ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s number of daily confirmed coronavirus cases has reached its highest point since outset of the pandemic, but Gov. Larry Hogan said that doesn’t trigger the need for additional restrictions.
Nevertheless, the Republican governor sounded the alarm about maintaining the status quo as cases spike in the state and nationwide.
“Our statewide metrics do not yet warrant taking drastic immediate actions,” Hogan said Thursday during a press conference in Annapolis. “However, the upticks in some of our metrics here and spiking numbers in other states do place us once again at a pivotal moment in this fight.”
Maryland reported nearly 1,200 new coronavirus cases Wednesday, its largest daily amount since the pandemic gripped the nation in March.
The state also required 157 ICU beds, the highest such figure since June 29.
Additionally, the state’s positivity rate rose above 4 percent for the first time since August. Hogan said several jurisdictions including Allegheny, Dorchester, Garrett, Harford and Prince George’s counties are above 5 percent.
Eighteen of the state’s 24 jurisdictions have recorded 10 confirmed cases per 100,000 people.
Nationwide, the daily total of confirmed coronavirus cases reached 100,000 Wednesday, the highest amount recorded so far.
Hogan said the travel advisory will subsequently remain in effect and urged residents to avoid traveling to states with a positivity rate of 10 percent or higher.
“If you do travel to one of these locations, you should immediately be tested for COVID-19 and should self-quarantine while awaiting the results,” he said.
Hogan emphasized how residents can help in slowing the spread of the virus by washing hands, standing six feet apart when outside and not holding large gatherings.
The governor had a simple but forceful message for residents defying a statewide order to wear face coverings in public: “Just wear the damn masks.”
Hogan urged county officials to step up its enforcement of safety measures, particularly by ensuring people are wearing masks and limiting capacity in bars and restaurants.
David Marcozzi, COVID-19 incident commander for the University of Maryland Medical System, said the state’s data is “concerning” because more residents have the virus and are becoming sick.
He also gave a personal account about a friend who died by suicide during the pandemic.
“We need to recognize that this virus doesn’t affect us physically. It affects us mentally,” Marcozzi said before pausing to collect his thoughts. “Let’s make sure we stay connected. Let’s make sure we reach out. Let’s make sure we support each other.”
Locally, Prince George’s County continues to pace the state in confirmed cases, with 34,158 as of Wednesday.
School officials in the majority-Black jurisdiction conducted a survey between Oct. 5-18 with about 68 percent expressing “discomfort” with allowing their children to return to the classroom in the spring.
Public schools CEO Monica Goldson held a distance-learning telephone town hall Thursday to provide updates and additional information. The school system still plans to assess whether to allow students back in classrooms in February.
In neighboring Montgomery County, the county council on Thursday postponed voting on an executive order from County Executive Marc Elrich to reduce capacity to 25 percent at restaurants, retail shops and other venues. Elrich’s order also requires restaurants to retain contract tracing information from patrons for 30 days.
The council, which must approve the order before it goes into effect, plans to discuss and vote on the new restrictions Tuesday.
With Thanksgiving coming up in three weeks, Hogan encouraged residents to be patient and not become complacent.
“I understand there’s a real COVID fatigue and it’s extremely frustrated for all us that things are not back to normal,” he said. “The straight truth is that this virus will be with us well into next year. We will get through this together.”