February 6, 2023
Annapolis, US 52 F

Anne Arundel County Executive Pittman announces COVID-19 re-opening plan

Together with Anne Arundel County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman and County Attorney Greg Swain, County Executive Pittman laid out his plans for re-opening the economy in Anne Arundel County.

Yesterday, Governor Hogan announced the beginning of Stage 1 of his Roadmap to Recovery lifting a stay at home order, allowing retail stores to re-open, Church services to resume, and manufacturing to start up. However, the Governor said that individual counties could set their own schedule.

When the Governor re-opened the waters, beaches, and playgrounds, it caught the County Executive off guard. Despite Hogan’s re-opening directives, the beaches and playgrounds in Anne Arundel County have remained closed.

Last night, Pittman tweeted that any re-opening would be in consultation with the County Health Officer:

This afternoon, on a Zoom call, he outlined the steps that Anne Arundel County would be taking to re-open and how it compares to the Governor’s plan announced yesterday.

He identified metrics that the State and the County are watching–for by the State and two additional by the County:

  1. Hospitalizations — County is holding steady but not declining and they want a decline
  2. PPE — The County is not set for a 14 day stock of PPE
  3. Testing — County is still behind, but they have their own contractor LabCorp, but numbers are not where they need to be
  4. Contact Tracing — We are head and shoulders above any jurisdiction and deployed school health staffs to handle this. We have 100 contact tracers.
  5. Community Spread — If you compare from the beginning of the restrictions, we have more new cases per day than the beginning. It is still growing.
  6. Health Equity — We have health equity initiative for communities at greatest risk and most vulnerable.

He said we cannot move forward when the metrics are not being met.

There are some areas where the County can ease restrictions. Specifically:

  • Retail businesses as defined in section III b) of the state executive order will be allowed to reopen – but for curbside pickup only. Customers are not permitted inside the establishment and employees must follow physical distancing guidelines.
    • Only automatic carwashes are allowed to open at this time.
    • Animal shelters are allowed to open in accordance with the state executive order.
    • Pet groomers are allowed to open for pet drop-off or pick-up only.
  • Beauty salons and barber shops as described in section III d) of the state executive order are allowed to open under the April 20 interpretive guidance (by appointment only with a maximum of one customer in the premises at one time) but customers are no longer required to be “essential” personnel.
  • Manufacturing businesses and facilities within the county are allowed to open.
  • Religious Facilities are not allowed to open. Gatherings of more than 10 people are not permitted.
  • Face coverings are still required for customers and employees in any retail businesses (including those already permitted to be open prior to 5/15) and residents are encouraged to wear them whenever interaction with others is possible.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman:

We have likely saved thousands of lives through the sacrifices we have made in recent weeks. I am loosening only the restrictions that should have no significant impact on the spread of this virus. We cannot afford a second spike in new cases.

When asked if there was a general feeling for when Anne Arundel County may re-open in accordance with the Governor’s recommendations, Pittman said they would know more in three weeks as data begins to flow in from municipalities that have relaxed restrictions earlier. Dr. Kalyanaraman interjected that they needed to see movement on the metrics before he is comfortable.

As to the “Stay at Home” order that was changed to a “Safe at Home” public health advisory by Governor Hogan, the County Executive said that the only difference was the lifting of the fines imposed for violating it. Since the County has not fined anyone for a violation, changing it has no effect. He did recommend that everyone still remain at home.

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