ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Gov. Larry Hogan is hoping to lift the stay at home order sometime in May as long as the state’s number of coronavirus-related deaths and hospitalizations begin a downward trend. The governor said he and the state’s experts are looking for that downward trend over a period of 14 days to determine when it’ll be safe to reopen the state.

“I want to stress that each of these recovery stages will need to be instituted in a safe, gradual and effective manner. If we try to rush this and if we don’t do it in a thoughtful and responsible way, it could cause a rebound of the virus, which could deepen the economic crisis for the fiscal problems and slow our economic recovery,” Hogan said.

The keys, or building blocks, to reopening involve expanding testing, more access to personal protective gear, extensive tracing of contacts of those who are positive, and expanding hospital beds, which have already been done across the state.

“As I discussed on Wednesday. We have made considerable progress on all four of the building blocks which needed to be firmly in place before we could consider lifting restrictions,” Hogan said. “First, we have exponentially expanded our testing capability. Second, we are exceeding our goals to increase hospital surge capacity. Third, we are making progress and increasing the supply of PPE. And fourth, we have quadrupled our capability to do contact tracing by building a robust force of 1,000 contact tracers and launching a state of the art contact tracing platform called COVID link.”

“To begin our reopening and recovery, just as soon as we reach the necessary trends in the critical metrics. I’m optimistic that if Marylanders continue. Staying home and continue practicing physical distancing, a little while longer,” Hogan added. “That our numbers could continue to plateau. And I’m hopeful that we could then be able to begin our recovery in early May.”

Stage one would be lifting the stay at home order and it would include reopening of many of our small businesses.

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“We would be able to restart many of our lower risk community activities and quality of life improvements changes that could occur during our first stage would include the reopening of certain businesses and retail shops, the reopening of golf courses and recreational boating and fishing, tennis, outdoor religious activities, along with outdoor fitness and gym classes, and the resumption of elective outpatient surgeries and procedures in certain counties with lower cases concentration of cases, local governments could also have additional flexibility to open things including local parks and playgrounds, municipal recreation centers and libraries,” he added.

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But those businesses would have to follow appropriate safety protocols. Hogan said these decisions would be based on the ability to continue physical distancing and to continue to limit person-to-person contact.

If stage one activities resume successfully without a spike in deaths, a sustained spike in ICU cases and no significant outbreaks through community transmission, the state can move onto stage two.

People will still need to wear masks or face coverings in public and would have to practice social distancing, officials said.

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Stage two would entail “a larger number of businesses would open, nonessential workers who cannot telework could return to work, and other public activities would be able to come back online. Indoor religious gatherings could resume with perhaps a limited capacity and physical distinct distancing measures.”

At this time, we could return to a more normal structure, Hogan said, adding expanding public transit schedules and the opening of restaurants and potentially bars would come with significant safety restrictions.

The third and final stage would be reinstituting higher risk, activities, such as larger social gatherings, events, religious gatherings and activities at entertainment venues, and a further lessening of restrictions at hospitals, and eventually nursing homes.

The ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery’ is divided into three stages:

  • STAGE ONE calls for lifting the stay-at-home order, and involves business, community, religious, and quality of life improvements. Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:
    • Reopening of small shops and certain small businesses
    • Curbside pickup and drop-off for businesses
    • Elective medical and dental procedures at ambulatory, outpatient, and medical offices
    • Limited attendance outdoor religious gatherings
    • Recreational boating, fishing, golf, tennis, hiking, and hunting
    • Reopening of car washes
    • Limited outdoor gym and fitness classes
    • Outdoor work with appropriate distancing measures
    • Some personal services
  • STAGE TWO will likely be a longer stage of the initial recovery, but will also be the stage when a large number of businesses and activities come back online. Any businesses that reopen during this period would need to comply with strict physical distancing and appropriate safety protocols. Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:
    • Raising the cap on social gatherings
    • Indoor gyms and fitness classes
    • Childcare centers
    • Normal transit schedules
    • Indoor religious gatherings
    • Reopening of restaurants and bars with restrictions
    • Elective and outpatient procedures at hospitals
  • STAGE THREE will involve instituting higher-risk activities, but there is no realistic timeline yet for achieving this level. Examples of changes that could be implemented in this stage include:
    • Larger social gatherings
    • Reopening of high-capacity bars and restaurants
    • Lessened restrictions on visits to nursing homes and hospitals
    • Reopening of entertainment venues
    • Larger religious gatherings

Hogan heads the National Governors Association, which also put out its own extensive “Roadmap to Recovery” this week.

The governor’s spokesman Mike Ricci tweeted a list of people on Maryland’s coronavirus response team.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.