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Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371, or on Twitter @teresamcminn1

Hogan presser 7-15-21

Gov. Larry Hogan announces that he is ending a state of emergency for COVID-19 on July 1. Hogan’s announcement came one year and three months since Maryland confirmed its first cases of the coronavirus.

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland’s COVID-19 emergency restrictions and mandates will end July 1, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

Masks or face coverings will not be required anywhere in the state, including schools, camps and childcare facilities.

Businesses and other workplaces may set their own policies, however.

“It is an incredible day, and there were days I wasn’t sure we would ever get here,” Hogan said and added he felt emotional.

“It is truly a time for celebration, but I ask that you take a moment to remember those 9,472 lives that we lost, and that we give thanks for the health care heroes who saved so many other lives and the citizen soldiers of the Maryland National Guard who answered the call,” Hogan said.

“And remember more than anything that each and every one of you, by your actions, has made this day possible,” he said. “I’m so proud of our state, and I’m grateful to have had this honor to serve as your governor.”

Also on July 1, Maryland will begin a 45-day grace period through Aug. 15, where certain regulations — including time to renew an expired driver’s license and extension of the moratorium on evictions related to the virus — will continue to be relaxed to help folks transition from the pandemic.

As of Tuesday, Maryland had administered more than 6.5 million COVID-19 vaccines.

That exceeded the state’s goal for 70% of all adults to be vaccinated by Memorial Day.

More than 72% of Marylanders 18 years and older, and nearly 90% of state residents older that 65 have been vaccinated.

“That’s a faster rate than the nation and faster than most other states in the country,” Hogan said. “And as the number of vaccinated Marylanders continues to grow, the number of infections continues to fall.”

In January, Maryland’s COVID-19 case rate per 100,000 people was 53.39 and on Tuesday was down to 1.57, “the lowest since the very first days of the pandemic and the second lowest in America,” Hogan said.

Also at the beginning of the year, COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state reached nearly 2,000 and Tuesday were below 200, which marks the lowest level since March 2020.

While the end of the state of emergency is an important step in the recovery from COVID-19, it does not mean the virus and its variants no longer pose any threat.

“If you have been vaccinated, you are safe,” Hogan said. “But those who have not gotten vaccinated will continue to be at risk. At this point there’s simply no excuse for not getting vaccinated. The vaccines are safe, effective and readily available everywhere.”

While some Maryland hospital systems said they will require COVID-19 vaccination for their employees, the state will not enforce such mandates.

“It’s obviously really important for health care workers in a hospital setting who are coming in contact with so many cases and patients, that they should be to protect themselves,” Hogan said. “And that’s why our very first vaccines in December of last year went to the hospitals.”

Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland’s deputy health secretary, said roughly 65 people across the state were in intensive care unit beds with COVID-19-related illnesses Tuesday.

“The people who are getting sick and certainly the sickest are those primarily who remain unvaccinated,” she said. “So, we encourage everyone to get vaccinated.”

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