CommunityCoronavirusCovid-19

Baltimore Mayor Defends Shutdown Order Amid Coronavirus Surge: ‘We’re on Fire’

On Friday, Maryland set another single-day hospitalization record and recorded another 2,616 COVID-19 cases and 51 new deaths.

Newly sworn-in Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott is joining local restaurant owners to talk about the importance of supporting small businesses during this crisis.

Soon after being sworn in earlier this week, Scott announced a number of mandates aimed at slowing the virus’s spread in the city, including a ban on indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and imposing 25% capacity restrictions at religious facilities, retail stores, malls and personal service establishments.

Those restrictions went into effect Friday evening.

During a news conference Friday morning, Scott asked Baltimoreans to order a meal from their favorite restaurant as a way of showing support. There is a running list of nearly 100 DMV restaurants that have had to close due to COVID-19 including Big Chefs, The Player’s Club, Mrs K’s Toll House, and Big Bowl.

“We have to wrap our arms around these businesses and their workers in every way possible right now, and I want them to know that we’re going to support them,” he said.

City leaders stressed any activity in which people remove their masks puts people at a higher risk of spreading the virus.

Scott said the decision to be stricter on the rules was not made without heavy deliberation.

“I want every single business owner, consumer and Baltimorean to know that these restrictions are for the health and safety of our community, period,” he said. “We are in a life-or-death situation — these decisions that we make today, no matter how tough they are, will determine whether community members will survive or not. That’s what this is about. This was not a popular decision, but it’s the right one.”

Health commissioner Dr. Letita Dzirasa said the city is seeing over 200 new cases per day, adding community transmission of the virus is widespread. The city’s hospitals are just about maxed out at 88% capacity with staff working mandated overtime hours.

“Half of the people who test positive for the virus do not have symptoms,” Dzirasa said. “There are many people right now who are moving around Baltimore City interacting with their friends and coworkers feeling fine but spreading the disease unknowingly.”

Officials also announced a new COVID-19 testing site opened Friday in northwest Baltimore. The new site at the Zeta Center on Reisterstown Road is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. People do not need an appointment or Doctors referral to be seen.

Due to the colder months ahead, the city plans to move some COVID-19 testing indoors.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday all of the state’s 23 counties, as well as Baltimore City, were in the “red zone” in terms of COVID-19 cases.

“Governor Hogan said yesterday that the state of Maryland is in red. No, we’re on fire when it comes to COVID, and we all have to understand that,” Scott said.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison announced that officers will be patrolling the city to enforce Scott’s executive order.

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