Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Wednesday that the state plans to transition into phase one of his recovery plan next week, contingent on the continued decline of coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations.
Phase one consists of the return of some activities — outdoor religious services, for example — and the reopening of some small businesses. Recreational outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, golfing and camping will be allowed to resume Thursday morning, Hogan said. Elective medical procedures can also resume.
Hogan said the latest coronavirus-related numbers are “encouraging.” Hospitalizations have been trending downward for five days, with a slight increase Tuesday, and the number of ICU patients has plateaued for eight days.
“We are making great progress, we are flattening the curve, and we are preparing to launch our reopening plan in order to get our people back to work, ” Hogan said.
Hogan’s three-part recovery plan was instituted April 24, almost a month after the state’s stay-at-home order began. Phase two of the plan will raise limits on social gatherings and allow for the reopening of most businesses, including indoor gyms, dine-in restaurants and childcare centers.
And even with parts of the economy beginning to reopen, Dr. David Marcozzi, the COVID-19 Incident Commander for the University of Maryland Medical System and a member of the state’s coronavirus response team, emphasized Wednesday that citizens need to remember to follow public health guidelines.
“This virus is still with us,” Marcozzi said. “We need to be sensitive to any concerns we might have with regard to spreading this virus amongst all of our citizens.”
Hogan reiterated this, adding that it’s still important for residents to follow proper health guidelines.
“It will remain critical that you continue to follow public health guidance, continue to practice physical distancing and, most of all, that you continue to take actions to keep yourself and fellow Marylanders safe,” Hogan said.
With parts of the economy heading toward reopening, some institutions are remaining closed. Maryland superintendent of schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced Wednesday that all public schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year. The reopening of the schools may be a part of phase two or three of the recovery plan.
Salmon outlined different methods of returning to school, such as groups of students coming to schools on alternating days or weeks. She added that schools can alter their schedules as long as they follow public health guidance.
“We can get through this crisis together and come out stronger than ever for all of our Maryland students,” Salmon said.