County Executive Ball Announces Phase One Reopening Updates
Reopening decisions made in accordance with HoCo RISE framework and metrics
Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced the lifting of additional restrictions for retail, barbers and hair salons, as well as religious institutions. According to Ball’s Executive Order, effective Friday, May 29th at 7:00 a.m. retail, barber and hair salons will be able to operate at 50% maximum capacity with additional guidance specific to each industry. Religious institutions and gatherings will be permitted to hold outdoor services up to 250 people. Comprehensive guidelines for each industry are detailed in the Executive Order, additional interpretative guidance will be available to businesses this week.
“On May 13th when Governor Hogan announced that many decisions regarding reopening would be delegated to local jurisdictions, I made the difficult decision to keep certain restrictions in Howard County. At the time, our data showed we weren’t ready to go as far as the Governor’s Order,” said Ball. “After the Governor’s announcement we released HoCo RISE, our framework outlining the metrics we track to make decisions on how Howard County will reopen innovatively, safely, and effectively. Since announcing HoCo RISE, our metrics are showing some promising trends and we’ve made progress on the building blocks for reopening, including a lower ICU and ventilator utilization rate, a lower daily average of new cases, and an increase in our contact tracing operation.”
“After spiking to 78.8% on May 15, the ICU utilization rate at Howard County General Hospital has fallen or stayed the same for 7 of 14 days, and as of May 23 was at its lowest level since April 1. The ventilator utilization rate for the same time period is 18.6%. The average daily case count, which is expected to rise as testing becomes more available, is down to an average of 27 cases per day after surging to an average of 33 cases for the two-week period that started on April 26th. Lastly, Howard County has increased the number of contact tracers from two people when the pandemic started to 35,” Ball said.
Ball continued, “While we are pleased with the progress we are seeing, we must not become complacent as we enter new phases of reopening. As we begin to lift restrictions, we will continue to keep a close eye on our data, and ease or tighten restrictions as needed.”
“Howard County has been working with our partners in the community, neighboring jurisdictions, and at the State level to flatten the curve of COVID-19,” said Mike Hinson, Director of the Office of Emergency Management. “Between County efforts and the assistance of these partners we have procured nearly half a million pieces of personal protective equipment and supplies. We also have over a million more pieces on order. Additionally, we continue to monitor emerging solutions and utilize new technologies as they become available in our ongoing fight against COVID-19.”
“Today marks another milestone in responding to this pandemic,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “It is essential that we all continue social distancing and other efforts so we can gradually resume our new normal activities.”
Beginning at 7:00 a.m. on Friday, May 29th:
- Retailers in Howard County may open at 50% of maximum occupancy.
- Retailers are still encouraged to use curbside pick-up whenever possible.
- Barbers and hair salons may open at 50% of maximum occupancy including staff.
- Businesses must continue to operate by appointment only.
- Staff and clients must wear masks.
- Religious institutions may hold outdoor services of up to 250 people, as long as all participants can maintain appropriate physical distancing of 6 feet.
- Indoor services are still limited to a maximum of 10 people.
The Howard County Department of Fire and Rescue Services has provided guidelines for businesses to determine their maximum occupancy to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Howard County Fire and Rescue has remained focused on providing exemplary serving during this pandemic,” said Fire and Rescue Services Chief William Anuszewski. “The actions from our resilient community and the direction from our County Administration has successfully flatted the curve, which is reflected through our response data. Our firefighters and paramedics continue to see a decrease in response, emergency care, and transport of potential COVID-19 patients.”
“Over 80% of our businesses have fewer than 20 employees so this pandemic has affected a majority of our business community,” said Larry Twele, Howard County Economic Development Authority CEO. “This next phase allows most of our small business owners to re-open their doors, bring back their employees and begin to serve their customers. We are encouraged that we continue to make progress as a community and are able to take this next step towards economic recovery.”
“Have patience with small businesses as we re-open in these uncertain times. At Envy Salon we will be following and exceeding the guidelines set by the CDC, Howard County and the Maryland State Board of Cosmetology to make sure our employees and guests feel safe,” said Envy Salon Owner Leeza Ennis. “We support the additional guidelines and effort of Howard County to keep their citizens as safe as possible.”
“We thank our county leaders for their care and concern for the safety of our congregants and citizens. While such restrictions are less than optimal, especially restricting singing from the congregants, we, as leaders, understand that sometimes it is more profitable to be disciplined in our expressions than not,” said Rev. Dr. David A. Anderson. “Therefore, Bridgeway Community Church in Columbia, Maryland and Owings Mills-Reisterstown, Maryland will remain open online for our services. We will continue to serve the hungry and minister in other ways that will not put our members at physical risk. We will worship spiritually and be united in the Spirit until we believe that coming back together in the flesh is safe and sanitary. In the meantime we pray for our government officials, our healthcare workers, and our community leaders for safety, sound judgment and discernment.”
“Celebration Church of Columbia is aligned with County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball in prioritizing the safety of our community in planning the phased reopening of Howard County,” Pastor Robbie Davis said. “We have not set a date when we will again gather in our building for services. Instead, we have decided to continue our online virtual worship experience on Sundays at 10am until further notice.”