ROCKVILLE, MD. (WJZ) — Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich announced Thursday that the county is not changing its policies, and they will be issuing an executive order to extend a stay-at-home order when Gov. Larry Hogan’s order for the state expires at 5 p.m. on Friday.
He did not say for how long the new order would be in effect.
“We believe the local health conditions don’t warrant this change in policy, we do not yet have the metrics that were set up by the CDC and by the governor at the beginning of this, those metrics have not yet been achieved,” Elrich said.
Montgomery County has the second-highest number of cases in the state, behind Prince George’s County.
He said the numbers of people out in public continue to be too high, and nursing homes are taking the brunt of the deaths — but they didn’t originate with the patients in the nursing homes — they came from asymptomatic people who came into the nursing homes.
“I think of it as the canary in the coal mine, they are the example of what happens when you have asymptomatic people in a population and they come in contact with other people and if you’re not adequately protected, adequately distanced, if the workspaces aren’t safe, people get sick,” he said.
He said their hospital capacity remains high, with four out of the six hospitals in the area at capacity for ICU beds.
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He added that the numbers that came out Thursday morning, over 1,000 new cases in the state, are not the numbers that warrant opening up the state.
“I don’t want to be the place that opens up and creates an attractive nuisance,” he said, adding he didn’t want people coming down to go to restaurants and stores from other areas to Montgomery County.
Montgomery County currently has over 7,000 cases, and almost 400 people have died of the virus.
“The sooner we knock these numbers down, the sooner we go back to normal,” Elrich said, adding they will change the rules as soon as the science says they can change the rules.
Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said they are creating an advisory panel of local experts to provide more insights to guide the criteria to reopen the county.
They are looking at the number of new cases and expand their testing capacity, as well as finding asymptomatic cases to cut down on transmissions of the virus.
“We’re looking at a sustained decrease of 14 days of new cases in the setting of increased testing,” he said.
He said they’re also looking at factors including a sustained decrease in the hospitalization rate in the county, in the percentage of ICU beds used and decreases in the number of daily deaths, and those coming into emergency rooms who may not require hospitalization but are showing up with COVID-19 related symptoms.
“Those are good measures to determine what is the burden and impact on our health care facilities,” Gayles said, adding they want to see less beds being used- in case of a surge of hospitalizations later on.
Dr. Gayles added a lot of these factors are contingent on testing capacity.
Montgomery County isn’t alone in extending the rules put in place to limit the spread of the coronavirus. Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks issued a stay at home order for Prince George’s County through June 1.