CommunityWilliam J. Ford

Maryland Gov. Hogan Earmarks $70M to Bolster Coronavirus Response

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that Maryland will provide an additional $70 million in response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic amid a surge in state cases, with the funds going toward items such as personal protective equipment, vaccination supplies and food banks.

About $10 million would be used for low-income tenants toward rental housing assistance. The announcement comes before an eviction moratorium instituted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expires at year’s end.

The $70 million of new investments I am announcing today will help us to protect the health and safety of more Marylanders,” Hogan said Thursday inside the State House. “The next several months will likely be by far the most difficult we have faced. This truly is an all-hands-on-deck operation.”

On Thursday, the state health department reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the ninth straight day, bringing Maryland’s total to 159,900 since the start of the pandemic earlier this year.

Half of the state’s 24 jurisdictions have positivity rates above 5 percent, and hospitalizations increased by 53 percent in the past two weeks.

As of Thursday, Maryland’s number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations is 863, an increase of 58 over the past 24-hour period and the highest it has been since June 11.

In addition to the $10 million for rental assistance, the remaining $60 million will come from the federal CARES Act used toward coronavirus relief.

Here’s a breakdown of the rest of the funding:

About $20 million to build a stockpile of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.
About $15 million for the state Department of Labor to handle customer service and fraud detection for unemployment insurance.
About $10 million for food banks.
About $10 million for the state’s vaccination plan to purchase supplies.
Approximately $2 million for state Department of Human Services to help foster care providers and services.
Another $2 million for the department to handle the increase in food stamp and energy assistance programs capacity. In addition, extend daily hours and weekend operations.
$1 million for the state’s health and environment departments for a wastewater sampling program to detect coronavirus outbreaks at public housing units and correctional facilities.
Prior to Hogan’s press conference, two county leaders announced Thursday restrictions for their respective jurisdictions.
Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks issued an executive order to limit outdoor gatherings to 25 people and indoor events at places such as residences, bars and restaurants to 10 people.
For houses of worship, the outdoor capacity will be decreased by half from 250 to 125 people.
“It is time to hunker down,” Alsobrooks said during a press conference at the county’s emergency operations center in Landover. “We are in the midst of another surge and based on the data our public health officials have gathered … we have found that gatherings indoors are very dangerous.”
Neighboring Anne Arundel County will enforce similar social gathering limits starting Friday and suspend youth athletics starting Monday.
By Nov. 20, indoor operations at bars and restaurants will be reduced from 50 percent to 25 percent.
“Waiting is not an option,” County Executive Steuart Pittman said in a statement.Like our neighboring jurisdictions, we are acting now to slow the spread that will inevitably lead to a hospitalization surge at a time when our hospitals are operating near capacity. This is a more dangerous moment than we faced in the spring, so there is no question that we must take action.”

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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, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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