Mayor Young Warns Baltimoreans Not To Reverse Encouraging COVID-19 Trends On Labor Day Weekend
The coronavirus is not taking time off for Labor Day, Baltimore City Mayor Jack Young said, and residents should remain cautious as they enter the long holiday weekend known for cookouts, parties and one last summer hurrah.
“Now is still not the time to be planning large parties, cookouts, celebrations or religious events,” the Democrat said during a Friday morning news conference. “We're still in a pandemic, one that's built to spread rapidly in large groups. I know people are not looking to catch COVID, but COVID is looking for you.”
Batlimoreans should not host cookouts with people outside of their household, the Democrat said. And they should refrain from large gatherings. Though parts of Maryland are moving into Gov. Hogan’s third and final phase of reopening, Baltimore is simply not yet ready and must focus on harm reduction, he said.
“We do not want to erase the gains we've made over the past month by loosening restrictions now, especially right before a time known to have large gatherings of family and friends,” the mayor said.
Baltimore has seen encouraging trends in three key COVID indicators: new cases, deaths and test positivity rates. Between August 1 and August 26, the 7-day average for the number of new COVID cases in the city declined by 57%, while deaths declined by 23%.
Between August 1 and August 25, the city’s test positivity rate dropped from 5.5% to 3.3%.
Nevertheless, the city remains concerned with the high chance of disease transmission associated with large social gatherings such as cookouts, said Jennifer Martin, the city health department’s Deputy Commissioner for Population Health and Disease Prevention, said.
“These settings, where a combination of factors including relaxed social distancing, improper or absent use of face coverings, and being around others for extended periods of time, can elevate the risk of COVID exposure and transmission,” Martin said. “As we head into a holiday weekend, it is critically important that all residents remember that attending large gatherings carries a higher risk of possible transmission.”
Wearing a mask when in public, practicing social distancing and frequently washing your hands will reduce the spread of the coronavirus throughout Baltimore and enable the Young administration to continue lifting restrictions, she said.
During the news conference, Mayor Young also announced loosened coronavirus-related restrictions to take effect Tuesday at 5 p.m., including increasing maximum capacity from 25% to 50%at indoor restaurants, religious facilities, retail establishments and malls, indoor recreation establishments and casinos from 25% to 50%.