Gov. Larry Hogan once again pleaded Thursday for more economic relief from Congress, saying that struggling Maryland residents and businesses are “at the end of their rope” due to the hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking at his second State House news conference in three days regarding efforts to slow the spread of the virus, Hogan announced he had signed an executive order that will provide more economic relief to businesses and individuals.
But he warned it won’t be enough unless Congress breaks its stalemate on a new coronavirus relief package and provides more help.
“People are on a lifeline. They are at the end of their rope,” Hogan (R) said. “We are coming up to the holidays and the end of the year. We are going to have more people unemployed, and we are going to lose more businesses if we don’t get this help.”
Congress has not passed a coronavirus relief package since the $2.2 trillion CARES Act was passed on March 27. Most of that money has been spent or is set to expire by the end of the year.
Hogan’s pleas for more help echoed many of the public comments he has made in recent weeks. He said he has been in touch with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and leaders in the Senate about receiving more federal help.
On the state level, Hogan said, “We are exhausting and draining every resource we can to try and keep our Marylanders alive, keep them paying their bills, keep our small businesses in businesses until they get their job done and get [help] to us. We only have this much left.”
In order to help, Hogan signed an executive order that will shield businesses from sudden or substantial increases in their unemployment taxes.
He also directed the Department of Commerce to forgive $75 million in emergency loans that the state provided to business during the first round of relief and convert them all to grants. He allocated $37 million for affordable housing, $94 million to help treat and prevent diabetes, which is the most prevalent comorbidity in coronavirus deaths, and $10 million for victim and youth services and law enforcement.
Hogan’s remarks were delivered as Maryland surpassed more than 2,000 new coronavirus infections for the 20th straight day and statewide hospitalizations reached their high point of the pandemic at 1,720, including 416 in intensive care.
In Frederick County, there were 152 new cases, and hospitalizations fell slightly from Wednesday’s all-time high of the pandemic (58) to 52. That includes seven in intensive care.
Asked if he planned on imposing more restrictions to slow the spread of the virus, Hogan pointed to the actions he had already taken and said further restrictions could be “a death sentence for a number of small businesses.”
“We will take those actions only when we absolutely deem them to be essential to saving lives and stopping the hospitals from overflowing,” he said.
He expressed surprise the City of Baltimore and Anne Arundel County had moved to shut down outdoor dining at restaurants, pointing to conversations with health experts that indicated outdoor dining was safe and the millions of dollars the state has provided to local jurisdictions for heaters, tents and filtration systems at restaurants.
“It’s not something that I think I would have done,” Hogan said.