ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan is ordering restaurants and bars to close at 10 p.m. starting Friday in response to the rise in reported COVID-19 cases.
Hogan said during a briefing in Annapolis on Tuesday, Nov. 17, that the state was also issuing new orders restricting visitations at nursing homes, telling hospitals to put off elective surgeries and cutting allowed capacities at fitness centers, stores and other venues.
Hogan’s restaurant order follows a similar action on restaurant closing times ordered by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This order carries the full force of the law and it will be enforced,” Hogan said of the restaurant order and restrictions on standing at bars.
Hogan is also restricting attendance at sporting events. Hogan is rolling back a previous order issued last month allowing for limited fans at Baltimore Ravens and Washington Football Team games.
Hogan said he was on a coronavirus conference call with Vice President Mike Pence and Dr. Anthony Fauci on the rise in reported cases across the country.
He said he will also be meeting with Joe Biden and his transition team on the rise in COVID cases on Thursday.
Hogan, a Republican, does not support President Donald Trump and has urged him to concede the 2020 race to Biden.
“This will be my first opportunity to talk to the president-elect,” Hogan said.
Trump has refused to concede to Biden claiming media projections of the race are based in illegally counted votes and faulty software. A number of court cases brought by the Trump campaign have failed to gain traction thus far with various courts.
“We have to make sure there is a smooth handoff,” Hogan said of his concerns about the presidential transition and the rise of COVID cases.
He stressed his concerns about the rise in COVID cases and hospitalizations nationally. “This is not the flu. This is not fake news. This is not going to magically disappear,” Hogan said.
Maryland and other states have seen a recent rise in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.
There has also been a rise in COVID testing statewide and nationally. Hogan encouraged Marylanders to get more COVID tests as the holidays approach.
The Maryland Department of Health reported 2,149 new COVID cases on Tuesday, Nov. 17. The agency also reported 27,740 tests were conducted in the last 24 hours. There are currently 1,046 patients hospitalized for COVID statewide with 61 new ones reported Tuesday.
The state health agency also reported 26 new coronavirus deaths on Tuesday. That brings Maryland’s death toll from the virus to 4,186.
The positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is 6.85% statewide and 5.53% in Talbot County.
Those are above the 5% benchmarks set by the World Health Organization and U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Hogan said hospitalizations are their highest levels since June.
“We are in a war right now and the virus is winning,” Hogan said.
Hogan is also frustrated with lack of compliance with state orders related to masks and social distancing.
“Violations of the public health emergency orders is a crime,” he said, adding violators can face fines and even jail time.
The Maryland governor also said Tuesday the Maryland Department of Health has issued orders restricting visitors at nursing homes, allowing overloaded hospitals to transfer patients to other facilities and reducing the number of elective surgeries.
The order also includes requiring COVID tests twice a week for nursing home employees and once a week for patients. Visitors will also have to provide proof of a negative coronavirus test before they are allowed to visit a facility, Hogan said.