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by David M. Higgins II, Publisher
Annapolis, MD- On Wednesday, July 22, 2020, at 5 p.m., Maryland Governor Larry Hogan provided Marylanders with an update on Coronavirus/COVID-19 in the State of Maryland. The press conference also laid out updates on elections, testing facilities and supplies, Social Distancing in Restaurants and Bars, and finally with Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent for Schools, the “Guardrails” in the State’s Education Roadmap to Recovery.
Maryland currently has a seven-day positivity rate of 4/9%, an 83% drop since the peak on April 17, 2020. Maryland has remained under the 5% goal since at least June 18, 2020. There is a growing concern though, for Marylanders under the age of 35. While the peak positivity rate was near 30% and has dropped, it has now stayed steady at 6.5%+/- since the beginning of June.
“I want to make very clear to the people of Maryland again that this crisis is not over and your actions may help determine whether we see a resurgence of the virus here in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “As we have from the beginning, we will continue to follow the advice of our doctors and public health experts, and we will not hesitate to take statewide actions if and when we deem them to be necessary.”
Other benchmarks Maryland is closely following have remained low but have seen a slight uptick in the last week. Maryland has a total of 505 Acute/ICU beds in use. Acute beds in use stand at 368, while ICU beds are at 137. The benchmark of a minimum 10% testing in each county has been met by all except four counties; Hartford, Queen Annes, Cecil, and Calvert. Calvert has done the least amount of testing out of all counties at only 8% of the estimated 92,000 residents.
Governor Hogan announced that on July 22, Maryland surpassed 1 million tests and,” is consistently reporting 20,000 tests per day…” The Governor is concerned about the delays in testing across the country. During the press conference, he announced that the state’s new testing lab was operational. Hogan announced Maryland has 220 sites statewide, but many are seeing up to a 10-day delay in testing. The lab right now is equipped to test the Korean Coronavirus test kits Hogan purchased months ago. These tests are being used for the most serious cases and have a turnaround time of 24 hours.
The state is on track to have an adequate supply of tests through the end of November, in accordance with Maryland’s long-term testing strategy but is prepared to take additional actions, if necessary, in response to outbreaks, shortages, and delays in other states.
State health officials are closely monitoring spiking numbers in states across the region and states further south and west of Maryland’s borders. Marylanders should refrain from traveling to areas that are experiencing rapidly escalating numbers. Anyone who does travel out of state should immediately get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting test results.
The governor again reminded Marylanders that contact tracing is key to stopping the spread of COVID-19. Maryland’s contact tracing operation has increased by 440% since its launch in April. From June 11 to July 18, the state’s contact tracers consistently conducted outreach to more than 80% of confirmed COVID-19 cases within 24 hours of the case being entered into COVIDLink, Maryland’s state-of-the-art data management platform. Contact tracers have been successful in reaching nearly 75% percent of cases. Marylanders are encouraged to cooperate with the state’s contact tracing efforts by answering calls from ‘MD COVID,’ or (240)466-4888. Learn more about COVIDLink and contact tracing in Maryland here.
Finally, the Governor asked that Marylanders still keep wearing masks when social distancing is not able to be attained and that you are still safer at home. Employers are asked to still continue telework whenever possible.