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State of Emergency to end in Baltimore County

John Lee
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski. Credit: John Lee

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski is going to allow a state of emergency that politically divided the county council to expire Wednesday.

The current state of emergency expires November 3.

"Over the last three weeks we've seen both our case rates and our hospitalizations drop almost 40%," Olszewski said.

The county’s COVID positivity rate has been steadily declining and now stands at 3.13%.

Olszewski’s original county state of emergency expired in July. He reinstated it in August when the Delta variant was causing an increase in COVID-19 cases. Olszewski said the declaration allowed the county to spend money more quickly on things like providing booster shots. He said it was also used to help restaurants and bars expand outdoor dining by closing streets and using parking lots. He said that part will remain in effect through executive order for 60 days.

"So, it will be through the end of the year, through the new year."

Olszewski said they may propose legislation so expanded outdoor dining can continue next year.

Olszewski needed the county council to extend the state of emergency for 30 days twice, and each time it did so on a partisan 4-3 vote. The four Democrats on the council sided with their fellow Democrat, Olszewski, while the three Republicans voted against.

The Republican members of the council said it was unnecessary because the county had been functioning fine without it.

When the council debated extending the state of emergency last month Republican Todd Crandell said, “We’re legislating something that we don’t need to put power in the hands of an executive branch that doesn’t need it.”

The council vote mirrored national polling which showed Democrats are more likely to be in favor of COVID-related government actions while Republicans tend to oppose them.

John Lee is a reporter for WYPR covering Baltimore County. @JohnWesleyLee2
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