Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday that it’s too soon to tighten restrictions on businesses even as health officers from Maryland’s five largest counties and Baltimore City are asking the state to consider renewed requirements on bars, restaurants and other establishments to curb the recent rise in coronavirus cases.
The Republican governor was asked during a CSPAN-2 appearance whether he might consider “shutting down certain aspects of business again.”
“Our goal would be to try to keep business open and the economy unless it’s absolutely necessary,” Hogan replied.
The health officers wrote on Monday to Fran Phillips, a deputy state health secretary.
“We are writing to share our concerns regarding the recent increase in daily cases across the state and impact of the virus over the past week,” said the letter signed by the officials from Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s.
The officers asked the state to revisit Hogan’s orders last month easing restrictions on gatherings and indoor activities such as eating in restaurants and visiting malls and recreational establishments. The orders came with limits, such as the number of people served at a time and a requirement for masking indoors.
Hogan replied on C-SPAN2 that Maryland is monitoring the state’s coronavirus numbers closely.
“Our number of cases is slowly ratcheting up but our positivity is actually not, our hospitalizations are good, our ICUs are good, our death rate is down,” the governor said. “So we watch all of these on a daily basis and they all are trending in the right direction unlike in most states. But as soon as we start to see numbers that don’t look good, it’s going to cause us to take whatever actions are necessary.”
But the governor said his goal is “to try to keep the economy safely open because the economic crisis is nearly as bad — or just as bad — as the health crisis.”
The interview was conducted by former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb on a program hosted by the American Enterprise Institute.
Maryland reported 860 more cases Tuesday. The day’s tally means the state has added at least 700 new COVID-19 infections on six of the previous eight days. It surpassed that mark only once from June 7 to July 13.
The rise brought Maryland’s infection total to at least 79,545. Over the previous 14 days, Maryland has reported an average of 654 new cases of the virus each day, compared with 385 during the prior two weeks.
Baltimore Sun reporter Nathan Ruiz contributed to this article