FREDERICK COUNTY, Md. (WDVM) — Frederick County, Maryland Executive Jan Gardner gave a live update at 3 p.m. Thursday on the county’s reopening plan.
Frederick County is allowing a slower phase in – the stay at home order remains in effect except the following new allowances:
- Curbside pickup for all retail operations
- Manufacturing can move forward (this hasn’t changed)
- Animal adoptions, pet grooming and car washes allowed
- Allow opening of small shops
- Business owners must have someone at the door limiting customers indoors
- Must have face coverings for all employees
If there is no influx of of cases for the next two weeks, more restrictions will be eased by May 29 – which will include hair salons and barbershops and places of worship, Gardner said.
“The focus of our decisions moving forward need to remain the same: Protecting public health,” including the vulnerable populations like elderly residents, Gardner said. She said the stay-at-home order has flattened the curve.
In Frederick County, there is only one hospital: Frederick Health. Gardner said she’s been tracking the number of beds and patients in ICUs there, and praised Frederick Health for its COVID-19 response.
Gardner said she didn’t know counties in Maryland would be able to make local reopening decisions until two days ago. Her first responsibility is to protect public health and welfare, she said. What she has heard from public opinion are evenly split: Opening as much as possible, and continuing to stay closed, Gardner said.
Frederick County’s nursing homes had “our greatest number of deaths and our worst outcomes,” Gardner said, and the nursing homes were kept in mind as the local leaders discussed reopening Frederick County.
Gardner said they have not ramped up testing for asymptomatic people, or all nursing homes. Two of the nursing homes only just began testing all the residents and staff a day prior.
Anyone with an underlying health condition or who is older in age, should continue to stay home, Gardner said. These vulnerable people should continue to operate under a stay-at-home order.
On Wednesday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced easing restrictions starting at 5 p.m. on Friday, May 15. He said local jurisdictions can make their own calls on reopening, as some Maryland counties are more impacted by COVID-19. On the state level, Maryland’s stay-at-home order is becoming a “safer at home public health advisory” starting Friday, Hogan said.
The county executive’s office said in a press release Wednesday that Gardner and “the mayors and burgesses of every municipality in Frederick County have agreed to coordinate how and when to implement any proposed changes.”
The Frederick County Health Department reported as of 4 p.m. Wednesday that 1,347 residents total have tested positive for COVID-19, and of those, 624 people were released from isolation. 83 Frederick County residents have died from the virus.
The statewide safer at home advisory means that retail stores will be allowed to reopen if they choose, with 50% indoor capacity. Manufacturing may resume operations; and personal services (barber shops and hair salons) may reopen at up to 50% capacity and by appointment only. Individual businesses are allowed to choose at what pace they reopen.
Places of worship can also resume inside services, but only at 50% capacity or less with appropriate safety protocols. The state still highly encourages outdoor services. With all of the easing restrictions, Hogan wants residents to continue taking personal precautionary measures by social distancing, wearing face coverings and washing hands/sanitizing frequently.
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