ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — The Anne Arundel County Department of Health recently upped its enforcement of coronavirus regulations. Nearly 40 local businesses have failed their inspection.
Just under half of those infractions followed County Executive Steuart Pittman’s tightening of health mandates. On July 24, Pittman reinstated limits on social gatherings and late-night dining. Businesses will now face a fine for defying coronavirus restrictions.
Three county businesses have breached the health code twice. Nobody has broken orders three times.
The Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market remains the only facility temporarily closed for its offenses. The Department of Health shut the food vendor down on July 24 after two separate counts of maskless workers. It reopened six days later after passing reinspection.
Twelve of the offenders are eateries, 11 are storefronts and three are beauty parlors. The largest companies to break Anne Arundel County’s rules are Southwest Airlines, Walmart and Domino’s.
Of the 37 reported violators, 30 had poor mask usage. Five of those businesses also disobeyed social distancing requirements.
Buffet operation drew punishment at two sites. Two more exceeded their capacity limits, and another duo stayed open past their curfew. One employer didn’t screen its staffers properly as they entered the workplace.
The Bonefish Grill in Gambrills was the first joint warned for its behavior. The Department of Health caught Bonefish out of compliance on July 2.
Glen Burnie’s Fellowship Baptist Church is the county’s most recent infractor. It was written up on Aug. 16.
If the Department of Health finds a business out of line with any of these codes, it will issue an Order of Immediate Compliance. The department will reinspect the establishment within three business days. If the company cannot or will not fix its behavior, the county health officer will shut its doors.
Anne Arundel County will update its list of failed inspections weekly. So far, the Department of Health has caught 10 Annapolis businesses disregarding coronavirus policies.
Ziki Japanese Steakhouse
Pennsylvania Dutch Farmers Market
7-Eleven (1527 Forest Drive)
Quiet Waters Exxon
Kicked Up Fitness
Chaney Tire and Auto Service
China Wok Restaurant
Watergate Pointe @ Eastport Condos
Indoor gatherings are capped at 25 people. Outdoor gatherings are restricted to 50.
Pittman’s order says social gatherings are congregations of people that do not involve patronizing or operating a business or spiritual facility. Restaurants, bars, stores, casinos, offices, religious buildings and youth sports teams do not fall under the social gathering rules.
Restaurants and bars still must operate at 50 percent capacity and keep tables at least 6 feet apart. Customers and workers are still required toin all public places where they cannot socially distance. This includes indoor and outdoor venues, as well as busy common areas like sidewalks.
Restaurants and bars must stop all indoor service by 10 p.m., Pittman’s executive order states. Food courts inside shopping malls can no longer have dine-in seating, but they may continue serving carry-out. Malls and the stores inside can stay open.
The mandate institutes a $500 fine for businesses that break these coronavirus regulations. Previously, the Anne Arundel County Department of Health hadrather than punishment to address wrongdoings.
Now, the department will fine businesses for their first violation. A second infraction wields a $1,000 fine. A third breach carries a $5,000 fine. With any more offenses, a business owner could face up to a year in prison.
Coronavirus Statistics Update
Anne Arundel County has the fifth most coronavirus infections in the state, with 7,734. The virus has killed 219 county residents.
The county’s most recent data clock the positivity rate at 2.44 percent. Anne Arundel County’s positivity rate topped out at 28.24 percent on April 16 and bottomed out at 2.31 percent on Sunday.
Anne Arundel’s coronavirus-related hospitalizations have slowed as of late. The virus had 29 Anne Arundel County residents in the hospital on Aug. 10. That was the lowest since July 13 when 28 locals were hospitalized. Fewer than 50 residents have been hospitalized at a time since June 14.
More than 170 people were hospitalized in Anne Arundel County on the pandemic’s April 21 peak. The county’s recent high of 49 hospitalizations came on July 24. As of Monday, 31 Anne Arundel County residents are receiving coronavirus treatment in the hospital.
Maryland has registered 101,235 cases of coronavirus and 3,511 related deaths.
New infections reached a single-day high of 1,784 on May 19. By June 18, new cases bottomed out at 260.
Coronavirus cases have surged since testing became more readily available. The growing number of cases added Maryland to Connecticut, New Jersey and New York’s Marylanders must quarantine for 14 days when they visit one of the three states.on July 21. Now,
The trio limits travel from states with a weekly positivity rate above 10 percent or a seven-day rolling average of more than 10 new cases-per-day per 100,000 residents. With a population of 6.1 million, Maryland will fall off the list when it averages 610 new cases-per-day or less during any given week.
The state has averaged 627 new infections-per-day over the past week. On Aug. 6, that number was 833.
New infections hit a recent high of 1,288 on July 25. The state tallied 520 more cases on Tuesday.
Maryland’s hospitalizations peaked at 1,711 on April 30 and bottomed out at 385 on July 10. They hit a recent high of 592 on Aug. 1. The state counted 435 hospitalizations on Monday, which was the fewest since July 17. By Tuesday, 453 Marylanders were in the hospital with coronavirus.
The state’s positivity rate is also down. The current seven-day average positivity rate of 3.21 percent is the lowest its ever been. Sunday’s 2.12 percent positive was a single-day low.
The weekly positivity rate reached its ceiling of 26.92 percent on April 17. It has since been under 10 percent since June 2. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says states should aim to keep their positivity rate below 5 percent, which Maryland has done since June 25.
Maryland’s declining positivity rate has followed its swell in testing. The state has tested more than 10,000 people-per-day since July 7. On Aug. 8, the state tested a record-high 40,672 people. Maryland reported 16,059 tests on Monday.
The flood of testing came after Gov. Larry Hogan set a goal to test at least 10 percent of the population in each of the state’s 24 jurisdictions. Cecil County was the last to reach the mark.
Anne Arundel County was the 17th to hit the checkpoint. The county has tested 17.4 percent of its residents, which is the 16th most in the state.
Since meeting Hogan’s benchmark, Anne Arundel County has shifted its focus to testing at least 2 percent of its population each week. That equates to about 11,600 tests every seven days. On July 31, County Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman announced that the county passed the threshold for the first time since announcing the target on July 9.
Anne Arundel County residents with questions about coronavirus and testing can visit the Department of Health’s website. Locals can also learn more by calling the health line at (410) 222-7256. The call center is staffed from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. The Department of Health will also answer questions emailed to [email protected]
Have a story idea? Please contact me at [email protected] with any pitches, tips or questions. Follow me on Twitter @JacobBaumgart and on Facebook @JacobBaumgartJournalist to stay up-to-date with the latest Anne Arundel County and Prince George’s County news.