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Johns Hopkins Doctor Says It May Be Time To Roll Back Bar, Restaurant Reopenings

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- People lined up outside of the Baltimore City Convention Center to get tested for the coronavirus as Maryland recorded yet another day with more than 700 new cases—the third this week.

The positivity rate was down slightly and remains below five percent.

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There were two fewer hospitalizations, with 434 current patients statewide. The Maryland Department of Health reported 12 more deaths Friday, bringing the total to 3,227 lives lost since the pandemic began.

Latest COVID Dashboard
Maryland statistics for Friday, July 17, 2020 from Maryland Department of Health

There have been double-digit percentage increases in cases across the region over the past 30 days.


Dr. Melissa Marx is leading Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's support of Baltimore City's coronavirus response.

"We are going to experience increases as the country experiences increases in cases, but we can make local decisions carefully," Marx said.

"It's important that the data be driving the decision making in Maryland as it is in Baltimore, and the more we let the experts and data drive decision making, the sooner we will be out of this. We are on an upswing, and I think we will be on an upswing for a while."

She spoke to WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren about the increasing numbers in Southeast Baltimore zip code 21224 which includes Canton and Highlandtown along with some parts of Baltimore County.

Baltimore City Health Department
Photo Courtesy Of The Baltimore City Health Department

21224 has an average of 28.4 cases for every one thousand people.

"That zip code includes a lot of essential workers, a lot of people who live in more crowded environments, who have limited access to healthcare. Those are all factors associated with transmission of COVID—19," she said.

Baltimore City Health Department 2

Marx says it may be time to roll back some of the bar and restaurant re-openings.

Neighboring Pennsylvania's governor did so this week.

"In my mind, yes, it is time to consider what we can do to provide an environment for cases to go down and not up," Marx said. "From what we're seeing in the rest of the country, we do think it is the bars, the restaurants, the places were especially young people congregate that are leading to these increases."

Among the newly-reported cases in our area is employee at the Compass Pointe golf course in Pasadena, Anne Arundel County.

The county's department of health wrote in a statement, "The employee, who worked outdoors, was last at the golf course on Sunday, July 12. In coordination with the County Department of Recreation and Parks, two other employees have been identified as close contacts and notified to quarantine for 14 days. The employees all worked outdoors and risk of exposure to patrons is low. At this time the golf courses will remain open."

Also an employee at the city's Quarantine Road landfill tested positive.

Three employees at the post office in Brooklyn have also tested positive.

In a new interview on Good Morning America, Governor Larry Hogan again lashed out at the Trump Administration's response.

"The president still ought to focus on listening to people like Dr. Anthony Fauci, listening to the folks at the CDC and really taking the really good advice of some of the people on his team who are working hard and doing a good job—rather than changing their message and changing the position," Governor Hogan said. "Sometimes I think he just reacts. He's his own worst enemy by coming out and just tweeting something that makes no sense and goes against what everyone else in the administration is saying."

This week, the Trump administration instructed hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in reporting their coronavirus data to the government each day.

Governor Hogan and the National Governors Association he chairs have demanded a 30-day delay in those new reporting requirements.

"To demand these changes be made in a matter of hours is unreasonable, but to take it a step further and threaten to jeopardize supplies of remdesivir is unconscionable. A delay is clearly in the best interests of our patients, hospitals, and health departments," Hogan tweeted Friday.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department's website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ's coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

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