Friday Five | November 20, 2020

COVID-19 cases are surging in Maryland and across the country. The Maryland Department of Health regularly updates its data in order to keep Marylanders informed about trends in cases, hospitalizations, and other metrics. It is abundantly clear that we must remain vigilant in following federal, state, local, and CDC guidance. We must continue to work together to do the things necessary to slow the spread in order to keep Maryland open for business and on the road to recovery.

#MasksOnMaryland


Office Notice: The Maryland Chamber of Commerce office will be closed on Thursday, November 26 and Friday, November 27. We hope you have a great Thanksgiving holiday.


Each Friday, the Maryland Chamber will bring you the top five news stories from the intersection of business and government. Here are this week’s top five stories.


 1. Restrictions Tightened in Wake of Rising COVID Cases

For the second time this month, Governor Larry Hogan announced on Tuesday that tighter restrictions are needed in response to rising COVID-19 cases around Maryland, many of which are occurring in rural areas of the state.

The governor’s announcements included:

The Governor stressed that while many people are feeling “COVID fatigue” it’s important to remain vigilant and wear a mask. He added, “Your family and your friends are counting on you. Your neighbors are counting on you. And your fellow Marylanders are counting on you to stay ‘Maryland Strong.’”

The added restrictions will go into effect at 5 p.m., Friday, November 20.


2. Download the MD COVID Contact Tracing App  

Contact tracing is a critical tool used to decrease the spread of infectious diseases. It has been used effectively during other public health emergencies and is important in helping control the spread of COVID-19. Contact tracing is simply the process of identifying people who may have come into close contact with an individual who is ill with COVID-19 and letting them know they may have been infected. On Tuesday, November 10, Maryland rolled out a COVID-19 contact tracing app and the Maryland Department of Health is asking residents to opt-in for an automatic alert if they may have been exposed to someone with the virus. The state is aiming to use the voluntary MD COVID Alert app as a supplement to conventional contact tracing.

Users who enable the app will get a notification if they came in close contact with someone who eventually is diagnosed with coronavirus. The notification will list the approximate date of exposure, but no personal information. MD COVID Alert works using Bluetooth technology and recording what other phone users have been near recently but won’t track your location.

Android users must download the free app and iPhone users can agree to join in their settings. You can learn more and view the state’s contact tracing data by visiting their website.


3. Maryland Department of Commerce Releases Fiscal 2020 Annual Report

On Wednesday, the Maryland Department of Commerce released its Fiscal 2020 Annual Report, which showcases the ways in which the Department worked to help Maryland businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, Commerce has provided more than $185 million to small businesses, nonprofits, and arts organizations impacted by COVID-19, and is in the process of disbursing another $110 million in COVID-19 relief, including additional small business grants, support for tourism marketing, and funding for local jurisdictions to disburse to restaurants.

View the report here.


4. Maryland Company Donates PPE to Teachers and Staff

Hardwire, LLC, a manufacturing company based in Pocomoke City, has donated 200,000 face shields for use by public school teachers, faculty, and staff statewide. The donation was announced Monday at Annapolis High School with Governor Hogan in attendance. Hogan noted that the donation helps to further boost the state’s stockpile of PPE, which Maryland has now acquired a 90-day-emergency supply of PPE.

Hardwire CEO George Tunis said his goal is to ensure front-line employees are safe when those teachers and staff return to teaching in person.

Read the full story here.


5. Pipeline for Lower Eastern Shore Gets MDE Approval 

The Maryland Department of the Environment signed off on the tidal wetlands license needed for Chesapeake Utilities Companies natural gas pipeline project to proceed. The pipeline project will bring much-needed natural gas to key institutions in Somerset County, primarily the University of Maryland Eastern Shore and the Eastern Correctional Institution, and attract more businesses to the area.

Currently, Somerset County is one of only three Maryland counties whose residents do not have access to natural gas as an energy source. The switch to natural gas will also allow anchor institutions like UMES and the Eastern Correctional Institution to switch away from other methods of energy generation like oil and burning wood chips.

The next step in the process is for the project to go before the Board of Public Works, which some believe could be as early as one month away. View the Baltimore Sun article here.


Check out our Maryland Chamber Events Page for all of our Upcoming Webinars, Briefings, and Sponsored Events!


Upcoming calendar of legislative briefings and hearings

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

  • 10:00 a.m. – Commission on Environmental Justice and Sustainable Communities

Wearing a mask in public lets us live life more safely. And it keeps you and everyone around you better protected from coronavirus. The more we mask together, the faster we get back to enjoying life…together. So, just carry on, masks on, Maryland.

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