- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 12, 2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Thursday that he is “frustrated” over a lack of communication with the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“I understand we just went through a contentious election,” the Republican governor said during a press conference. “But it really is becoming a problem in that I think the people in the White House are focused on, ya know, fighting elections and the people in the Biden administration don’t have any information, haven’t taken over, and there’s a little bit of a vacuum right now.”

He said Nov. 2, the day before Election Day, was the last time the task force held a call with state leaders.

Mr. Hogan added that the states are fighting “probably the worst part of the crisis we’ve ever had to deal with, and we don’t know what’s going on at the federal level.”

His comments came days after seven county officials had sent him a letter urging collaboration on a statewide virus response because he reportedly had not held a call with them in more than 160 days.

Thursday marks the ninth day in a row that Maryland has recorded more than 1,000 daily new cases, and hospitalizations are at the highest rates since June.

The recent uptick prompted Mr. Hogan on Tuesday to announce new virus-related restrictions including reduced 50% indoor capacity at bars and restaurants.

Officials in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties also announced tightened rules this week for gatherings and indoor capacity at businesses.

With regard to county officials’ ability to implement their own rules, Mr. Hogan said he is “very comfortable” with the statewide restrictions and the “flexibility” allotted to local officials.

“We’re going to keep tracking the metrics and making changes everyday as we see fit,” he said, adding that more statewide rules “might” be implemented based on data.

Mr. Hogan also said that an additional $70 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds will be doled out to address the surge.

As of Thursday, Maryland had a case positivity rate of 5.65%, and reported 159,900 cases, of which 1,477 are new. An additional 12 deaths brings the statewide total to 4,112.

Cases are also on the rise in the District, and Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that restrictions “may” need to be expanded.

“We are watching our metrics and our experience with the virus very closely in the District and we will make changes as we think that the experience with the virus suggests,” Miss Bowser said during a press conference for a building dedication.

The daily case rate reported by D.C. health officials Thursday went back to the “red” zone of phased reopening metrics, as positive cases reached 15.8 per 100,000 people. The increase comes the day after 206 new cases were confirmed, the highest number since May.

About 45% of new infections in the “past couple of days” were people between the ages of 25 to 40 years old, said D.C. Health Director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. She added that most cases are linked to “small intimate settings” in which “social distancing and mask-wearing is not adhered to consistently.”

The District entered and has remained in “yellow” Phase Two of its three-part reopening plan since June 22. According to the guidelines, “potential dial-backs are evaluated in conjunction with other data to inform decisions to re-establish restrictions.”

As of Thursday, the D.C. Health Department confirmed a case positivity rate of 3.5%, as well as 18,507 total cases, of which 128 are new, and 657 total deaths.

Aside from the updated daily case rate, the community spread, health system capacity, and community engagement metrics remain within Phase Two and Phase Three levels.

Virginia also is seeing an increase in cases, and reported a case positivity rate of 5% on Thursday, as well as 1,521 new cases, which brings the total to 198,027. The death toll also increased by 15, raising the total to 3,758.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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