Governor Larry Hogan’s July 29 COVID-19 Press Conference

Maryland state flag

Governor Larry Hogan held a press conference on July 29, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. in the State House. The focus of the press conference was Maryland’s COVID-19 response and new public health guidelines. He was joined at the press conference by Fran Phillips, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at the Maryland Department of Health, and Jinlene Chan, Assistant Secretary & Chief Medical Officer at the Maryland Department of Health.

Key Takeaways

  • Governor Hogan requiring new mask usage guidelines
  • No Stage 3 opening imminent in Maryland
  • Maryland not on list of red zone states with spikes in coronavirus
  • Governor Hogan, through the National Governors Association, continues to push for federal government budget relief in fourth COVID-19 stimulus
  • Maryland Department of Health issuing public health advisory advising against out-of-state travel to certain states
  • Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips announces retirement from Maryland Department of Health

Governor Larry Hogan Remarks

  • Governor Larry Hogan opened his remarks by stating that he had a call with the nation’s governors and the White House Coronavirus Task Force about pressing for fiscal relief for states. The Governor is looking to Congress to reach a bipartisan consensus to provide needed funding for states in a fourth stimulus legislative package.
  • The Governor also met with the Maryland coronavirus team. This team seeks a science-based and data-driven approach. They continue to monitor Maryland’s COVID-19 numbers as well as those in other states.
  • The federal government announced there are 21 red zone states with rapidly rising infections and advised measures be taken in those states to quell the spread of the virus. Maryland is not on that list.
  • COVID-19 does not recognize state borders. The Governor said Maryland’s numbers could spike and the government is making every effort to keep Maryland open and ensure citizens are following health guidelines.
  • Closing businesses for a second time is devastating for the economy, but Maryland is doing better with business recovery than most states and the Governor aims to keep businesses open.
  • The Governor commended Maryland’s testing strategy and stockpile of tests, which have increased exponentially. Increased testing has resulted in an increase in positive tests, but the seven day positivity rate is 4.77 percent, remaining below the 5 percent goal recommended by CDC and WHO. The threshold has been below 5 percent for 34 straight days in Maryland.
  • The Governor noted outbreaks in Queen Anne’s County, Worcester County and Dorchester County. He said aggressive action has brought those positivity rates down.
  • The State is making unlimited quantities of COVID-19 tests available to counties that need them and advised Marylanders to use state testing sites, including the new state-of-the-art lab at University of Maryland Baltimore. Test results are available in Maryland in 24-to-48 hours, but other states are taking much longer. The National Governors Association is pushing a national strategy to achieve quicker turnaround times and distribute more rapid forms of COVID-19 testing.
  • In recent weeks, Maryland has witnessed a dramatic increase of infections in younger people under the age of 40. While positivity rate has declined for 12 weeks for those over 35, those under 35 are testing positive 76.8 percent higher than those 35 and older.
  • The State is closely monitoring hospitalizations, which have increased 28 percent over past two weeks. Currently, there are 145 ICU beds in use. An uptick in acute care beds has been seen for younger patients, who are less vulnerable to death.
  • Under the Roadmap to Recovery Plan, the State will remain in Stage 2. There will be no Stage 3 openings now.
  • For contact tracing, the State is looking for patterns to see where the virus is spreading, the Governor urged that citizens cooperate with contact tracers. By identifying hotspot locations, the State can take targeted actions to slow the spread of the virus in a localized fashion rather than shutting down a whole city or county.
  • The number one activity of those who have recently tested positive was attending family gatherings (more than half). The next highest was attending house parties (23 percent), followed by attending outdoor events (21 percent).
  • 25 percent of recent positive cases are health care workers, 23 percent are office workers with non-public facing jobs, 13 percent were individuals with public-facing jobs, and 12 percent were in restaurant and food service industries.
  • The Governor asked employers to allow employees to telework if possible, practice physical distancing, wearing face coverings and avoiding travel to other states.
  • The Maryland Health Department is issuing a public health advisory to avoid traveling to certain states (Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska and Idaho). The public health advisory applies to family or business travel. The Governor urged Marylanders to wait until positivity rates decline in those states before traveling. If one does travel to those states, the Governor asked that they get tested.
  • Effective July 31, the current masking order is expanded to public spaces of all businesses and required in outdoor public areas when it is not possible to maintain social distancing.
  • The Governor said businesses are following guidelines, but when they are not, it is the responsibility of local leaders to enforce regulations in their respective jurisdictions.
  • The Governor finished his prepared remarks by announcing that Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips is retiring. Governor Hogan thanked her for her service. She will stay on in an advisory capacity through the crisis. Governor Hogan announced that the acting Deputy Secretary will be Jinlene Chan.

Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips Remarks

  • Phillips thanked the Governor for his COVID-19 response and commended Marylanders for making sacrifices.
  • She noted recent accomplishments, including 6,000 new hospital beds, 1.1 million COVID-19 tests administered, 70 million pieces of PPE delivered, 1,300 new contact tracers interviewing 23,000 people, and 14,000 medical recruits volunteered.

Jinlene Chan, Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services at the
Maryland Department of Health

  • Chan thanked Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips and commended her service.
  • She said Maryland has come a long way in its response to COVID-19. Maryland has taken huge steps in battling the virus, but urged Marylanders not to become complacent. She said existing health guidance and new orders for mask usage and out of state travel are important.

Also see:

COVID-19: GBC Coverage and Response

Special Update on State and Federal Legislation Related to COVID-19

Coverage of GBC Member companies’ philanthropic responses to COVID-19

News Coverage of GBC COVID-19 Events