ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan on Friday took more action in the state's fight against COVID-19.
With Maryland projected to lose $2.8 billion of revenue through fiscal year 2020. Hogan ordered an immediate budget freeze on all state spending across all agencies.
At the same time, Hogan has also issued a state hiring freeze, which will include a review by the Department of Budget and Management to recommend budget cuts at state agencies.
According to the governor, the state will tap into and spend possibly all of the money in the state's Rainy Day Fund.
In response to complaints from citizens unable to file for unemployment, Hogan called the delays "completely unacceptable."
"Marylanders no matter how or when they file, will get the help they need and receive every single penny they are entitled to as quickly as possible," said Hogan.
Labor Secretary Tiffany Robinson says the department is doubling its staff to process unemployment claims faster, including additional Saturday hours by phone.
To make sure the state saves money, Hogan said he wont approve any bills passed by the state legislature requiring spending, "I want to be clear that it is unlikely that any bills that require increased spending will be signed into law.”
Hogan also announced that he is ratifying the State Board of Elections plan for residents to vote by mail for the June 2 primary election. For those with special needs, or unable to vote by mail some polling places will be open for in person voting.
Maryland is also setting up a decontamination site for personal protection equipment at BWI airport, which will allow for up to 80,000 N95 respirator masks to be cleaned and sanitized per day.
The Governor said Maryland is making a $2.5 million investment to partner with the UMD School of Medicine towards a COVID-19 testing initiative, that in the future could produce 20,000 daily tests.
Testing samples will be processed on robotic platforms with automated technologies housed in a laboratory.
Hogan also provided an update on the newly formed strike teams tasked with helping out affected nursing homes and assisted livings.
So far teams have responded to nine nursing homes, and 15 group homes for medically fragile children.
A new online registry is being launched for COVID-19 survivors to share their experiences and lend support to others coping with the virus.
Finally, amid a stay-at-home order for all non-essential workers, Hogan declared the Easter Bunny an essential worker allowing for the delivery of Easter baskets to Maryland children.”
Currently there are at least 6,968 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland with 171 deaths. There have also been 37,480 negative cases.
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