County Executive Ball Announces New COVID-19 Gathering Limits and Restrictions
Howard County metrics of 5% positivity, nearly 20 per 100k case rate trigger new restrictions
Today, County Executive Calvin Ball announced new COVID-19 restrictions after Howard County exceeded a 5% positivity rate and a case rate of 19.1 per 100,000 residents. A new Executive Order prohibits indoor gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor gatherings of more than 25 people effective Tuesday, November 17 at 5:00 p.m. The Department of Recreation & Parks has canceled all tournaments that include out-of-state participants and redoubled its efforts on mask-wearing for all other programs, leagues, and tournaments. Additionally, Ball announced the launch of a “Stay COVID Safe” communications campaign for Howard County, to inform and remind the public on simple steps everyone can take to stop the spread of the virus. Photos of the event can be found here. Video can be found here.
“We’ve been closely monitoring our data in Howard County, the nation-wide increases we’re seeing are also happening here in Howard County,” said Ball. “As we approach Thanksgiving and our winter holidays, it is vital that we act swiftly and thoughtfully to stop this spike in cases, keep our residents safe and well. Our decisions will continue to be data-informed and people-driven. Through our contact tracing efforts, we’ve identified transmission from family or close friends makes up much of our cases. If we all wear masks whenever around people outside our household, we will be able to crush this curve.”
County Executive Ball issued an Executive Order prohibiting indoor social gatherings of more than 10 people and outdoor social gatherings of more than 25 people. Under the Executive Order “social gatherings” include:
· Family gatherings
· Other gatherings not associated with operating or patronizing a business that sells merchandise
The order excludes retail stores, offices, foodservice establishments, social and fraternal organizations and associations clubs, recreation sports and programs, religious gatherings, wedding receptions at a wedding venue, indoor theaters and outdoor entertainment venues.
“Given our data and current situation in Howard County it is imperative that we make a renewed and concerted effort to reduce transmission of this virus,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “Wear a mask/face covering. Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet between yourself and others. Wash your hands. Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. And limit visits with those outside of our households.”
“Since the beginning of this pandemic, Howard County residents and businesses have been overwhelmingly compliant with restrictions intended to protect the health and safety of their families, friends and customers,” said Police Chief Lisa Myers. “With these new measures, we have every reason to believe that our communities will continue to lead by example and follow the guidelines to reduce the number of positive cases and slow the spread.”
“Howard County Fire and Rescue continues to stand ready and serve our community to the highest level in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Fire Chief William Anuszewski. “We are staffed, equipped with PPE, and have continued successful practices to maintain the safety of our firefighters and paramedics. I ask that everyone does their part to assist in the protection of our emergency responders, so we can continue to be there for our community in their time of need.”
“We have all been through this arduous event together, but it isn’t over yet,” said Mike Hinson, Director of the Office of Emergency Management. “We will need to stay focused on protective measures such as wearing masks, hand washing, and staying physically distant, and work as a community to keep each other safe.”
Recreation & Parks Updates
The Maryland Department of Health has issued an expanded advisory regarding avoiding all out-of-state travel that is non-essential, especially to states with a positivity rate of more than 10%. The Department of Recreation & Parks is canceling all tournaments with out of state participants to ensure the utmost safety of all athletes and residents. At this time, Howard County Recreation & Parks leagues, programs, and in-state tournaments will continue playing.
“With our parks and facilities being an outlet for people during this pandemic, I understand the mental and physical health benefits that exercise and being outside brings. Our department is doing everything we can to help keep this opportunity available for children and adults,” said Director of Recreation & Parks Raul Delerme. “We are requiring face coverings when not exercising, conducting health checks, practicing rigorous cleaning practices, and more.”
Stay COVID Safe Campaign
The “Stay COVID Safe” communications campaign for Howard County will inform and remind the public on simple steps everyone can take to stop the spread of the virus. Consistent, persistent and persuasive messaging is needed to break through the COVID fatigue we are all experiencing. To Stay COVID Safe, this campaign will be all-hands-on deck to make sure that our community knows and adheres to recommendations and guidance. Howard County will establish a team of ambassadors to engage residents in our communities, encourage people to wear masks and to avoid hosting or attending large gatherings. The County will also utilize partnerships within the community – with our local businesses, libraries, restaurants, and more to ensure that everyone has the resources and knowledge to Stay COVID Safe.
Watch the press conference from November 16th here:
Here is the latest positivity rate for each jurisdiction reported by the state of Maryland on November 16th: