Jan Gardner (copy)

County Executive Jan Gardner

County Executive Jan Gardner announced additional restrictions on indoor gatherings and indoor recreation capacity on Thursday, but she stopped short of further actions with restaurants, bars, retail stores and other businesses.

Indoor gatherings should be limited to 15 people. Indoor capacity at recreation facilities — like bowling allies, bingo halls, pool halls, roller and ice skating rinks and social and fraternal clubs — drops to 25 percent but only if current restrictions (50 percent capacity) allow for more than 50 people inside those areas.

Gardner (D) announced those changes as other jurisdictions like the City of Baltimore, Montgomery County and Anne Arundel County have proposed or enacted greater restrictions during the latest surge of the coronavirus pandemic.

The indoor recreation restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. Friday, per an executive order.

Gardner said most of the “I-95 corridor” jurisdictions—Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Prince George’s counties and Baltimore city—have, since the pandemic started, enacted greater restrictions during the pandemic.

Each county is following its own public health advice, Gardner said. She added, however, that counties to the west and Carroll County have less restrictive measures but are also in the middle of a surge.

“There really is a need for regional decision-making and statewide decision-making ... it’s very difficult to effectively do these things in isolation,” Gardner said. “And also, I don’t want to impact business unless I’m going to get a reduction in the spread of the virus.”

That means looking at businesses’ operations and how that correlates to health metrics—cases, hospitalizations, ICU bed use—and whether that will impact spread, Gardner said. Internal discussions about those with county officials—including Health Director Dr. Barbara Brookmyer—occur regularly, the county executive said.

She emphasized public health is the No. 1 priority in her decision-making: “Until we have public health, we can’t have economic health.”

She added greater restrictions are perhaps happening in more densely populated areas in Maryland because of a greater chance of the coronavirus spreading.

She called on people to keep three “Ws” in mind in the coming weeks of the pandemic: Wear face coverings, watch your distance from people and wash your hands.

She later added another “W”: Work from home, when possible.

Brookmyer, who attended Thursday’s briefing and updated county residents about vaccine distribution, reminded them those vaccines are just one layer of protection in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

She also illustrated the importance of the gathering limit, referencing a study from the Georgia Institute of Technology. That study stated if someone is at an event of 25 or more people, the chances of he or she coming into contact with someone who is positive is 44 percent given Frederick County’s current metrics and other conditions.

“If there were 100 people, then that brings it up to 90 percent chance that somebody there is positive,” Brookmyer said of that study. “And by lowering [the gathering size], it does demonstrably reduce the chance that somebody there [has the virus].”

Follow Steve Bohnel on Twitter:

@Steve_Bohnel.

Steve Bohnel is the county government reporter for the Frederick News-Post. He can be reached at sbohnel@newspost.com. He graduated from Temple University, with a journalism degree in May 2017, and is a die-hard Everton F.C. fan.

(25) comments

bosco

More Democrat ignorance and hypocrisy on display. Cuomo bans indoor dining again, but his own statistics tell a different story on the spread of Covid. Only 1.4 percent of the spread of Covid has been traced to restaurants and bars.

https://ny.eater.com/2020/12/11/22169841/restaurants-and-bars-coronavirus-spread-data-new-york

[ninja]

Frankle1

What does Cuomo have to do with Frederick? Gardener didn't alter the current dining restrictions. She's following the state guidance. For all your complaining, I can't imagine you leave the house often anyway, [ninja]. You're always trolling the comments of FNP. [sleep]

vodalone

Just seems to me as a nation we've accepted the terms of the virus. We've become numb to the daily death count as this is a huge country and if it's out of sight it's out of mind. It's a very strange dynamic because there are no guarantees of life or death with this virus, so people can really react based on which side of the story they prefer to pay attention to. Ones will have a family member die and say this is the plague, others will have no symptoms or very mild ones and say it's basically a cold. In a way it's very reflective of our current society and even political climate.

chsalamon

Why won't Jan Gardner put capacity restrictions on the big chain stores? Evidence of her not truly working for our county, but instead causing the virus to continue to spread while ruining our county's small businesses.

bosco

Follow the money. Big chain stores have corporate lawyers ready to file a suit anytime. Small businesses are barely getting by and certainly cannot afford to keep a lawyer on retainer.

Call for civil disobedience are growing in California where the governor imposed draconian shutdown orders while he is out dining in a large group with not a mask in sight. Socialist Democrat hypocrisy.

[ninja]

PurplePickles aka L&M

@Eric/Stimpy

When are you going to list the states where socialism is running amok? You know free health care would be awesome right now what with virus running amok too...How about we follow common sense right now....and just anticipate and prepare for eventual shutdowns, do you want to get this virus under control so when we start vaccinating people we have a fighting chance to get back to normal or what???

Also when do you want to talk about Republican hypocrisy? Cause I think you'll find my list is going to waaaaaaayyyyyy longer than yours. So.......

marinick1

[thumbdown]

PurplePickles aka L&M

@Eric/Stimpy

Speaking of hypocrisy, I think this trumps the Socialist Democrat hypocrisy you were rambling on about...

GOP lawmaker tested COVID positive twice – then went to work without a mask

https://www.rawstory.com/2020/12/gop-lawmaker-tested-positive-twice-then-went-to-work-without-a-mask/

Republican state Representative Stephen Hambley last month tested positive for the deadly coronavirus. Twice. Ignoring state and federal guidelines, he went back to work after just a few days. He reportedly has never received a negative test since his positive tests November 22 and 28.

Now, at least four lawmakers – two Republicans and two Democrats, have tested positive for COVID-19, after spending time alongside Hambley at a House Finance Committee hearing on December 2.

So yeah....my list is going to be waaaaaayyyyy longer than yours...LOL

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

PurplePickles aka L&M

@marinick1

You too tired to type actual words today or do actual words escape you today? I'm glad you like my comments,(the two thumbs up are a nice compliment) I do try and speak to my audience and I'm pleased to see you are listening to me. [wink][wink][ohmy]

Greg F

There should be far more than “civil” disobedience in what is going on in Tx and the GOP willingness to throw out election votes as called for by trump. He is the plague’s best friend and a lover of dictatorship.

Greg F

Oh...and there is you calling out what you wouldn’t with republicans.

FrederickFan

The big chain stores are at 50 percent of capacity just like the smaller retail stores. And this is by order of the Governor. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation being shared by Danny farrar and others. It is so shameful that people intentionally spread misinformation and more ridiculous that people believe it.

FrederickFan

The big box stores have the same limitations as all retail and are at 50 percent of capacity per the Governor. Stop drinking the koolaid. They all have the same rules.

Greg F

Not enforced at all Ffan

FrederickFan

How do you know? Are following around the health department and other inspectors? My guess is they are chasing complaints and most of them are probably against the big boxes.

public-redux

On what basis do you think big chain stores are exempt from capacity restrictions?

threecents

Yah, I don't think big stores are exempt. Because they have more space, they are often more able to keep people distanced. They also tend to be one-stop shopping places - thus minimizing the time and places people get exposed. Like it or not, small shops are generally more dangerous, as far as virus spread goes.

newspostreader

chsalamon - Those restrictions are on the big chain stores. Those stores have so much square feet that their capacity limits are huge. Even cut back to 25%-50% isn't going to change the number of people you see in them because they are still under the limit.

Piedmontgardener

Perfect example of making your own facts to suit a conclusion. Classic Trumpian argument.

marinick1

[thumbup][thumbup]

newspostreader

If people kept their back sides at home and only left for essential purposes, we'd be long past this by now. We have no one to blame but ourselves for not listening. People gathered at Thanksgiving. People gather in the streets. People gathered at political rallies. What did we think was going to happen.

gabrielshorn2013

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup] npr!

threecents

A lot of that is because so many people trust Trump more than they trust scientist. For example a new pole shows a large majority of Republicans still believe there was major fraud in the presidential election. That number would be close to zero if Trump did not claim fraud. He still has a hypnotic hold over his cult, and that cult consists of more than half of all Republicans.

PurplePickles aka L&M

@newspostreader

Well of course, but you know only one side is preaching what you just posted the other side isn't. Most people of one side are doing exactly what you just posted to do, almost all of the other side are doing the exact opposite so....until that side decides to exercise some common sense and critical thinking skills, I don't see much changing for a long time do you?

.....I agree with you 100%, we have ourselves to blame for this. You sow what you reap...Aren't Republicans always preaching about personal responsibility, (that's why they don't like social programs), and yet to think if the Republicans' took some personal responsibility and weren't such hypocrites we probably wouldn't have over 3,000 people dying per day from a preventable death would we? NOPE...

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