Md. lifts limits on dining, stores, religious sites

Cardin, Van Hollen post fed funds estimates

Dorchester Banner
Posted 3/10/21

ANNAPOLIS — With sustained vaccine progress and significant improvements in all of the state’s key data metrics, Governor Larry Hogan on March 9 announced new actions to further ease the …

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Md. lifts limits on dining, stores, religious sites

Cardin, Van Hollen post fed funds estimates


ANNAPOLIS — With sustained vaccine progress and significant improvements in all of the state’s key data metrics, Governor Larry Hogan on March 9 announced new actions to further ease the COVID-19 mitigation measures currently in place.
“With the pace of vaccinations rapidly rising and our health metrics steadily improving, the lifting of these restrictions is a prudent, positive step in the right direction and an important part of our economic recovery,” said Governor Hogan. “These steps are made possible because of Marylanders wearing masks, washing their hands, keeping their distance, and following the public health advice, and because our businesses have carefully followed safe reopening practices and public health guidelines in order to help keep their employees and customers safe.”

The governor was joined by Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz, as well as former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, the state’s senior adviser for public health.
Effective March 12 at 5 p.m.
• CAPACITY LIMITS LIFTED, MASKING AND DISTANCING PROTOCOLS MAINTAINED. Capacity limits will be lifted on outdoor and indoor dining at restaurants and bars, retail businesses, religious facilities, fitness centers, casinos, personal services, and indoor recreational establishments. Bars and restaurants will be open for seated and distanced service only—patrons may not stand at a crowded bar. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.
• LARGE OUTDOOR AND INDOOR VENUES MAY OPERATE AT 50% CAPACITY. Large outdoor and indoor venues may begin operating at 50% capacity. This includes theaters; concert, convention, and wedding venues; racing facilities, and outdoor entertainment and sporting venues. Masking, physical distancing, and other safety protocols will remain in place.
• MEDICAL ADULT DAY CARE CENTERS TO REOPEN. Medical adult day care centers may reopen, with facilities able to set appropriate restrictions and safety measures.
• QUARANTINE REQUIREMENTS LIFTED; TRAVEL ADVISORY REMAINS IN PLACE. Quarantine requirements and other restrictions on out-of-state travel will be lifted. A Maryland Department of Health (MDH) travel advisory will remain in place, and Marylanders continue to be encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 upon their return from out-of-state travel.
The move received support from the National Federation of Independent Business. NFIB State Director in Maryland, Mike O’Halloran said, “This is fantastic news for Maryland small businesses. Since the beginning, these job creators have felt an outsized impact on their shops, restaurants, and stores. Financial assistance got to some but not all and even those who were lucky enough to qualify were hanging on by a thread. Our small business owners and their employees have faced the brunt of this economic crisis, however, lifting capacity restrictions coupled with downward trending infection rates will hopefully mean Maryland is back to business as usual sooner than later.”

Additional orders and guidance
• STATEWIDE MASKING ORDER REMAINS IN EFFECT. Maryland’s statewide masking order remains in full force and effect. This requires the wearing of masks or face coverings at any public indoor facility, including retail establishments, fitness centers, grocery stores, pharmacies, personal service establishments, in the public spaces of all public and private businesses across the state, and when using public transportation. Masks are still required in all outdoor public areas whenever it is not possible to maintain physical distancing.
• TELEWORK. With contact tracing continuing to show some transmission among individuals who are working outside the home, particularly in office settings, the state continues to encourage employers to support telework whenever possible.
• LICENSING AND PERMITTING. The governor’s order authorizing the suspension of license and permitting expirations will sunset on June 30, 2021. Timeframe suspensions made before this order will remain in effect until June 30, though agencies may terminate them earlier. Agencies are explicitly authorized to conduct virtual hearings and meetings. 

Vaccine update
WESTERN MARYLAND MASS VACCINATION SITE. The governor announced that the Western Maryland mass vaccination site in Hagerstown will open one week early on March 25. This will give the state at least one mass vaccination site in each region. The state is in active discussions with jurisdictions that have expressed an interest in hosting a mass vaccination site.

D.C. developments
On March 10, U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) announced estimated funding Maryland will receive following the Senate’s passage of the American Rescue Plan. This package will bring significant resources directly to Maryland to help workers, families, small businesses, and the State and local governments combat COVID-19 and recover from the health and economic impacts of the virus.
“From direct payments to Marylanders working to make ends meet, to an expansion of the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit that will lift thousands of Marylanders out of poverty, the American Rescue Plan is the bold relief our state needs at this moment. This sweeping package also includes critical funds that will go directly to our state and local governments, allowing them to ramp up vaccination efforts and ensure frontline workers stay on the job, while providing more resources for the equitable distribution of the vaccine nationwide,” Senator Van Hollen said.
“Importantly, the American Rescue Plan will provide desperately needed resources to state and local governments and our courageous front-line workers. Americans support this package because they know how much of a real difference it will make in their lives and their communities,” Sen. Cardin said.

State and local government
The American Rescue Plan will provide:
• $3.87 Billion in direct funding to the State of Maryland
• The State will also receive an additional $169 Million for capital projects directly enabling work, education and health monitoring, including remote options in response to the public health emergency
• $1.173 Billion in direct funding to Maryland’s county governments
• $1.14 Billion in direct funding to Maryland’s city and municipal governments
Totaling: $6.355 Billion

Direct Payments
To help Marylanders stay afloat during this economic downturn, the American Rescue Plan will provide:
• 2,516,312 Maryland households with direct payments
Totaling $6.25 Billion in direct payments for Marylanders
Child Tax Credit
The American Rescue Plan expands the Child Tax Credit. In Maryland, it will:
• Assist 52,000 Maryland children out of poverty
• Benefit 1.1 million children – or 85% – of Maryland’s children
Earned Income Tax Credit
To support low-income workers, the American Rescue Plan expands the Earned Income Tax Credit, benefiting:
• 255,000 Maryland workers
Enhanced Unemployment Benefits
The American Rescue Plan will extend expanded unemployment benefits through Sept. 6 that would have expired on March 14, which will benefit:
• More than 300,000 Marylanders currently relying on unemployment benefits
Education and Child Care
To help get Maryland students safely back into the classroom, while providing resouirces schools and educators, the American Rescue Plan includes:
• $1.95 Billion for Maryland K-12 education
• $1.756 Billion for Maryland’s local school districts
• $549 Million for Maryland institutions of higher education
Early childhood education
• $11 Million in Head Start funding

Child care
• An increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit to up to $4,000 for one child or $8,000 for two or more children, and makes the credit fully refundable. This would significantly ease the burden of child care costs for many Maryland families, who pay on average $15,335 annually for infant care and $10,254 for the care of 4-year olds.
• $194 Million in supplemental Child Care Development Block Grants
• $310 Million in Child Care Stabilization Grants
• An additional $9 Million in Child Care Entitlement to States funding
Totaling $513 Million in Maryland child care funding

Online education
• Over $7 Billion for the Federal Communications Committee’s E-Rate program, which will now be able to provide funding to elementary and secondary schools and libraries to supply Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students, staff, and patrons
• More than $2.5 Billion nation-wide in state grants to support K-12 students with disabilities, $200 million to support preschoolers with disabilities, and $250 million for infants and toddlers under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
Health Care
• $7.5 Billion for vaccine distribution and administration
• $1 Billion for vaccine confidence activities
• $7.6 Billion for community health centers
• $6.05 Billion for research, development, manufacturing, production, and purchase of vaccines, therapeutics, and ancillary medical products and supplies
• $500 Million for FDA to continue to evaluate performance, safety, and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.
• $10 Billion for Defense Production Act to procure essential PPE and other medical equipment.
• $47.8 Billion for COVID-19 testing, tracing, and mitigation activities.
• $1.75 Billion for SARS-COV-2 genomic sequencing and surveillance (which will help monitor and identify new strains/variants)
• $500 Million for CDC data modernization.
• $7.66 Billion for public health workforce
Health care affordability and access
• Lowers or eliminates health insurance premiums for millions of Americans who buy insurance through the marketplaces through increased tax credits, reducing premiums by potentially thousands of dollars each year
• Subsidizes 100% of premiums for COBRA continuation coverage to help people who experienced job loss maintain their health coverage
• Allows states to provide Medicaid coverage for one year postpartum to address the maternal health crisis that is disproportionately affecting communities of color
• Increases federal support through Medicaid for home- and community-based services.
• Provides $8.5 billion in provider relief to help struggling rural health care providers and ensure access to care in rural areas

Behavioral health
• $3 Billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Community Mental Health Block Grants
• $420 Million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics
• $140 Million to develop a program to support providers’ mental health and decrease burnout of providers and public safety officers
• $80 Million in new grants for community-based and behavioral health organizations
Small Business
• Additional $7.25 Billion for Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and expanded eligibility for digital news outlets
• $15 Billion for Targeted EIDL Advance Program
• $10 Billion for businesses that haven’t received full EIDL advances from past legislation
• $5 Billion for $5,000 payments to businesses that have suffered an economic loss of greater than 50% and employ not more than 10 employees
• $28.6 Billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund
• Additional $1.25 Billion for Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program for live entertainment venues
• $10 Billion for State Small Business Credit Initiative
To date:
• Maryland small business revenue is down over 30% from last year
• Over 39,000 Maryland businesses have now received PPP loans to help them weather the COVID-19 economy
• These loans total in over $3.1 Billion in loans to Maryland businesses

Transportation and public transit
• $1.4 Billion for transit systems in the DC metro region including WMATA
• $353.6 Million for transit systems in Baltimore City
• $1.02 Million for transit systems in and around Aberdeen, Md.
• $1.47 Million for transit systems in and around Salisbury, Md.
• $1.44 Million for transit systems in Frederick, Md.
• $1.27 Million for transit in Waldorf, Md.
• $1.13 Million for transit systems in and around Hagerstown, Md.
• $441,234 for transit systems in and around Cumberland, Md.
• $408,639 for transit systems in Westminster-Eldersburg, Md.
• An additional $4.62 Million for rural transit systems throughout Maryland
Airports around the state will also receive funding. On the Eastern Shore, these are: Cambridge-Dorchester Regional, $32,000; Salisbury-Ocean City Wicomico Regional, $1,405,618; Easton/Newnam, $148,000; Ocean City Municipal, $32,000.

Housing and Utilities
To help Marylanders struggling to meet their rental payments, the American Rescue Plan includes:
• $318 Million in Emergency Rental Assistance
• $180 Million to $311 Million for Homeowner Assistance Fund
• $166 Million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help families afford home heating and cooling costs
The legislation also includes funding for nationwide programs to support homeless services and prevent utility shut-offs including:
• $9.9 Billion for Mortgage and Utility assistance
• $5 Billion for Emergency Housing Vouchers
• $510 Million for the FEMA Emergency Food and Shelter Program (EFSP) to support homeless services providers in communities across the nation for overnight shelter, meals, assistance to food banks and pantries, one month’s rental or mortgage assistance to prevent evictions, and one month’s utility payments to prevent service cut-offs
• $500 Million to HHS to provide financial assistance to low income consumers and other consumers adversely affected financially by COVID-19 to assist with payments for drinking water and wastewater expenses
• $100 Million for Housing Counseling
• $139 Million for USDA Rural Rental and Rural Homeowner Assistance
• A 15% benefit increase in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) through the end of September
• Administration funding for states to enroll increased SNAP caseloads due to the pandemic.
• $25 Million to invest in technological improvements to expand access for families to use their SNAP benefits online
• $37 Million for senior nutrition through the Commodity Supplemental Food Program.
• Increases the value of Supplemental Assistance for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) vouchers for fruits and vegetables to $35 per month for 4 months and includes $390 Million in funding for modernization
• Broadened eligibility for meals for young adults at homeless shelters by increasing the age limit from 18 to 25 for the rest of the pandemic
• Extended Pandemic-Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program benefits through the duration of the health emergency, including the summer months, to allow families with children receiving school meals to more easily purchase healthy food during the pandemic

Eastern Shore County totals, in millions of dollars:
Cecil - 19.95
Caroline - 6.48
Dorchester - 6.19
Kent - 3.77
Somerset - 4.97
Talbot - 7.21
Wicomico - 20.09
Worcester - 10.14

Eastern Shore city totals in millions of dollars:
Easton - 13.93
Elkton - 13.06
Cambridge - 10.25
Salisbury - 9.66
Ocean City - 5.8
Fruitland - 4.44
Chestertown - 4.22
Centreville - 4.13

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