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Baltimore County To Follow Governor's Lead On Reopening

Rachel Baye / WYPR


  When Gov. Larry Hogan’s amended order allowing certain businesses to reopen takes effect Friday at 5 p.m., Baltimore County businesses will be among those allowed to open. 


Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski plans to repeal all local executive orders keeping businesses closed and restricting activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19, he announced Thursday. Going forward, the county will follow the governor’s lead when it comes to the state’s COVID-19 recovery plan.


Olszewski said the “patchwork approach” to COVID-19-related rules has been problematic.


“It's created confusion for the people who live across this county and state,” Olszewski said. “We know that a patchwork approach has put businesses on an uneven playing field, and we know that the public health benefits have been muted by having differing approaches in different jurisdictions across our state.”


Olszewski also reminded residents that the virus remains a threat. He encouraged businesses to exercise caution and residents to stay home whenever possible. 


For now, he said the county’s COVID-19 data is encouraging, especially a 7.9% positivity rate — the portion of COVID-19 tests that are positive for the virus. That’s lower than the state’s rate of 8.9%, though still higher than the 5% positivity rate the World Health Organization uses as the benchmark to determine whether it’s safe to reopen businesses.


Olszewski also noted that the county has sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment and robust testing and contact tracing programs in place.


But Olszewski didn’t rule out breaking with Hogan to issue new restrictions in the future.


“We will reserve the right to continue to monitor the data,” Olszewski said. “And if we see a significant increase, we will take action to make sure our residents are safe.”

Rachel Baye is a senior reporter and editor in WYPR's newsroom.
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