BALTIMORE (WMAR) — It's big news for Maryland. Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan announced the reopening of indoor dining, gyms, malls and casinos by next weekend. But the news is met with concern by a member of his Coronavirus Response team.
Johns Hopkins doctor Tom Inglesby is worried about a resurgence of cases. He says we need more time to see how previous reopenings and the recent protests impact case numbers before opening up more businesses.
"I'm worried that people have accepted where we are as the new normal and it’s not normal," said Inglesby.
Dr. Inglesby said the continued rise of COVID-19 cases in Maryland shouldn’t be accepted as normal.
"Some countries have driven there cases down to 0 so are we resigned to losing 1,000 Americans a day until we have a vaccine? I hope we aren’t," said Inglesby.
He is the director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
He said he’s been supportive of Hogans actions up until yesterday’s announcements to reopen indoor dining, gyms, casinos and malls over the next week.
"We know there have been incredible economic loses and terrible hardship around the country because of social distancing but to move too rapidly to open the economy broadly poses a high risk of accelerating this disease," said Inglesby.
While cases, hospitalizations and ICU bed numbers are trending down, we still had over 700 new cases and 31 deaths in Maryland in the last 24 hours.
He thinks we need to take more time, at least a few more weeks, to see how previous reopenings and the recent protests impact the case numbers before opening up more things.
"If we do end limits to indoor gatherings. If we do restart conventions. If we do open casinos and restaurants and we do all these things at once, coming on the heels of doing a number of other things 12 days ago, I worry that we will increase the risk of having a resurgence of cases," said Inglesby.
He said there is some data that shows other states that have reopened have had a rise in cases, while others have not, so there's no way to know for sure if it will happen in Maryland.
"What we do know is that this virus transmits person to person so more activity that’s allowed that’s based on close personal interaction, the more opportunities there will be for transmission," said Inglesby.
"The future course of the epidemic is all about what our political leaders decide and how we all act personally to try to limit the spread of this disease.
He recommends continuing to avoid large indoor gatherings and encourages people wear masks and telecommute when possible.
He also has advice for protesters. He said while we supports the reason for the protests, everyone needs to be ready for the possible rise in cases because of the protests and there are actions that can lower the risk. He recommends masks, hand sanitizer and the use of noise makers instead of shouting.
For law enforcement at the protests, he said officers should not use tear gas because that makes people cough and injures their respiratory tracks.
"Law enforcement should provide masks at protests wherever it can, acting as guardians for the people it is protecting," said Inglesby.