Coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths continue to rise as the state Monday reported fewer than 2,000 new infections for the first time in a week. Hogan, speaking in the rotunda of the State House, said the Maryland State Police will work with police, health departments, liquor boards and other local and municipal governments to help educate the public to follow orders to stunt the spread of coronavirus.
If necessary, Hogan said, officers will enforce the law.
“Following the public health directives is the only way that we will be able to stop this virus, to keep Maryland open for business, keep our hospitals from overflowing , which is why it’s absolutely critical that they must be followed,” said Hogan. “Businesses and individuals who blatantly violate public health orders and refuse to follow state law are not only willfully endangering themselves but their family. friends, and neighbors as well.”
The state police will work with officials in a “high visibility” effort of compliance checks, education and enforcement in places such as Towson, Baltimore city, Silver Spring and around the state. The state will also send a text message alert to cellphone owners around the state reminding them of public health orders as well as a television and radio public education campaign and a phone number and email account where complaints can be sent.
“The heightened visibility operation that we’re launching today isn’t just about enforcement but it’s about education on how to keep businesses safely open and to educate the public on how to stay safe and save lives,” said the governor.
Hogan said he and others are very concerned about the night before Thanksgiving, a time when college students come home and many go out to bars and catch up with friends and family.
“I cannot stress enough how reckless that behavior would be this year,” said Hogan, adding that 57% “of all complaints registered across the state have been about compliance issues at restaurants and bars and retail businesses.”
Last week, the governor ordered a reduction in capacity at bars and restaurants and ordered both to close to indoor service by 10 p.m. while still allowing for carryout. Hogan said action was needed even though he believes most businesses are acting appropriately and limited contract tracing responses point to private indoor gatherings as a key driver of the spread of COVID-19.
“We can’t let a few bad actors spoil it for the others who’ve been doing such a great job,” said Hogan.
Hogan praised Democratic Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. for similar efforts in his county, which was involved 7,000 business visits and several dozen citations.
“The situation is dire,” said Olszewski, adding that cases in his county have skyrocketed in recent weeks, including record cases for 19 straight days.
“Baltimore County’s problems are not unique to our jurisdiction. We see the same disturbing trends across the state from western Maryland to the Eastern Shore and everywhere in between.” said Olszewski.
That means now, more than ever, the governor is right. We have to take this virus seriously,” Olszewski said.
The Maryland Department of Health reported an additional 1,658 new infections on Monday morning. The state had previously reported 2,000 or more cases in each of the six previous days and now in seven of the last 10 days. Prior to that, Maryland had never reported 2,000 cases in a single day.
The decline also caused a small decrease in the rolling seven-day average of new cases to 2,306, a number that is 31% more than a week ago and 93% more than on Nov. 9.
It is also the 20th straight day of 1,000 or more new cases.
Deaths, a lagging indicator, increased by 14 to 4,293. Since Nov. 1, there have been 293 deaths and the state is on pace to record nearly 400 deaths this month, more than any month since June.
Overall hospitalizations remain below the peak rate of the pandemic, 1,711 on April 30. The number of acute patients is below the peak of 1,123 on April 30. The number of ICU patients is below the peak of 611 on May 10. These categories, however, have sharply increased since Sept 20.
Total hospitalizations increased by 39 to 1,276, the most since May 29. The state is at 75% of the peak total reached in the spring.
Total acute patients in the state increased by 18 people to 987. This is the most since May 10 and nearly 88% of the peak in April.
Total ICU patients decreased by 21 patients to 289. This is the 11th straight day above 200 and the most since June 15. The total number of ICU patients is nearly 48% of the May 10 peak.