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4.25.20 – WBAL

Maryland could begin recovery as early as May if coronavirus numbers continue to plateau, Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday afternoon while announcing the state’s recovery plan.

This is not flipping a switch, the governor warned, but rather a detailed plan on how the administration thinks the state can reopen safely once the numbers are right.

“We are hopeful because we are starting to see some plateauing and the numbers starting to round off, and we haven’t formed those spikes seen in other places, so that’s encouraging, but they’re not where they need to be,” Hogan said.

“We all want the state to reopen as quickly as it can, but it’s clear that if we open the state today, we would risk fast acceleration in the epidemic to very high numbers,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Hogan said the state has worked over the past several weeks in consultation with scientists and public health experts to develop a safe, effective and gradual roadmap to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am hopeful that if Marylanders continue staying home and practicing physical distancing just a little bit more, and numbers continue to plateau, we could begin the recovery in early May,” Hogan said.

A sustained, 14-day decline in coronavirus hospitalizations and ICU admissions is needed before any stage of the recovery plan can begin.

The governor said the number of new coronavirus cases is still rising in Maryland and throughout national capital region, so by federal standards and guidance in multiple reopening plans, Maryland is not yet able to lift restrictions.

“It breaks my heart to see so many Marylanders struggling and going through so much economic pain,” Hogan said. “So let me be very clear: Other than keeping Marylanders safe, saving lives and defeating this hidden enemy, there is absolutely nothing more important to me than getting people back to work, getting our small businesses reopened and getting our economy back on track.”

Watch the governor’s press conference in its entirety:

The recovery plan has four essential building blocks, Hogan said, that must happen to reopen the state: expanded testing, increased hospital surge capacity, increased supply of personal protective equipment and a robust contact-tracing operation.

“As we begin to reopen, it will be important for Marylanders, particularly the older and more vulnerable, to stay at home. They should continue to avoid crowds, practice physical distancing, and take precautions to protect themselves, their families, and fellow Marylanders,” Hogan said.

When the state arrives at the point to where restrictions can be eased, the state’s economy will be restarted in three steps with low-risk businesses reopening first, followed by medium-risk and then high-risk.


|| See the recovery plan ||

STAGE ONE would lift the stay-home order, reopen many small businesses and resume lower-risk community activities, which could include reopening of golf courses, return of recreational boating and fishing and allowing elective outpatient surgeries.

The risk level is determined by the ability to use masks and maintain physical distancing during interactions with customers and among the work force.

Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:

  • Reopening of small shops and certain small businesses
  • Curbside pickup and drop-off for businesses
  • Elective medical and dental procedures at ambulatory, outpatient, and medical offices
  • Limited attendance outdoor religious gatherings
  • Recreational boating, fishing, golf, tennis, hiking, and hunting
  • Reopening of car washes
  • Limited outdoor gym and fitness classes
  • Outdoor work with appropriate distancing measures
  • Some personal services

Local governments could have additional flexibility to open further things, like local parks and playgrounds, municipal recreation centers and libraries if appropriate safety protocols could be followed, the governor said.

STAGE TWO would begin if stage one activities resume without a spike in deaths, a sustained spike in ICU cases, or significant outbreaks of community transmission. Stage two would include more businesses reopening, nonessential workers who cannot telework returning to work.

Stage two would include resumption of indoor religious gatherings with limited capacity, raising limits on social gatherings, return to normal transit schedules, opening restaurants and bars with significant safety restrictions, the governor said.

Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:

  • Raising the cap on social gatherings
  • Indoor gyms and fitness classes
  • Childcare centers
  • Normal transit schedules
  • Indoor religious gatherings
  • Reopening of restaurants and bars with restrictions
  • Elective and outpatient procedures at hospitals

STAGE THREE involves reinstituting higher-risk activities, including larger social gatherings, opening of high-capacity bars and restaurants, lessened restrictions on visits to nursing homes/hospitals, entertainment venues, larger religious gatherings.

Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:

  • Larger social gatherings
  • Reopening of high-capacity bars and restaurants
  • Lessened restrictions on visits to nursing homes and hospitals
  • Reopening of entertainment venues
  • Larger religious gatherings

As of Friday, Maryland is on day three of the baseline metrics declining, so could Friday could be day three of a possible 14-day decline, the governor said, but then cautioned it’s is a dynamic process that changes every day.

“Each of these recovery stages will need to be instituted in a safe, gradual and effective manner. If we try to rush this, and if we don’t do it in a thoughtful and responsible way, it could cause a rebound of the virus, which could deepen the economic crisis, prolong fiscal problems and slow our economic recovery,” Hogan said.

When it comes to schools, gubernatorial spokesman Mike Ricci said the roadmap states that the governor will continue consulting with the state schools superintendent, as well as local superintendents, to evaluate the safe use of educational and child care facilities. It’s not part of any particular stage.

Impact on Restaurants: Business hasn’t been the same with restaurants, like Wicked Sisters in Hampden, having to serve curbside.

“The adjustments have been every week. Something different comes up,” Wicked Sisters’ general manager, Justin Lehman, said. “It’s a whole change in the restaurant culture and just how everything’s done.”

The statewide fight against the spread of the coronavirus heads into its eighth week.

While Hogan’s plan is not yet ready to start, it gave a glimpse of what recovery could be in the state, some like Lehman hoping, in the coming weeks.

“You just have to hope for the best and that we all pull through and that this makes us stronger,” he said.

Regional Approach: The Roadmap contemplates offering some flexibility to health officers of county and municipal governments, and considering regional differences in coronavirus conditions.

The governor is transitioning the Maryland Coronavirus Response Team of doctors and public health experts, which includes Johns Hopkins Dr. Tom Inglesby and former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, to create a new Coronavirus Recovery Team. The members will include:

  • Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford
  • Maryland Disabilities Secretary Carol Beatty
  • Dr. Wilbur Chen, chief of the Adult Clinical Studies, Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health, University of Maryland Medical System
  • Augie Chiasera, senior vice president and president of M&T Bank’s Baltimore and Chesapeake regions
  • Jim Davis, chairman and co-founder at Allegis Group
  • Ted Delbridge, director of the Institute for Maryland Emergency Medical Services System
  • Robert Doar, president of the American Enterprise Institute
  • Dr. Stephen Evans, chief medical officer at MedStar Health
  • Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
  • Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security
  • Maryland Aging Secretary Rona Kramer
  • Dr. John Loome, senior vice president of medical affairs at Genesis Healthcare
  • Dr. Lisa Maragakis, senior director of infection prevention at the Johns Hopkins Health System
  • Dr. David Marcozzi, assistant chief medical officer for acute care at the University of Maryland Medical System
  • Mark McManus, general president of the United Association
  • Maryland Health Secretary Robert Neall
  • Fran Phillips, deputy secretary for public health, Maryland Department of Health
  • Kevin Plank, founder and executive chairman of ‎Under Armour
  • Maryland State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon
  • Dr. Mitch Schwartz, chief medical officer and president of physician enterprise at Luminis Health
  • Maryland National Guard Retired Maj. Gen. Linda Singh, interim executive director and CEO at TEDCO
  • Arne Sorenson, president and CEO of Marriott International

The governor said he has directed the Maryland Department of Commerce to form advisory groups to develop recommendations and best practices for their industries to responsibly operate. Their recommendations will also be carefully reviewed by the Coronavirus Recovery Team.

The governor has established two advisory groups through the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives to get input during the recovery from religious groups and nonprofit organizations.


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READ THE FULL STORY:Hogan ‘hopeful’ Maryland could start coronavirus recovery plan as early as May

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