Outdoor activities allowed, schools closed for remainder of year in Maryland

Larry Hogan

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Marylanders will get some relief from quarantine, starting at 7 a.m. Thursday.

Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday afternoon that because of progress made in the battle against COVID-19, some outdoor activities will be allowed. These include fishing, boating, golf, tennis and camping.

Parks and beaches will also be open for walking and other exercise, at the discretion of local authorities. “We’re making great progress” toward reopening the state’s economy, Gov. Hogan said.

Citizens are still asked to follow public health guidance and continue to practice physical distancing.

But students who may have realized in their recent idle time that they enjoy school might now be disappointed — State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon said, “Today, I am announcing the closure of schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 academic school year.”

Online and distance learning will continue, and the Maryland State Department of Education is issuing its “Maryland Together: Recovery Plan for Education,” a comprehensive plan for long-term recovery.

Recent steps

The progress comes after last week’s announcement of the governor’s Roadmap to Recovery plan, which specified progress needed in four areas before Phase I of the reopening plan begins. Wednesday’s steps came after the state had achieved increased testing, greater hospital surge capacity, provision of more personal protective equipment (PPE), and begun building a robust contact tracing operation.

Testing has been more widespread across the state, with 2,300 conducted in Salisbury over the weekend of poultry-industry workers. Maryland continues to cooperate, the governor said, with administrations in Delaware and Virginia to protect the region’s poultry industry.

Surge capacity in Maryland has increased by 8,300 beds, exceeding the initial goal of 6,000. Easton Hospital has added a surge tent to meet a surge expected from poultry-industry workers and their families.

PPE supplies have increased, with 4.5 million K95 masks, 600,000 N95 masks, and 3.5 million pairs of surgical gloves available, in additional to other gear.

A tracing contract has been established with the National Opinion Research Center, which will quadruple the state’s ability to track the course of infections. Several hundred applications have been received in 20 of the state’s 24 jurisdictions from workers willing to join the effort.

Encouraging numbers

As these arrangements were made, the pandemic’s effects appeared to be stabilizing.

“Fortunately, we are beginning to see those encouraging numbers,” Gov. Hogan said. “If these trends continue into next week, we will be ready to lift the stay-at-home order and to begin Phase I of our recovery plan.”

That would mean the reopening of some businesses and activities. Immediately, he said, elective surgeries are being allowed.

“I realize that these are only small steps, and that they may be of little comfort to those who are out of work and struggling. But it is thanks to all of you and your incredible sacrifices that we are making great progress,” Gov. Hogan said. “We are indeed flattening the curve and we are preparing to launch our reopening plan in order to safely get people back to work, to safely get our small businesses back open again, and to get our economy back on track, so that Maryland, and our nation, can defeat this virus and come back stronger and better than ever.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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