.”
There are 183,797 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Monday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 4,293 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 6.88%, which is well above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 4.1 million COVID-19 tests.
The U.S. reported more than 142,000 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. In many states, hospitals are at or near-patient capacity limits.