BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore city will remain under a stay at home order, despite the governor announcing that he would lift Maryland’s stay at home order Friday beginning at 5 p.m.
Mayor Jack Young made the announcement Thursday afternoon during a press conference and blamed Gov. Hogan for a lack of testing.
“I don’t feel comfortable sending residents including young children and older adults back out into the public and this time,” Young announced. “Today I’m announcing that Baltimore city will keep this local stay at home order and effect.”
“The simple truth is that we need more tests to safely reopen the city of Baltimore,” he added.
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He said when the city would reopen”will be guided by the data and science.”
“This decision has been made after close consultation with our public health experts,” Young said.
“To date, the state has failed to provide local jurisdiction jurisdictions, including Baltimore City, with the testing resources we need to be able to safely be open,” he added. ” [We would] very much like to reopen but until the state steps up to the plate and provide us with testing help, it would be irresponsible for us to relax our restrictions, based on Baltimore’s city population.”
“The simple truth is that we need more tests to safely reopen the city of Baltimore,” Young continued. “I absolutely want to be able to open churches and retail establishment, but the state has a responsibility in this too. Without more testing capacity, it will be irresponsible to begin to openly process.”
City Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa said there was a increase of 29 positive cases Thursday, bringing the total to 3,505, as well as six more deaths bringing out total to 183 deaths. She said the city would like more access to test kits, swabs to continue to test at the community level.
“The fact remains that not enough tests have been made available to Baltimore City, a situation shared by many other Maryland jurisdictions,” she added. “Until we have received more test kits from the state, it is very difficult to gather the accurate information necessary to plan for a safe reopening of the city.”
Dzirasa also said contact tracers are having difficulties collecting information from positive coronavirus patients.
“Right now contact traces from the Baltimore City Health Department and the Maryland Department of Health are in the process of reaching out to residents who have tested positive for COVID-19. They’re reaching out to ask about their movements during the time they were able to spread disease, and to ask them about the people that may have been in close contact with,” she said. “Our teams reporting that some residents are choosing not to answer the call or refusing to provide the information being asked.”
“Please answer the phone when you get the contact tracing calls, please answer the questions honestly and be sure to provide the information that our contact traces are asking for these calls are confidential,” she added.
City officials are concerned that people from Baltimore could spread the virus elsewhere as well as people from outside jurisdictions could bring the virus to the city.
School officials also announced that although distance learning will continue for city school students, the school buildings will remain closed.
“We are developing guidance for the safe pickup of personal items at schools by students, families and school staff as well as the drop off of school materials in line with appropriate social distancing this guidance will be available on Monday,” said City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises.
Schools are planning virtual graduations by school for seniors between June 10 and June 17.
“In the meantime, we will be celebrating their success through citywide virtual events like the citywide seniors spirit week everyday next week,” Santelises said.
With the stay at home order remaining in effect, the following activities statuses remain for all residents:
- Going to the grocery store
- Going to the pharmacy
- Travel for health treatment for yourself, a family member, or a pet
- Traveling to work (essential personnel)
- Travel to work (non-essential personnel) – individuals may travel to their non-essential business to maintain property and conduct minimal operations
- Travel for certain preventive and screening health-related services for yourself, a family member or a pet. Residents are encouraged to use their best judgment in scheduling preventive health care appointments
- Outdoor exercise – individual outdoor exercise while practicing social distancing is permitted, however group fitness classes are unallowable
- In-person religious services – in-person religious services may only be offered in parking areas with attendees remaining inside their appropriately spaced vehicles
- Restaurants and bars – carry out and delivery service is allowed. In-facility service is not allowed
- Gatherings larger than 10 persons
- Programming at Senior Centers
- Fitness Centers
- Enclosed Malls
- Recreational Establishments