ANNAPOLIS — Effective Friday, Maryland's statewide order that requires people to wear face coverings to slow the spread of COVID-19 will be expanded.
In addition to retail and food service establishments, the new order will require masks to be worn in public spaces of all businesses across the state, as well as outdoor public areas where physical distancing is not possible.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday said the order "is fact-based, apolitical, and solidly grounded in science."
The announcement came as the state reached 86,285 cases, with 761 new positive test results and 20 deaths in the past 24 hours.
Of Maryland's 24 jurisdictions, all but Calvert and Cecil counties have met the goal of testing at least 10 percent of their population for COVID-19.
Garrett County is third from the bottom of the list at 10.9%, while Allegany County is at 16.6%.
Of all positive COVID-19 cases across the state, data shows 25%, which represents the largest group of impacted employees, came from the healthcare industry, followed closely by 23% of people that work in offices and don’t interact with the public.
“People who can telework must continue to do so, and employers should give employees every opportunity to continue to telework,” Hogan said.
Contact tracing also identified high-risk recreational activities.
According to data from interviews, 44% of positive COVID-19 cases came from people who had attended a family gathering, 23% were at a house party, and 21% participated in an outdoor event.
Hogan talked of a recent “dramatic shift in infections” in Maryland's younger population.
“Marylanders under the age of 35 are now testing positive at a rate that is 76.8% higher than the positivity rate for Marylanders aged 35 and older,” Hogan said.
The state is also closely monitoring hospitalizations, which includes a 28% increase in the past two weeks and an uptick in younger patients that require acute care.
“It's further proof that this virus can impact anyone anywhere at any age,” he said.
The state will remain under stage two of the governor’s recovery plan and not move to the next phase “until it is safe,” Hogan said.
The state continues to make unlimited quantities of tests available to any jurisdiction that needs them, Hogan said.
Additionally, Marylanders are advised to use state-operated testing sites that send specimens to a lab at the University of Maryland Baltimore.
“We are turning around our test results in just 24 to 48 hours,” Hogan said. “Unfortunately, because of the spikes and delays in other states, commercial labs across the country are not returning results for 10 days to as much as two weeks, which is completely unacceptable.”
The governor also directed the Maryland Department of Health to issue an advisory for all out-of-state travel.
Marylanders are “strongly” urged to avoid states with COVID-19 positivity rates of 10% or higher, which includes Florida, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, Arizona, Alabama, South Carolina, Nebraska and Idaho.
Anyone that had to travel to one of those locations should immediately get tested for COVID-19 and self-quarantine while awaiting test results, Hogan said.
He also announced that Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Frances Phillips will retire, and be replaced by Dr. Jinlene Chan.
New local cases
The Garrett County Health Department Wednesday reported 44 residents in total have tested positive for COVID-19.
At that time, the Allegany County Health Department reported four new cases of COVID-19, bringing the county’s cumulative total to 262.
The latest cases include a female in her 30s, a female in her 70s, a male in his 30s and a male in his 60s.
“Only the female in her 70s has required hospitalization,” ACHD said via press release.