The United States Surgeon General will provide an update on Baltimore’s response to the coronavirus pandemic alongside local health officials Friday afternoon.
Vice Admiral Jerome M. Adams will join Health Commissioner Dr. Letitia Dzirasa at the Baltimore Convention Center, hours before the city is set to loosen COVID-19 restrictions on indoor dining while tightening other rules related to indoor gatherings.
The city is still seeing troubling trends in new cases, deaths and hospital utilization rates. It has reported more than 12,200 cases as of Friday, with nearly 400 confirmed deaths.
Dr. Deborah Birx, head of President Donald Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, recently singled out Baltimore as one of the nation’s areas of concern for coronavirus outbreaks.
As of Friday evening, restaurants can resume indoor dining at 25% capacity — a move Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young described as an attempt to help restaurants weather the financial impact of the ongoing public health crisis.
At the same time, he moved to further restrict other indoor gatherings. Religious services, malls, casinos and indoor recreation establishments, like bowling alleys, will all be capped at 25% capacity or 25 people, whichever is lower.
These limits are stricter than those statewide, which require such buildings to be capped at half-capacity.
Some public health experts and City Council members have criticized Young for moving to relax rules on restaurants when community transmission is still of grave concern.
“We know indoor spaces with inadequate ventilation with lots of people are places of greatest risk,” said Dr. Tom Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “While the city has a high positive rate and a high incidence of the disease, I would not be advising we reopen any of those large indoor spaces.”
Baltimore Sun reporter Jean Marbella contributed to this article.
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