Baltimore City will maintain its current coronavirus-related restrictions, including its prohibition on indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants, Mayor Brandon Scott announced Friday.
On his first full day as mayor on Dec. 9, Scott announced new orders to curtail the spread of coronavirus, which went into effect Dec. 11.
Although Baltimore City saw reductions in several key metrics following the implementation of those restrictions, the city also saw slight increases this week likely related to holiday travel and gatherings, Baltimore Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa said on Friday.
“We have not seen a return to normal or moved away from what we know is widespread community transmission,” she said.
Dzirasa added that coronavirus-related hospitalizations remain high as 90% of the city’s intensive care unit beds are in use and 89% of acute care beds are in use.
“Keeping high-risk locations closed gives time for hospitalization rates to decrease and to ensure that our hospitals have enough space and staff to deliver high quality, life-saving care to the patients coming through their doors,” Dzirasa said.
Scott said he understands the frustration of restaurant workers and other businesses affected by the modified phase 1 restrictions, but he is concerned about the Baltimoreans who have died from coronavirus.
Maryland officials have reported a total of 723 deaths in Baltimore City as of Friday morning, according to the Maryland Department of Health’s COVID-19 Case Map Dashboard.
“We’re going to be there to support our businesses,” Scott said. “We’re going to be there to do whatever we can do to make sure that they remain strong and make it through this. Together we will do that. But we will not put money over people.”
Scott added that his administration will work with the Maryland congressional delegation to provide financial support to struggling businesses.
The December orders will remain in place while Scott continues to consult with Dzirasa and public health partners as they evaluate the city’s coronavirus data, the mayor said.
Scott said he will provide another update on Jan. 15 regarding the city’s coronavirus guidelines. Any change to the guidelines will be given one week in advance to allow businesses enough time to implement them.
Dzirasa said the Baltimore City Health Department has worked with the Maryland Department of Health and other health departments to develop priority groups to ensure “near consistent prioritization” across Maryland.
The city health department has distributed 842 vaccine doses to first responders, frontline judiciary staff and other individuals in the first three days of vaccination at Under Armour’s Port Covington Campus, Dzirasa said.
She added that thousands of vaccine doses have also been distributed to hospital employees and resident sof senior and assisted living facilities.
Scott said he plans to reach out to management of the Baltimore Ravens and Baltimore Orioles to discuss using M&T Bank Stadium and Oriole Park at Camden Yards for vaccine distribution.