Gayles Says Further Restrictions Needed ‘Ultimately to Curb the Numbers’

Montgomery County Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles said the county continues to look at contact tracing data and may reinstate further COVID-19 restrictions.

“I cannot emphasize enough the seriousness of where we stand in terms of the numbers,” Gayles said at a county council meeting Tuesday, “and in terms of the potential actions that may need to be taken to curb the continued and sustained increase in cases that we’re seeing right now.”

On Tuesday morning, the state reported 2,149 new COVID-19 cases. Gayles said this is the second-highest daily total in the state during the pandemic, after Saturday when there were over 2,300 new cases reported. In Montgomery County, 366 new coronavirus cases were reported Tuesday. This is the third-highest number of new cases since March and the fifth consecutive day the daily increase is greater than 200 cases.

Gayles said the county will get an update on contact tracing from the state on Wednesday. “We will look into that further.” He said more restrictions will ultimately be necessary to make a difference in the numbers. “You know, we’re going to have to have some further restrictions, really, ultimately to curb the numbers where we are,” Gayles said.

Later on Tuesday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference reinstating COVID-19 measures. He announced that beginning Friday at 5 p.m., all food and drink establishments must close after 10 p.m. except for carryout. Hogan also introduced measures for nursing homes and hospitals.

Some new restrictions that Hogan announced on Tuesday were already in place or are stricter in Montgomery County. Montgomery County already stopped selling alcohol for on-premise consumption after 10 p.m. Also, Hogan said that all retail and religious facilities will have to revert back to stage two of reopening and operate at 50% capacity. Montgomery County’s capacity limit at those establishments has been 25% since Nov. 13.

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