COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Howard County officials added new restrictions on private gatherings as coronavirus cases continue to spike around the county and the state of Maryland. 

County Executive Calvin Ball announced Monday that they are limiting private gatherings to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors. This includes family gatherings, parties, cookouts, parades, festivals, conventions, amateur sporting events, fundraisers, and other gatherings not linked to a business selling merchandise or Recs and Parks. Exempt from this new order are retail stores, restaurants, offices, social clubs, some recreation sports, religious gatherings, wedding receptions, indoor theaters and outdoor entertainment venues. 

Howard County

“We’ve been closely monitoring our data in Howard County, and despite being in a better position than some of our neighboring jurisdictions, the nation-wide increases we’re seeing are also happening here in Howard County. This weekend we surpassed a 5% positivity rate have a case rate of more than 20 per 100,000 people in Howard County,” said Ball. “As we approach Thanksgiving and our winter holidays, it is vital that we act swiftly and thoughtfully to stop this spike in cases, keep our residents safe and healthy.”

Also, all tournaments with out-of-state participants have been cancelled. 

The county’s Recreation and Parks Department is also adding some new restrictions: those who rent indoor facilities or pavilions must adhere to the new 10-person limit for gatherings; there’s now a no-spectator policy for indoor sports programs; only one parent or guardian is allowed per player at outdoor games leagues and tournaments.

The Robinson Nature Center, historic sites, Athletic Center in three community centers, including a Roger Carter indoor pool will remain open at reduced capacity.

Ball also announced that they have a 30-day supply of PPE and they have surpassed their goal of 6500 administered tests per week — reaching 10,000 tests last week. 

As we approach Thanksgiving, and our winter holidays, it is vital that we act swiftly and thoughtfully to stop this spike in cases, keep our residents safe and well, and continue to support our business community,” Ball said. “Our contact tracing efforts show that a majority of transmission of the COVID 19 virus has been from close relatives, family and friends.”

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.

CBS Baltimore Staff

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