ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan held a COVID-19 press conference at the State House in Annapolis on Thursday afternoon.
The governor reported that the post-Thanksgiving surge of COVID-19 had not materialized in Maryland to the extent that public health officials predicted, and did not rise to the levels that it has in most other states.
Total hospitalizations decreased on Thursday by 60 – acute beds are down by 55, ICU beds are down by 5, and officials have experienced no percentage change in hospital admissions over the past 2 weeks.
“Our strongest defense against this virus continues to be the cooperation and the vigilance of the people of Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “Our message today is simple: you are safer at home for the holidays this year.”
The Maryland Department of Health has issued a public health advisory which lowers the gathering limit from 25 to 10 and advises Marylanders against all non-essential activities and holiday gatherings with people outside of their immediate household.
EXPANDED TRAVEL AND TESTING REQUIREMENTS
The governor has issued an emergency order that limits travel to essential purposes only. Marylanders who travel out-of-state or those who travel to Maryland must obtain a negative COVID-19 test or self-quarantine for 10 days.
For a list of testing locations, visit http://covidtest.maryland.gov.
SUSPENSION OF CUSTOMER-FACING OPERATIONS
The State of Maryland has instituted mandatory telework for state employees, and beginning Monday, December 21, the state will be temporarily suspending all in-person, customer-facing operations at state facilities for the next 2 weeks.
The governor encourages businesses that are able to also institute telework policies and to limit in-person interactions as much as possible.
SANTA CLAUS GRANTED EXEMPTION
The governor has issued a special emergency order that exempts Santa Claus, his elves, and his reindeer from any and all travel, testing, and quarantine requirements.
This special emergency order can be read here.
FEDERAL RELIEF PACKAGE
The governor commended Congress for finally reaching a bipartisan consensus on a federal COVID-19 relief package, but expressed disappointment that it appears to leave out support for state and local governments.
The governor announced an additional $180 million in immediate emergency economic relief to help those families and small businesses that are being hit the hardest.
$50 MILLION FOR HOTELS AND HOSPITALITY BUSINESSES
This sector was among the first to suffer and will be among the last to recover from this crisis. Funding will be distributed by locals for payroll expenses, rent, and utilities assistance.
$30 MILLION MORE FOR RESTAURANT RELIEF
State officials are providing another $30 million to add to the state’s relief program for restaurants, bringing that fund to $80 million, and pressing counties to immediately distribute this funding.
$15 MILLION MORE FOR ENTERTAINMENT VENUES
This funding will be provided through the successful main street program at the Maryland Department of Housing, bringing that total to $35 million.
$5 MILLION FOR RURAL BUSINESSES
As part of a new relief initiative, the state is providing another $5 million to help socially or economically disadvantaged businesses, specifically in rural counties.
$40 MILLION TO BOOST TEMPORARY CASH ASSISTANCE BENEFITS
The governor announced $40 million to provide a boost to the Temporary Cash Assistance (TCA) benefit over each of the next six months.
$40 MILLION TO DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY PROVIDERS
This funding will go toward accelerating a 4% increase to begin on January 1. More than 17,000 Marylanders benefit from these critical services.
STIMULUS PACKAGE IN 2021 SESSION
The governor pledged to propose a larger economic relief package when the General Assembly returns for the 2021 session.
Finally, Governor Hogan encouraged Marylanders to support local restaurants this holiday season by utilizing carry-out or delivery services, give to a local charity or food bank, and do their holiday shopping at local small businesses.