Baltimore, USA – Covid update – 8/8/2010
The U.S. surgeon general visited Baltimore Friday to urge people to wear masks, watch your distance and wash your hands as the city emerges as a new coronavirus hot spot.
U.S. Surgeon General Vice Adm. Jerome Adams predicted if everyone sticks to following the three W’s, things will go back to normal in a matter of weeks, regardless of a vaccine.
“No. 1, wash your hands.
No. 2, watch your distancing, meaning stay at least 6 feet away from others and avoid crowded places.
And, No. 3, wear a face mask,” Adams said.
This comes as Baltimore’s mayor updated his executive order when it comes to indoor gatherings. Under the order, which took effect at 5 p.m. Friday, restaurants can allow up to 25% capacity, but dining rooms must close at 10 p.m. Religious facilities can reopen at 25% occupancy. The same applies to retail stores, malls, casinos and other indoor recreation venues.
Adams, a Baltimore native, joined Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa after a tour of the coronavirus field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center. He came with an urgent pitch: “We know how to stop the spread of this disease. We don’t need to wait for a vaccine. We don’t need to wait for a miracle therapeutic.”
The White House Coronavirus Task Force has declared Baltimore City an emerging COVID-19 hot zone. According to city health officials, Baltimore City’s positivity rate of 5.8% remains higher than the state average. Dzirasa said contact tracing reveals one of the reasons why.
“Going to family gatherings or hosting the graduation cookout, it’s in those environments, those closed, indoor spaces where you may not be social distancing. You may be eating with someone outside your household,” Dzirasa said.
“Understand that just because you are around people you are related to doesn’t mean you are immune from the virus at that point or someone around you may not have the virus,” Adams said.
In the midst of the positivity rate increase, the city is loosening some restrictions.
The city health commissioner opposes loosening the restrictions, but she said she understands the economics behind it.
“(The mayor’s) in a tough position, as are many local leaders where you have to think about certainly the health impact, but also the economic implications of long closures,” Dizirasa said.
Many restaurant owners appreciate it.
“I think it is a good start. Obviously, it gives businesses an option. If it does rain, you are not taking a zero,” said Patrick Dahlgren, owner The Avenue Kitchen.
Smaller restaurants are having success expanding outdoors.
“People now enjoy sitting outside rather inside, you know, because of this COVID-19,” said Yolanda Padilla, co-owner of a Grano Pasta Bar.
As of Friday, Baltimore City has 12,239 coronavirus cases and 408 deaths, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
Mayor Jack Young’s executive order includes the following:
•Indoor dining: Restaurant dining rooms must close at 10 p.m. A restaurant’s kitchen is permitted to remain open past 10 p.m. to serve carryout and for outdoor dining only.
•Indoor and outdoor gatherings: Capped at 25 people
•Indoor gatherings at event venues: capped at 25 people or 25% occupancy, whichever is lower. If the venue has multiple event spaces, the 25 person/25% occupancy limit applies separately to each space within the venue, as long as the collective occupancy does not exceed 25% of the venue.
•Religious facilities: Capped at 25% of occupancy only.
•Retail establishments and malls: Capped at 25% of occupancy only.
•Indoor Recreation Establishments: Capped at 25% of occupancy only.
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