CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Indoor Dining, Gyms Part of Reopening Plans in Maryland

Marylanders waiting to dine indoors at restaurants, go miniature golfing or hit the go-kart tracks can visit those places beginning 5 p.m. Friday as part of the state’s phase two reopening plan amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Larry Hogan also announced Wednesday at a press conference in Annapolis that school systems can hold outdoor graduation ceremonies and outdoor pools can resume operations, but at 50 percent capacity.

Other businesses such as indoor gyms, dance studios and martial arts centers can reopen at 50 percent capacity on June 19. Additionally, casinos, malls and arcades can also reopen June 19, but those businesses must follow safety protocols and sanitation measures.

Hogan said he couldn’t promise the state would be able to fully recover from the coronavirus, but he praised residents in following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state and local health and government officials.

“I’m proud of the people of Maryland for sticking together, for never losing hope and staying Maryland strong during this incredibly difficult time,” he said. “This truly is one of the most daunting challenges that our state has ever faced. But sometimes in the worst of times, have a way of bringing out the very best in Marylanders.”

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, the state’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases stands at 59,465.

Although the test positivity rate remains below 10 percent, but the single-day total in deaths increased by 39 for a total of 2,719.

A figure Hogan continues to tout is the number of patients currently hospitalized, which has remained below 1,000 for more than a week.

He urged those who participated in protests throughout the state to get tested.

To help with that, the state Department of Health and the Maryland National Guard will open several testing sites in Baltimore including the Baltimore Convention Center.

“Our health experts are strongly encouraging anyone who attended any of the protests or gatherings in Maryland over the past two weeks to immediately get tested for the coronavirus,” he said. “Also, try to avoid contact with vulnerable populations such as older people and those with underlying conditions.”

During Hogan’s press conference, Prince George’s County’s health department released a statement encouraging residents who attended mass protests to get tested.

CDC guidelines recommend people get tested within a week after a protest.

Besides several testing sites managed by the state, the county’s Health Department runs free testing sites from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday at Rollingcrest-Chillum Recreation Center and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday at Cheverly Health Center.

Although residents don’t need insurance to get tested, they must schedule an appointment at 301-883-6627.

“We stand in solidarity with all of you who call for social justice, accountability, and an end to racism,” said George Askew, deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education. “We also want to keep you and others safe and well, so please take the time to be tested.”

Jurisdictions still have the leeway to decide on how to extend its reopening efforts.

Prince George’s County continues to have the most confirmed cases at 17,305 with 385 deaths. The majority-Black jurisdiction houses the 20783 zip code in the Hyattsville area, which has more than 2,000 confirmed cases, the most in the state.

The zip code with the second-highest number of cases is 20906, in the Silver Spring area in Montgomery County, which has 1,481 cases.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks plans to announce a modified phase two reopening during a press briefing Thursday.

Meanwhile, Maryland schools Superintendent Karen Salmon announced child care centers and schools can offer summer school instruction with small groups of 10 to 15 children per classroom.

Additionally, high school athletics can resume outdoor activities modified within the same guidelines Hogan announced for youth sports last month.

Salmon said the state will review recovery plans from local school systems on how they will prepare for students in the next school year.

“I am so eager to work with all of those communities to move education forward in the coming months,” she said. “We will be stronger than ever.”

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail,

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