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Anne Arundel executive calls on Gov. Hogan to take more coronavirus actions, warns of ‘catastrophic scenario’ in Maryland hospitals

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman called on Gov. Larry Hogan Saturday to take more statewide action to address the surge of coronavirus cases. Without statewide action, Pittman predicted a “catastrophic scenario” in hospitals.

Pittman cited Johns Hopkins University modeling that shows 10,000 Marylanders will need to be hospitalized by the end of the year and 15,000 by mid-February if the trajectory of the virus isn’t changed.

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The call to action came as the county recorded another 191 new coronavirus cases and three more deaths attributed to the virus.

“Maryland’s hospital surge capacity planning does not come close to meeting the need projected by the Johns Hopkins modeling,” Pittman wrote in a Facebook post Saturday. “We have less capacity than we had in the spring when hospitals had canceled elective surgeries and health care workers were available in parts of the country that had not yet felt their first COVID attacks.”

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He highlighted inconsistent restaurant capacity limits and indoor gathering limits as restrictions Hogan should address. Hogan’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.

Restaurants in Anne Arundel are currently limited to 25% capacity indoors, but Hogan has allowed local leaders to permit up to 50% capacity. At individual social gatherings, Anne Arundel residents are limited to 10 people maximum indoors, but Hogan is still allowing 25.

Pittman suggested rolling back to carry out service at restaurants only, and urged residents to stop gathering with people outside their “pods.”

“The vaccines should be here soon, and be widely available in the spring. That’s when we’ll look back on this deadly winter and ask if we could have done more to protect our hospitals, our health care heroes, our neighbors, and our families,” Pittman wrote. “We will ask ourselves if we did enough to save lives.

Numbers released Saturday by the Marland Department of Health show the 10th straight day with more than 150 new cases, with the high point so far coming on Thursday with 271 in 24 hours.

Statewide, Maryland health officials reported 2,885 new confirmed cases of the coronavirus Saturday, the state’s second-highest daily total during the pandemic. Officials said 16 more people have died since Friday in connection with COVID-19, the disease the virus causes.

The newly reported cases bring the county total to 15,294 and the death toll to 283. An additional 12 county residents are believed to have died from the virus but were never tested.

Across the state, Friday’s numbers bring the state to at least 179,971 infections and 4,261 virus-related deaths during the pandemic.

The state has reported 2,000 or more new cases in six of the past eight days — a number not seen before this period — and a thousand or more cases for 18 straight days

The state’s positivity rate fell slightly on Saturday to 7.13%, the state reported.

Sixty-one people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Anne Arundel Medical Center and Baltimore Washington Medical Center, the two hospitals that treat most county residents. There were 17 people in intensive care.

The number of county hospitalizations has been above 50 since Nov. 8. The county is not reporting hospital capacity figures, but Covid Act Now, a nonprofit listed on the county Health Department, estimates there is an 81 percent chance of county hospitals being overloaded.

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Statewide, the number of people hospitalized because of coronavirus rose slightly to 1,229, with 278 patients in intensive care, the state said.

Maryland residents were warned Thursday to seriously consider limiting travel through New Year’s Day. The state Department of Health on Thursday launched a webpage to answer frequently asked questions about holiday travel during the pandemic.

Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said there has been an increased demand for testing leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday. Though he said the county has the tests to meet the demand, they are now requiring appointments at the Annapolis Health Annex, Glen Burnie Baymeadow site and the O’Malley Senior Center in Odenton, to prevent long lines.

Residents can schedule testing appointments online by visiting crispcovid19.powerappsportals.com/new-patient/.

The county also launched a social media toolkit to help keep people safe during the Thanksgiving holiday.

“Recent County and CDC data warn that an increasing number of COVID-19 cases are being traced to family gatherings. Size doesn’t matter. Anytime people from different households get together, the risk of infection increases,” the toolkit warns.

The toolkit includes social media graphics, messaging, and print material to educate and county residents on safe and healthy decisions for Thanksgiving and raise awareness about county assistance programs available.

To obtain the toolkit, visit aacounty.org/coronavirus/holiday-toolkit.pdf

Anne Arundel County does not offer a breakdown by ZIP code on weekends.

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