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  • Governor Hogan's COVID-19 Pandemic Executive Order Interpretive Guidance

    Updated 9/21/2020


     

  • Governor Hogan Announces $1 Billion Emergency Stimulus and Tax Relief Package


    RELIEF Act of 2021 Provides Direct Stimulus Payments for 400,000 Marylanders, Sales Tax Credits for 55,000 Small Businesses, Repeals State and Local Income Taxes on Unemployment Benefits

    RELIEF Act Will Be Introduced as Emergency Legislation, Brings Total State Relief to $1.7 Billion

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today introduced the RELIEF Act of 2021, an emergency legislative package that will provide more than $1 billion in direct stimulus and tax relief for Maryland working families, small businesses, and those who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This legislation builds on the more than $700 million in emergency economic relief that the governor has already announced.

    “With the start of a new 2021 legislative session on Wednesday, we are now asking the legislative branch to assist by immediately passing this stimulus and tax relief package to help even more struggling families and small businesses across our state,” said Governor Hogan. “We will be introducing the RELIEF Act of 2021 as emergency legislation on day one. We will ask both houses of the legislature to act on it immediately, so that I can immediately sign it into law, and these relief measures can take effect—all so that we can immediately get these much-needed dollars out the door and into the pockets of those who desperately need it.”

    Watch today’s press conference. 
    View the slides from today’s press conference.

    The $1 Billion RELIEF Act. The Recovery for the Economy, Livelihoods, Industries, Entrepreneurs, and Families Act includes the following economic stimulus and tax relief:

    • Provides direct stimulus payments for low-to-moderate income Marylanders, with benefits of up to $750 for families and $450 for individuals. This relief begins with immediate payments of $500 for families and $300 for individuals who filed for the Earned Income Tax Credit, followed by a second-round stimulus for EITC filers that would provide an additional $250 for eligible families and $150 for individuals. This relief will directly help more than 400,000 Marylanders. Similar to federal stimulus payments, no application for relief is necessary. ($270 million)
    • Repeals all state and local income taxes on unemployment benefits, providing further support and assistance for Marylanders who have lost their jobs. ($180 million)
    • Supports small businesses with sales tax credits of up to $3,000 per month for four months— for a total of up to $12,000—freeing-up much needed resources to protect payrolls and sustain operations. This relief will directly help more than 55,000 Maryland small businesses. ($300 million)
    • Extends unemployment tax relief for small businesses, staving off sudden and substantial tax hikes in 2021. This provision codifies an emergency order the governor issued last month. ($218 million)
    • Safeguards Maryland businesses against any tax increase triggered by the use of state loan or grant funds. ($40 million)

    The RELIEF Act will be introduced as emergency legislation so that it can take immediate effect upon enactment. A summary of the bill is available here. The legislation is funded through the remaining surplus at the end of Fiscal Year 2020, difficult budget reductions, and a small portion of the state’s Rainy Day Fund.

    During today’s press conference, the governor also provided an update on the new federal COVID-19 relief bill, which will provide Marylanders with an additional nearly $15 billion, including:

    • $7.14 billion in business assistance funding, including an additional $5.5 billion through the Paycheck Protection Program;
    • $4.18 billion in individual assistance funding, including an additional $2.59 billion for direct stimulus payments, $1.38 billion for extended unemployment insurance, and $211 million for enhanced SNAP benefits;
    • $925 million for K-12 school, and $130 million for child care;
    • $400 million for rental assistance, which can be used to help pay for rent and utility bills; 
    • $336 million for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing, and $75 million for vaccination programs;
    • $257 million for the transportation sector; and
    • $58 million to expand broadband access.

     

    Posted 1/11/2021

  • Governor Larry Hogan Issues Executive Order to Waive Charging of COVID-19 Unemployment Insurance Benefits to Employers


    Contributory Employers’ 2021 Tax Rates Calculated Using Pre-Pandemic Experience Rating

    Governor Larry Hogan today issued an Executive Order that waives the charging of COVID-19 unemployment insurance benefits to employers. This Executive Order prevents Maryland’s contributory employers from having their experience rating negatively impacted because they had to lay off or furlough employees due to the economic consequences of the pandemic. By maintaining the 2020 benefit ratio, employers’ 2021 tax rates will be reduced from what they would have been without the Executive Order. 

    “As a result of the catastrophic public health emergency our state continues to battle, Maryland has seen an unprecedented increase in unemployment insurance claims filed in 2020," said Governor Hogan. "With this Executive Order, Maryland's contributory employers will not be held financially responsible for their employees that were laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic through no fault of their own."

    The Executive Order maintains the same benefit ratio used to calculate an employer’s 2020 tax rate in the calculation of their tax rate for 2021. Therefore, an employer’s 2021 tax rate will be calculated based on their pre-pandemic experience by excluding the 2020 fiscal year and, instead using the last three fiscal years of 2017, 2018, and 2019. All chargeable benefits paid to former employees from July 1, 2019, to June 30, 2020, will not impact employer tax rates for 2021.

    “While our Division of Unemployment Insurance has been working around the clock to provide much needed benefits to claimants, we have surely not forgotten about Maryland’s employers, who have been faced with incredibly difficult circumstances and decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Labor Secretary Tiffany P. Robinson. “While we cannot prevent the tax table from dropping due to the economic impact of the pandemic, the Governor’s Executive Order will provide relief to employers by reducing the impact to their experience rating.”

    Since the beginning of the pandemic, over $1.5 billion in benefits have been awarded from the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. Based on the balance of the Trust Fund, Maryland employers will be taxed under Table F in 2021. Due to the change in the applicable Tax Table, all employers will still see an increase in their tax rate for the calendar year 2021. Maintaining the 2020 benefit ratio for employers in 2021 will ultimately reduce many employers’ tax rates from what they would have been without the Executive Order.

    Maryland’s employers will receive a direct email with this information today, but do not have to take any additional steps at this time. The Division of Unemployment Insurance will provide employers with their preliminary 2021 tax rate in their BEACON 2.0 portal in the latter half of December. Employers will then receive their 2021 Experience Rate Notice early next year. Those who qualify can also apply for payment plans in 2021 through their BEACON 2.0 portal. 

    If employers have questions about the Executive Order, they should read our Frequently Asked Questions. Employers may also contact the Employer Call Center by calling 410-949-0033 or utilize the Division of Unemployment Insurance’s inquiry form located at labor.maryland.gov/UIHelp

    It is important to note that this Executive Order will not impact unemployment insurance claimants. For more information about unemployment insurance in Maryland, please visit MDunemployment.com.

    Posted 12/11/20


     

  • New Quarantine Options for Close Contacts without Symptoms

    Joint Release from Garrett and Allegany County Health Departments

    The CDC continues to recommend a 14-day quarantine period for people determined to be close contacts to someone with COVID-19 and who do not have symptoms. The 14-day period is the gold standard because it reduces the risk of transmission of COVID-19 to near zero. Transmission commonly occurs even when individuals have no symptoms. Proper quarantine is an essential part of the fight against COVID-19.

    Considering the burden a 14-day quarantine places on individuals, the CDC has published two new options for people who must get back to the essential activities in their lives. Each of the other options increases the chances for further transmission of the virus, and because of this, individuals are still required to use meticulous masking, distancing and sanitizing, etc. for the entire 14-day period.

    “Western Maryland is currently experiencing a serious surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths,” said Dr. Jennifer Corder, Deputy Health Officer for Allegany and Garrett Counties. “Opting to shorten quarantine brings increased risks that though small, are real. Individuals should consider the increased risk for possible transmission that goes along with choosing a shorter option. ACHD/GCHD agrees with the CDC that the 14-day quarantine period is the gold standard, and we encourage everyone to meet that standard wherever possible.”

    The two new quarantine options apply to people who are close contacts to a confirmed case and who do not have any symptoms. Symptoms can be very mild and similar to colds and allergies, so caution is urged when considering the use of shorter quarantine periods.

    Option 1: Quarantine for 14 days. The benefit of this option is you know you are protecting others maximally.  The risk of transmitting the virus to others is near zero.

    Option 2: Quarantine for 10 days. The benefit of this option is that you can return to work and other activities 4 days sooner. The trade-off is you have a .1-10% chance of transmitting the virus to others.

    Option 3: Quarantine for 7 days after receiving a negative test day 5 or later. The benefit of this option is that you can return to work and other activities 7 days sooner. The downfall is you have a 5-12% chance of transmitting the virus to others.

    Posted 12/8/20


     

  • Garrett Liquor Control Board Approves COVID Policy


    On November 25, 2020, the Garrett County Board of License Commissioners / LCB formally adopted Temporary COVID Directives for establishments to comply with the Executive Orders from the Governor of Maryland and the Health Officer Orders, Maryland Department of Health Directives and CDC Guidelines.

    The measures that have been put in place by the Governor, the Maryland Department of Health and the CDC are intended to reduce COVID-19 infection rates and protect the employees and customers of local establishments as well as the community.

    The local policy that has been adopted is as follows:

    1. Properly worn face masks must be worn by all staff and patron unless actively eating or drinking.
     
    2. All service must be to seated patron only; there will be no standing or congregating at the bar or at outside areas of the establishments.
     
    3. All tables must be 6 feet apart with no more than 6 people seated at each table.
     
    4. Bar stools must be 6 feet apart, unless people come in together, they cannot be seated together. Meeting up at the establishment is not coming in together.
     
    5. Masks must be worn outside unless social distancing can be observed (patrons only). Definition of face covering per the Executive order: “Face Covering” means a covering that fully covers a person’s nose and mouth and is secure to the person’s head, but not a Medical-Grade mask. The term “Face Covering” includes, without limitations scarves, bandanas, and plastic full-face shields.
     
    6. Tables will be wiped and sanitized between each patron.
     
    7. Sanitizer will be readily available for staff and patrons.
     
    8. Compliance with then-current capacity restrictions in the Executive Orders. (For example, at the time of the issuance of this Policy, capacity is limited to 50%.)
     
    Garrett County agencies, both State and local, will be strictly enforcing these COVID-19 related restrictions over the coming days. The following are the consequences from the LCB for non-compliance with this policy:
     

    • First violation will be a no contest letter and $250.00 fine.
    • Second violation will go before the Board for a decision and fine.
    • Three or more violations will result in an automatic suspension of the license. Additionally, other charges and penalties may be incurred from other agencies.

     
    The Garrett County Commissioners have created several business assistance grant programs over the last several months. Click here for additional information about the funding availability or contact Kim Durst at 301.334.1992 or email kdurst@garrettcounty.org
     
    For more information on COVID-19 and local agencies, please visit:
     

    Garrett County Liquor Control Board
    Garrett County Government
    Garrett County Health Department 
    State of Maryland
    Governor’s Office
    Maryland Department of Health
    Maryland Restaurant Association
    CDC

    Posted on 11/30/20


     

  • Foodservice Establishment Closure FAQ November 20, 2020 

    This document addresses the specific requirement that foodservice establishments (restaurants, bars, nightclubs, banquet and catering halls, and other similar establishments that sell and/or serve food or beverages for consumption on-premises in Maryland, and social clubs with dining facilities) close to the public between 10:00 PM and 6:00 AM. For additional FAQs concerning foodservice establishments, please visit the Office of Food Protection’s COVID-19 website: phpa.health.maryland.gov/OEHFP/OFPCHS/Pages/Food-Safety-and-Covid19.aspx  

    Why do foodservice establishments need to close at 10 PM? 
    The Governor’s executive order (​20-11-17-01​) requires that foodservice establishments close to the public between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM, except for carry-out, drive-through, or delivery services. The purpose of this order is to discourage social gatherings. Bars, restaurants, and social gatherings are some of the most common places where transmission occurs. This may be due to several reasons, including limited use of face coverings, prolonged and close contact with non-household members, and diminished judgement with alcohol. The Department, along with local health departments and law enforcement, has seen significant non-compliance with social distancing and use of face coverings at bars, restaurants, nightclubs, banquet halls, catering halls, and similar foodservice establishments after 10 PM. 

    Can customers finish their meal or drink after 10 PM? 
    Foodservice establishments can not allow the general public into the facility for indoor/outdoor dining after 10 PM. Patrons may not be seated or order food or beverages after 10 PM. Patrons who are already seated may finish their food or beverage promptly and then leave the premises (it is recommended that foodservice establishments set a reasonable cut-off time ​prior​ to 10 PM, after which no additional patrons will be seated and/or no additional food orders will be taken, to minimize the number of patrons who remain seated at 10 PM).  After 10 PM only carry-out, drive-through, or delivery services are allowed, so long as the food is promptly taken from the premises. 

    Does this apply to private events and gatherings too? 
    Any social gatherings or events at foodservice establishments (including restaurants, bars, nightclubs, banquet and catering halls, and other similar establishments that sell and/or serve food or beverages) must stop serving drinks and food in accordance with the 10 PM - 6 AM restrictions as stated in the executive order. 

    Does this apply to other facilities that also have a food and beverage service, such as bowling alleys, gaming facilities, and other entertainment establishments? 
    Patrons may not be seated in dining areas or order food or beverages after 10PM.  Unless the other activity the business engages in is specifically limited by the executive order or a local order, it may continue.  No food and drink may be served to patrons on the premises after 10 PM. The food service portion can serve delivery or carry-out for patrons that promptly leave the premises. 

    Posted 11/20/20


     

  • To Fight COVID-19 Surge, Maryland Governor Hogan Announces Surge Measures, Statewide Capacity Restrictions

    Emergency Orders to Restrict Hospital and Nursing Home Visitation, Alleviate Overcrowding at Medical Facilities

    Institutes 10 pm Closure for Bars and Restaurants, 50% Capacity for Retail and Religious Establishments

    With widespread community transmission across the state and surging COVID-19 metrics across the country, Governor Larry Hogan today announced immediate actions to prevent overburdening the state’s healthcare system and to keep more Marylanders from dying.

    "We are in a war right now, and the virus is winning,” said Governor Hogan. “Now more than ever, I am pleading with the people of our state to stand together a while longer to help us battle this surging virus. Your family and friends are counting on you, your neighbors are counting on you, and your fellow Marylanders are counting on you to stay ‘Maryland Strong.’”

    Dr. Thomas Scalea, physician-in-chief of shock trauma at the University of Maryland Medical Center, also spoke at today’s press conference.

    In addition to today’s new actions, the governor announced that he will participate in a call on Thursday with President-elect Joe Biden and his transition team.

    NEW ACTIONS EFFECTIVE FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 AT 5 PM:

    The governor has issued an emergency order that takes the following actions—effective Friday, November 20 at 5 p.m.:

    10 PM CLOSURE FOR BARS AND RESTAURANTS STATEWIDE. All bars, restaurants, and venues serving food and alcohol must close between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., except for the purposes of carryout and delivery.

    LIMITED CAPACITY FOR RETAIL ESTABLISHMENTS AND RELIGIOUS FACILITIES. Capacity at retail establishments and religious facilities will be reduced to 50%, bringing them into line with indoor dining and personal services businesses, as well as bingo halls, bowling alleys, pool halls, roller and ice skating rinks, fitness centers, and social and fraternal clubs.

    NO FANS FOR RACETRACKS AND STADIUMS. No fans will be permitted at racetracks or professional and collegiate stadiums across the state.

    Businesses with questions about today’s orders should contact Commerce.Secretary@maryland.gov

    ACTIONS ON HOSPITAL SURGE MANAGEMENT AND VISITATION: 

    HOSPITAL VISITATION PROHIBITED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. State health officials have issued an emergency order to prohibit all hospital visitation until further notice with some exceptions—including end-of-life care, obstetrics, parents or guardians of minors, and support for people with disabilities. Read the order

    NEW HOSPITAL SURGE MANAGEMENT ORDER. State health officials have issued an emergency order allowing hospitals that are either full or nearing capacity limits to transfer patients to hospitals that are equipped to provide them with the care they need. This will help alleviate the overcrowded hospitals in some areas of the state, and place patients in hospitals where beds are available. Read the order.

    GUIDANCE ON ELECTIVE PROCEDURES. State health officials have issued guidance warning hospitals and other medical facilities to avoid any elective procedure admissions that are not urgent or life-saving—especially if they are likely to require prolonged artificial ventilation, ICU admissions, or may have a high probability of requiring post-hospital care in a skilled nursing facility. Read the guidance.

    ACTIONS ON HOTSPOTS AND NURSING HOMES:

    NEW LIMITATIONS ON NURSING HOME VISITATION. Until further notice, indoor visitation at Maryland nursing homes will generally be limited to compassionate care, and all visitors must have proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours prior to their visit. Read the order.

    State health officials have issued an order instituting mandatory twice-weekly testing for all staff at Maryland nursing homes, as well as mandatory weekly testing for all nursing home residents—effective no later than Friday, November 20. Read the order.

    MORE RAPID RESPONSE TEAMS FOR HOTSPOTS AND OUTBREAKS. To tackle acute outbreaks, Governor Hogan is doubling the number of rapid response teams deployed to provide an extra level of triage and supplement local staffing needs.

    Posted 11/17/20


     

  • Garrett County Restaurant Relief Grant Eligibility Guidelines

    The Garrett County Restaurant Relief Fund is to assist restaurants with expenses associated with adjusting their operations and procedures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Eligibility Criteria and Business Qualifications:

    Eligible Businesses:
    • NAICS 722511: Full-service restaurants
    • NAICS 722513: Limited-service restaurants
    • NAICS 722320: Caterers
    • NAICS 722515: Snack and nonalcoholic beverages (carry-out)
    • NAICS 722330: Mobile food service (food trucks)
    • NAICS 722511: Brewery/distillery (tap room)

    Applications from franchise restaurants will be accepted, with the following exceptions:
    • If a franchisee owns more than two (2) franchise locations in Garrett County, franchisee may submit a grant application for no more than two (2) of those locations; and
    • Corporate-owned franchise restaurants are not eligible to apply.

    Grant Awards:

    The following approved applicants will receive a $10,000 grant:
    • NAICS 722511: Full-service restaurants
    • NAICS 722513: Limited-service restaurants

    The following approved applicants will receive a $5,000 grant:
    • NAICS 722320: Caterers
    • NAICS 722515: Snack and nonalcoholic beverages (carry-out)
    • NAICS 722330: Mobile food service (food trucks)
    • NAICS 722511: Brewery/distillery (tap room)

    Approved applicants will receive an IRS Form 1099, which will detail the grant award, from the Board of County Commissioners for Garrett County, Maryland at the end of calendar year 2020.

    Eligibility Requirements:

    1. Applicant must have owned, rented, or leased a permanent or mobile commercial food and/or beverage service location in Garrett County as of March 1, 2020

    2. Applicant must have been in business on March 1, 2020 and continue to be operational, except, if a business closed after March 1, 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and wishes to use funds to reopen, reimbursement of funds up to the funding guidelines may be provided for eligible expenses necessary to reopen the business.

    3. Applicant must have a valid Garrett County Health Department permit.

    4. Applicant must be in good standing with Garrett County Government and the State of Maryland with NO outstanding taxes, fees, or other charges.

    5. Applicant must be registered with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation, if required by law, or have a valid Garrett County business license.

    6. Applicant must demonstrate operational expenses or purchases incurred due to COVID-19 during the period from March 1, 2020 through December 30, 2020.

    Eligible Fund Uses*:
    • Rent/mortgage
    • Utilities
    • Information technology upgrades and e-commerce programs
    • Marketing
    • Employee training
    • Commercial cleaning and sanitation services
    • Professional services
    • Vehicle or equipment expenses to expand outdoor dining
    • Infrastructure improvements
    • Disposable food containers/utensils
    • Other COVID-19 health-related expenses (Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), supplies, plexiglass shields, masks, etc.)
    *Grant funds may be used as a reimbursement for eligible past expenses made after March 1, 2020 that meet requirements.

    Ineligible Fund Uses:
    • Payroll / Wages
    • Expenses not related to COVID-19 pandemic impacts

    Required Documentation:
    • Fully completed application
    • Fully completed IRS W-9 form
    • Vendor information request form
    • Maryland State Department of Assessments and Taxation Certificate of Good Standing, if required by law, or a copy of a current Garrett County Business License. Certificate of Good Standing may be supplied via screenshot or printed from the webpage.
    • Copy of Garrett County Health Department permit

    Additional Information:
    • Applicants that have received previous local, state, or federal COVID-19 financial support are eligible to receive the Garrett County Restaurant Relief Grant.
    • If an incomplete application is received, the applicant will be notified via email and the application will lose its spot in the application queue.
    • Applicants will receive an email notification confirming receipt of their applications. If an applicant does not receive an email notification, the application has not been received.
    • Applicants will be notified via email upon approval of the grant and disbursement of funds. All grant funds will be disbursed via check.
    • Documentation of expenses and paid invoices, as well as all Required Documentation set forth above, must be kept by the Applicant Grantee with a copy of the grant application for a period of five (5) years.
    • Within that five (5) year period, Applicant Grantees must permit any duly authorized representative of the Maryland Department of Commerce, the State of Maryland, and/or Garrett County Government to inspect and audit all records and documents relating to the grant award.
    • Grants will be awarded on a first-come, first-served basis until funding is exhausted.

    Applications will be accepted beginning 8:30 a.m.on Monday, November 16, 2020. The application and all documentation must be submitted via email to Kim Durst at kdurst@garrettcounty.org.

    Application deadline is 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, December 15, 2020. NO grant applications will be accepted after that date. Funds must be disbursed to businesses by December 31, 2020. The December 15, 2020 deadline ensures sufficient time to review applications and disburse funds.

    Posted 11/13/20


     

  • Garrett County Board of Education Votes to Pause In-Person Learning and Move Students to Virtual Learning


    The Garrett County Board of Education voted last evening, November 10, 2020, to move students to a red, fully virtual learning model beginning Thursday, November 12, 2020, and continuing until at least Thursday, December 10, 2020. GCPS is also cancelling all in-person extra-curricular activities and athletic events and practices effective immediately. The Board of Education made this decision based upon the significant increase in cases throughout Garrett County and also upon the number of GCPS employees and students who are currently quarantining or isolating due to possible COVID exposure. District leaders and board members have worked closely with the Garrett County Health Department (GCHD) to examine positivity percentages and case rates. Together, they will continue to monitor and review current health metrics and trend data in Garrett County and surrounding communities.

    The Board of Education will make the decision at their December 8, 2020 meeting to either continue virtual learning or to transition back to in-person learning. Over the next month, school system leadership will continue to collaborate with the GCHD to analyze trend data to ensure that the Board of Education members have the most up-to-date information in order to make a decision that protects both students and staff. We are well aware that this will be difficult for some families, especially those with poor Internet connectivity, to manage. More information will be forthcoming regarding these and other challenges students will be facing in the coming month.

    Posted 11/11/20


     

  • Governor Hogan Announces Series of Actions to Slow the Spread of COVID-19

    • New Directives Reduce Indoor Dining Capacity to 50%, Restore Mandatory Teleworking for Government Employees
    • Public Health Advisories Limit Indoor Gatherings to 25 or Less, Expand Warnings on Out-of-State Travel
    • Emergency Health Order Expands Hospital Surge Capacity
    • New Guidance for Nursing Homes and Assisted Living Facilities
       

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—With Maryland’s positivity rate exceeding 5% for the first time since June and health metrics spiking across the nation, Governor Larry Hogan today announced a series of actions to slow the spread of COVID-19.

    “Since last week, most of our key metrics have worsened considerably,” said Governor Hogan. “More people are getting infected with the virus, more people are being hospitalized, more people are going into intensive care, and more Marylanders are dying. The actions we are taking today are absolutely necessary to help us withstand this surge, to save lives, and to keep Maryland on the road to recovery and open for business.”

    EFFECTIVE WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2020 AT 5 PM:

    INDOOR DINING CAPACITY REDUCED TO 50%. The governor issued an emergency order reducing indoor operations for bars and restaurants from 75% to 50%. Bars and restaurants in the State of Maryland are permitted to be open for seated and distanced service only, with strict capacity restrictions. Read the governor’s order.

    EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY:

    PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY TO LIMIT INDOOR GATHERINGS TO 25 OR LESS. With contact tracing data showing an uptick in cases resulting from family gatherings and house parties, state health officials have issued a public health advisory strongly discouraging indoor gatherings of 25 people or more. Read the health advisory.

    EXPANDED OUT-OF-STATE TRAVEL ADVISORY. With contact tracing data showing an uptick in confirmed cases connected to travel outside of the state, the governor has directed the Maryland Department of Health to issue an expanded public health advisory for out-of-state travel. Marylanders are strongly advised against traveling to any state with a positivity rate above 10% or any state with average case rates above 20 per 100K. Anyone traveling from these states should get tested and self-quarantine while awaiting results.
    This public health advisory—which takes effect immediately—applies to personal, family, or business travel of any kind. Marylanders are advised to postpone or cancel travel to these areas until their positivity and/or case rates decline. Read the travel advisory.

    GOVERNMENT OFFICES TO RETURN TO MANDATORY TELEWORKING. Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Budget and Management to immediately execute a period of mandatory telework across state agencies, except for essential direct public-facing services and other essential personnel. State officials strongly encourage all businesses to take immediate steps to expand telework.

    NEW HOSPITAL SURGE CAPACITY ORDER. State health officials have issued an emergency order expanding hospital surge capacity. Read the emergency health order.

    Provides state EMS officials with the flexibility to shift patients to alternate care sites such as the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital, Laurel Hospital, and Adventist Takoma Park Hospital, and to add capacity at those sites if the need arises.
    Requires hospitals to implement plans to stage and accept surge patients. All hospitals will be required to begin preparations to increase COVID-19 related operations by making sure they have enough beds and staff.
    Makes additional infection control staff available from regional hospitals and other nursing homes to intervene and provide support through mutual aid agreements when outbreaks occur at any one nursing home.

    NEW GUIDANCE FOR NURSING HOMES AND ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES. State health officials have issued new guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19 at nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Read the nursing home guidance.

    Marylanders should take all precautions to protect their loved ones at nursing homes and assisted living programs including staying home if sick and getting tested before they visit.
    Nursing home and assisted living program staff should minimize their contact with large gatherings and work with their management on communicating early and often about infection control issues at their facilities.
    Nursing homes and assisted living programs are reminded that indoor visitation is not permitted if the facility is currently conducting outbreak testing and in accordance with federal guidance on this subject. Each facility may restrict visitation, to include the number of individuals allowed in the facility at any given time, on a facility-specific basis given each facility’s circumstances and infection control guidelines.
    Nursing homes must continue to take steps to secure sufficient personal protective equipment for their staff.

    EXPANDED CONSULTATIONS WITH LOCAL LEADERS. At the governor’s direction, administration officials will increase teleconferences with county and municipal leaders in order to ensure additional real-time coordination.

    View the slides from the press conference or Watch the Press Conference

    Posted 11/11/20


     

  • State of Maryland Offers Neighborhood BusinessWorks Opportunity Zone Microgrant

    The State of Maryland is offering microgrants to support business investment in Maryland’s designated Opportunity Zones. Administered by the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, the Neighborhood BusinessWorks Program will be offering "Opportunity Zone Microgrants" ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 to start-up and expanding businesses located within an Opportunity Zone.  

    To apply for the microgrant, a for-profit business must be located in an Opportunity Zone in Allegany County, Garrett County, Somerset County, or Wicomico County; or in an Opportunity Zone that overlaps with a priority funding area in one of Maryland’s 20 remaining jurisdictions. The business must demonstrate plans for growth; have a matching contribution equal to or greater than the grant request amount; have 50 or fewer full-time equivalent employees and an annual revenue of less than $5 million, and; be in good standing with the Maryland Department of Assessments and Taxation.

    The Opportunity Zones in Garrett County are Census Tracts 2, 6 & 7. Census Tract 2 is located in Northern Garrett County and includes the County's Northern Garrett Industrial Park and Keyser's Ridge Business Park. Census Tracts 6 and 7 are located in Southern Garrett County. Census Tract 7 includes the County's Southern Garrett Industrial Park and Southern Garrett Business and Technology Park, as well as County-owned property located along Francis Sanders Drive in Mountain Lake Park.

    Applications will be accepted beginning November 17, 2020, and funding will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

    For more eligibility details and application information, visit https://dhcd.maryland.gov/Business/Pages/OZ-Microgrant.aspx.

    Posted 11/5/20


     

  • Governor Hogan Announces Expanded Capacity for Indoor Dining, Marks Beginning of Maryland Restaurant Week

    Indoor Dining Capacity Increased from 50% to 75%
    Governor Visits Downtown Annapolis, Encourages Marylanders to Support Local Eateries September 18-27

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today marked the beginning of the state’s first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week by announcing expanded capacity for indoor dining.

    Effective Monday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m., capacity for indoor operations at restaurants may increase from 50 to 75 percent, with appropriate distancing, and following strict public health requirements consistent with the CDC, FDA, and the National Restaurant Association. Read the governor’s order.

    Earlier in the day, the governor visited McGarvey’s Saloon and Oyster Bar in Annapolis to present a proclamation recognizing Friday, September 18 through Sunday, September 27 as Maryland Restaurant Week. The governor spent time in several Annapolis Recovery Zones, where restaurants, bars, and shops have adopted creative solutions to get safely back to business. 

    “As we continue with the third and final stage of our recovery, I want to commend our state’s restaurant industry for their incredible resilience this year and for their continued commitment to the health and safety of Marylanders,” said Governor Hogan. “To celebrate the first-ever Maryland Restaurant Week, I encourage Marylanders to support their favorite local businesses, whether you do so through delivery, curbside pickup, or by dining indoors or outside.”

    While local jurisdictions have observed individual restaurant weeks over the past decade, this is the very first statewide observance. There are no entry fees or course requirements, and restaurants may offer special menus, discounts, or other promotions. The Maryland Office of Tourism has contributed $50,000 in sponsorship to support the marketing efforts of the Restaurant Association of Maryland. 

    According to statistics announced today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, the state’s Leisure and Hospitality sector experienced the most job growth in August with an increase of 5,800 jobs—4,000 of which belong to Accommodation and Food Services. Starting in May, when Governor Hogan announced Phase One of recovery and the safe resumption of outdoor dining, Leisure and Hospitality has added 65,900 jobs, 53,400 of which belong to Accommodation and Food Services. Overall, the state has gained 183,200 jobs during the recovery.

    As with Stages One and Two, Stage Three continues to be implemented in multiple phases with a flexible, community-based approach where individual jurisdictions make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings.

    Posted 9/21/2020


     

  • County Reopening Information 

    From the Garrett County Government Communications Office:

    Governor Hogan has proceeded to ease restrictions dealing with the COVID -19 State of Emergency, on a statewide basis but has reserved the right for local jurisdictions to modify his actions, if circumstances warrant.
     
    In Garrett County, we have utilized the Governor's guidance and have, to this point, fared better than most jurisdictions in the State. It is the intent of the Board of County Commissioners of Garrett County to continue to follow the Governor's directives.
     
    As a result, until or unless the Health Officer for Garrett County directs otherwise, Garrett County will proceed with openings in accordance with Governor Hogan's present “Stage 3” reopening. Additional information can be found on the Governor's website at https://governor.maryland.gov/recovery/
     
    As the Governor announces phased openings or, as he eases restrictions related to the COVID -19 State of Emergency, those actions will apply in Garrett County unless the Garrett County Health Officer directs otherwise.

    Posted 9/2/2020


     

  • Governor Hogan Announces Beginning of Stage Three of Maryland’s COVID-19 Recovery, Additional Safe and Gradual Reopenings

    Movie Theaters, Live Entertainment Venues Permitted to Reopen, Capacity Increased From 50% to 75% at Retail Shops and Religious Services
    Stage Three Will Continue Flexible, Community-Based Approach; Jurisdictions to Decide Timing of Reopenings
    Maryland Collaborates with Apple and Google on Launching State-of-the-Art Exposure Notification Tool

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced that, based on the state’s improving health metrics, Maryland will begin to move into Stage Three of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ with additional safe and gradual reopenings. As with Stages One and Two, Stage Three will be implemented in multiple phases with a flexible, community-based approach that empowers individual jurisdictions to make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings.
     
    “As we move into this third and final stage of our recovery, I want to sincerely thank our doctors, nurses, and public health officials, our small business community, and, most importantly, the people of Maryland who have pulled together over the last five months to respond to this unprecedented challenge with incredible courage and perseverance,” said Governor Hogan. “It is thanks to all of you that we have crushed the curve and saved lives, and that our state response to this global pandemic continues to serve as an example for the rest of the nation.”
     
     
     
    STAGE THREE BEGINS FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 AT 5:00 PM:
     
    As part of the state’s initial entry into Stage Three, Governor Hogan announced the following additional safe and gradual reopenings:
     
    INDOOR THEATERS. Indoor theaters where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown may open to the general public at 50% capacity, or 100 people per auditorium—whichever is less—with appropriate health and safety protocols in place.
     
    OUTDOOR VENUES. Outdoor venues where live performances occur or motion pictures are shown outdoors may open to the general public at 50% capacity, or 250 people—whichever is less—with appropriate health and safety protocols in place.
     
    RETAIL AND RELIGIOUS FACILITIES. Capacity for retail establishments and religious facilities may increase from 50 to 75 percent.
     
     
    MARYLAND PARTNERS WITH APPLE AND GOOGLE ON EXPOSURE NOTIFICATIONS EXPRESS. The governor announced today, in collaboration with Apple and Google, that Maryland will be one of the first states to deploy a new exposure notification tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Exposure Notifications Express is designed to help public health officials more quickly and easily provide notifications for their residents about potential COVID-19 exposure and guide them on recommended actions. This new technology will be optional for users.
     
    UPDATES ON SCHOOLS, YOUTH SPORTS, AND ELECTIONS
     
    SCHOOLS. The governor thanked the State Board of Education for voting to require those school systems that have not developed a plan for returning any students for any in person instruction until 2021 to reevaluate their reopening plans by the end of the first quarter. Last week, the governor announced that, as a result of improved COVID-19 health metrics, every county school system in Maryland is authorized to begin safely reopening, but made clear that the legal authority and final decision making on safe openings rests with county boards of education. Guidance to support the safe reopening of schools can be found here.
     
    YOUTH SPORTS. The governor reiterated that while counties may issue more restrictive rules, state health officials issued an order on June 12 allowing all youth sports gatherings and events to begin resuming. “County governments of course, by law, do have the power to be more restrictive, but it is the position of the State of Maryland that our young people should have the opportunity to play sports this fall, and we are encouraging local health officials to reassess their guidelines,” said Governor Hogan.
     
    ELECTIONS. The governor noted that, as of today, and after asking them to immediately do so nearly eight weeks ago, the State Board of Elections has mailed out ballot applications to every Maryland voter. Marylanders are strongly encouraged to take advantage of voting by absentee ballot or to participate in early voting. Those who choose to vote in-person on Election Day are encouraged to do so at off-peak times to avoid long lines and crowds.
     
    Additionally, through the recruiting efforts of the Hogan administration, more than 11,000 Marylanders have signed up to serve as election judges. The governor continues to urge local election boards to immediately contact and train these election judges and poll workers.
     
    Visit governor.maryland.gov/recovery for more information about the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.’
     
    Posted 9/2/2020

     

     

  • GCPS Superintendent Barbara Baker and GCHD Health Officer Bob Stephens Release Joint Letter to Community

    Letter from Superintendent and GCHD Health Officer:
    August 30, 2020

    Dear GCPS Families,

    We are writing to provide you with more information specific to the reopening of Garrett County Public Schools’ facilities in light of the announcements made late Thursday afternoon by Governor Larry Hogan, Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon and Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan.
     
    Throughout the many weeks that we have been formulating our reopening plan, school system and Garrett County Health Department officials have been in contact on a weekly, and sometimes daily, basis. The sole purpose of the ongoing conversations is to ensure a safe return to in-person learning for all students and staff. We have previously announced plans to bring small groups of students back into buildings in a systematic and careful manner. We have also said repeatedly that we will adjust the schedule and move more quickly if it is safe to do so.

    The metrics announced at Thursday’s news conference are important to understand. To even consider a “green” in-person learning model for all, a jurisdiction must have a positivity rate under 5 percent on a rolling seven-day average. If that is the case, the county can proceed to the second metric. Currently, every jurisdiction in the state meets this threshold. The second metric involves new cases per 100,000 residents per day (incidence rate) for a rolling seven-day period. If a jurisdiction has an incidence rate of less than 5 per 100,000 over a seven-day average, that jurisdiction may open for expanded in-person learning. However, if a jurisdiction has an incidence rate of more than 5 per 100,000 over a seven-day average, that jurisdiction may only consider opening for hybrid learning.

    As of the date of this letter, Garrett County’s 7-day positivity rate is .5% and the case rate is 1%. This means that the school system could return to in-person learning if the decision is based solely on the metrics. However, there are many logistical issues that need to be addressed before the school system can return to full in-person learning. We must transport students to & from school and educate students in classrooms while adhering to the physical distancing guidelines provided by the Governor on Thursday. Furthermore, if there is a sudden increase in either the case rate or positivity rate throughout the county, a discussion between local health and education officials will be necessary to determine if changes are needed to prevent the spread of the virus. Similar discussions will need to occur if a school has a positive case. By proceeding slowly with the plan currently in place, we hope to avoid having to close schools or the entire system shortly after our return.

    We fully recognize that there are many parents who want their students back in school buildings full-time as quickly as possible. So do we, and we are tirelessly working toward that end so that we can resume our in-person instructional program. As previously stated, the current plan is designed to use a virtual platform in order to keep every student and employee of the Garrett County Public School system healthy and safe.

    As we move forward in these trying times, it is critical that we all work together to ensure our students receive the best education available in the safest way possible. We thank you for your patience and understanding as we move forward to that end.

    Barbara L. Baker 
    GCPS Superintendent 

    Robert Stephens, MS
    Garrett County Health Officer

    Posted 8/31/2020


     

  • Garrett County Chamber Phase 4 COVID-19 Response Legislation Recommendations - July 2020

    Congress is currently considering the next phase of coronavirus legislation.  The House Democrats version is referred to as the Heroes Act and the Senate Republican’s version is now called the HEALS Act. There was even mentioned the name of CARES 2 at one time.

    Heroes is a $3 trillion bill and HEALS is a $1 trillion bill. Both parties are very far apart at this point.

    We sent a letter on Monday with the following recommendations. Some of what we support will hopefully be included including updates to the PPP program and making 501 C 6 organizations eligible to apply for PPP. They should reach an agreement by this weekend.

    You can read the Garrett County Chamber Phase 4 COVID-19 Recommendations by clicking here. 

    Posted 7/29/2020

  • Governor Hogan Presses Local Leaders to Enforce Public Health Requirements In Bars and Restaurants

    State Health Officials Have Connected An Increasing Number of COVID-19 Cases to Non-Compliance
    Local Leaders Must Enforce Physical Distancing and Capacity Restrictions at Bars and Restaurants
    Penalties Should Include Fines, Actions Against Licenses, and Closure
    Positivity Rate Among Younger Marylanders Continues to Rise

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today directed local leaders to step up enforcement of public health requirements in bars and restaurants across the state. State health officials have connected an increasing number of COVID-19 cases to non-compliance with face covering and physical distancing rules.
     
    “The vast majority of bars and restaurants in our state are in compliance, but some are flagrantly violating the law and endangering public health,” said Governor Hogan. “You have the responsibility to enforce these laws. Violators should be warned, fined, have actions taken regarding their licenses, or closed if necessary. Local health departments, local liquor boards and inspectors, and local law enforcement agencies must work together to ensure public health is protected.”
     
     
    As of today, the positivity rate among Marylanders under 35 is now 84% higher than it is for Marylanders 35 and over. 
     
     
    Bars and restaurants are open for seated service only with physical distancing and capacity restrictions. Customers must be seated at least six feet apart from other guests. Standing and congregating in bar areas is strictly prohibited. 
    All staff must wear a face covering while working and interacting with customers. 
    For facilities with booths, every other booth must be closed. 
    No more than six people may sit at a table. 
     
    In recent weeks, at least 12 other states have moved to re-close bars and restaurants statewide or in targeted localities following COVID-19 spikes and outbreaks.
     
    “Our continued economic health and recovery depend on the active and aggressive local compliance and enforcement of these critical public health measures,” continued the governor. “We cannot allow a small segment of willful violators to squander the collective efforts of the overwhelming majority of Maryland citizens and businesses.”
     
    The state continues working to further increase the convenience and accessibility of COVID-19 resources and testing. Learn more about COVID-19 in Maryland, or make a plan to get tested at one of more than 220 testing sites, by visiting coronavirus.maryland.gov
     
    Posted 7/14/2020

     

     

  • Additional Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Available in Garrett County

    The Garrett County Health Department, operating in conjunction with the Maryland Department of Health and other state and local partners, is offering drive-thru testing without the need for an appointment or a doctor’s order at Deep Creek Lake on Friday, July 3.
     
    The event will be held at the Garrett County Fairgrounds at 270 Mosser Road in McHenry from 8 am to 12 noon. Entrance and exit to the event will be from Mosser Road. Please follow the signs and watch for traffic personnel for direction. Please be prepared for a short wait time depending on how many persons take advantage of this event.
     
    Testing will be done while persons are sitting in their cars. There will be no cost for this nasopharyngeal swab test that may detect a current COVID-19 infection. Persons with positive results will be called directly, while negative results will be sent to the person’s mailing address. Staff anticipates that test results will take 3-4 days.
     
    THIS IS NOT AN ANTIBODY TEST THAT MAY IDENTIFY A PREVIOUS INFECTION.
     
    Local partners for this event include Garrett County Public Schools, Mountain Laurel Medical Center, Garrett Regional Medical Center, County Government, and Maryland State Highway Administration.
     
    The Health Department is also holding an additional testing opportunity on Friday, July 17, from 7:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot between the Health Department and the Mountain Laurel Medical Center at 1025 Memorial Drive in Oakland.
     
    These events are for persons who do not have symptoms. Anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their doctor to be tested at the hospital outpatient laboratory or other clinical laboratory. Persons that are interested in an antibody test for COVID-19 should also contact their health care provider.

    Posted 7/1/2020


     

  • Drive-thru COVID-19 Testing Opportunities Announced for Persons without Symptoms 

    The Garrett County Health Department will be offering two “Drive-Thru” COVID-19 testing opportunities for persons without symptoms at two locations in the coming weeks.
     
    The first drive-thru testing opportunity will be held at Northern Middle School at 371 Pride Parkway in Accident on Friday, June 26. The hours will be held rain or shine from 7:00 a.m. to 1 p.m.
     
    Testing will be done while persons are sitting in their cars. There will be no cost for this nasopharyngeal swab PCR test that may detect a current COVID-19 infection. Persons with positive results will be called directly, while negative results will be sent to the person’s mailing address. Staff anticipates that test results will take 3-4 days.
     
    THIS IS NOT AN ANTIBODY TEST THAT MAY IDENTIFY A PREVIOUS INFECTION.
     
    A second testing opportunity will be held at the Mountain Laurel Medical Center at 1027 Memorial Drive in Oakland on Friday, July 17 from 7:00 a.m to 1 p.m. More information will be forthcoming closer to that date.
     
    These clinics are for persons who do not have symptoms. Persons with symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their doctor to be tested at the hospital outpatient laboratory or other clinical laboratory. Persons that are interested in an antibody test for COVID-19 should also contact their health care provider.
     
    For more information, call 301 334-7770 or 301 895-3111.

    Posted 6/24/2020


     

  • New Employer Tool for Updating Return to Work Dates and Reporting Job Refusals Online

    Governor Larry Hogan recently announced the next round of safe and phased reopenings in conjunction with stage two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery’ plan. 
     
    In light of these reopenings, the Maryland Department of Labor has notified all unemployment claimants who are on temporary layoff or are furloughed due to COVID-19 that they are required to return to work if called back by their employer. If a claimant refuses an offer of work, it may result in the delay or denial of the claimant’s benefits. 
     
    Labor’s Division of Unemployment Insurance requires employers to report the following information within 15 days of when they offer work and it is refused by the employee: 
     
    Employee’s full name and social security number
    The date the employee was offered work 
    The date the employee refused the offer of work
     
    Employers who have a valid Maryland account number and FEIN may easily report job refusals and update return to work dates by utilizing the Division’s new online application available at https://secure-2.dllr.state.md.us/net207/welcome.aspx.  The application will accept an updated return to work date up to 30 days in the past and up to 12 months in the future.
     
    Employers without a valid Maryland account number, such as federal employers and those who are out-of-state, may report job refusals and update return to work dates by emailing ui.bulkclaim@maryland.gov.
     
    However, please note there are circumstances where a claimant has “good cause” to refuse an offer of work, including:
     
    Being sick or still isolated as the result of COVID-19
    An unreasonable risk of exposure at place of employment
    Caring for a family member who is sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19
    Caring for a child who is unable to attend school or a childcare facility
    The work is not “suitable.” In the context of an individual returning to work with the same employer in which the individual had been laid off or furloughed as a direct result of COVID-19, suitable employment means employment that the claimant is qualified for based on their customary occupation, experience, education level, and/or training.
     
    Upon receipt of this information from the employer, Labor will schedule a telephone fact-finding appointment with the claimant where the claimant will be able to address the failure to return-to-work/job refusal issue. The employer will also be contacted to provide the circumstances of the job offer. After the Division has collected the available facts surrounding the job offer, a determination will be made.
     
    Posted 6/23/2020

     

  • Governor Hogan Announces Next Stage Two Reopenings, Including Indoor Dining and Outdoor Amusements

    Next Round of Safe and Phased Reopenings Begins on Friday, June 12; Reopenings on Friday, June 19 to Include Gyms, Casinos, Malls
    Encourages Protesters to Get Tested, Expands COVID-19 Testing in Baltimore City
    State Superintendent Announces Reopenings for Summer Instruction, Child Care, and Outdoor High School Sports

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—With key statewide health metrics continuing to trend in a positive direction, Governor Larry Hogan today announced additional safe and phased reopenings through Stage Two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.’

    Read the full press release HERE

    Posted 6/11/2020


     

  • Paycheck Protection Program Updates

    President Trump signed into law sweeping changes to the Small Business Administration's Paycheck Protection Program today, making the program's lending terms more favorable to restaurants, retailers and other businesses.
     
    The bipartisan bill, titled the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020, was passed May 28 by the House of Representatives and subsequently passed by the Senate on June 3 with bipartisan support, the only PPP reform effort to become law so far.
     
    The Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act overhauls, key aspects of the program, and will:
     
    Extends the PPP loan forgiveness period to include costs incurred over 24 weeks after a loan is issued or through Dec. 31, whichever comes first.
     
    ***A letter of intent was submitted in the Senate to clarify that the provision was intended only to extend the deadline for borrowers to spend their PPP funds, and that no new PPP loans can be issued after June 30, 2020
     
    Extends a period in which loans can be forgiven if businesses restore staffing or salary levels that were previously reduced from June 30 to December 31. The provision would apply to worker and wage reductions made from Feb. 15 through 30 days after enactment of the CARES Act, which was signed into law on March 27. 
     
    Maintains forgiveness amounts for companies that document their inability to rehire workers employed as of Feb. 15, and their inability to find similarly qualified workers by the end of the year. Companies would be covered separately if they show that they couldn’t resume business levels from before Feb. 15 because they were following federal requirements for sanitization or social distancing.
     
    Requires at least 60% of forgiven loan amounts to come from payroll expenses (decrease from the current 75% required), therefore the new non-payroll portion of a forgivable covered loan amount is now 40% (up from 25%).
     
    Repeals a provision from the CARES Act that barred companies with forgiven PPP loans from deferring their payroll tax payments.
     
    Allows borrowers to defer principal and interest payments on PPP loans until the SBA compensates lenders for any forgiven amounts, instead of the current six-month deferral period. Borrowers that don’t apply for forgiveness would be given at least 10 months after the program expires to start making payments. Establishes a minimum loan maturity period of five years following an application for loan forgiveness, instead of the current two-year deadline set by the SBA. That provision would apply to PPP loans issued after the measure is enacted, though borrowers and lenders could agree to extend current loans.
     
    Posted 6/5/2020

     

  • Governor Hogan Announces Beginning of Stage Two of Maryland’s COVID-19 Recovery, Safe and Gradual Reopening of Workplaces and Businesses

    Additional Reopenings to Include Personal Services, State Government Agencies
    Stage Two Will Continue Flexible, Community-Based Approach; Jurisdictions to Decide Timing of Reopenings
    Clinical Lab at University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute of Genome Sciences Now Fully Operational for COVID-19 Testing
    Marylanders Cautioned to Remain Vigilant as Gradual, Phased Reopening Continues

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced that Maryland will begin to move into Stage Two of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ with a safe and gradual reopening of workplaces and businesses, along with additional personal services. This comes after the state’s positivity rate dropped to single digits, and total current hospitalizations fell to their lowest level in more than seven weeks.

    As with Stage One, Stage Two will be implemented with a flexible, community-based approach that empowers individual jurisdictions to make decisions regarding the timing of reopenings. All 24 of the state’s jurisdictions have now entered Stage One.

    To read the full press release click HERE

    Posted 6/4/2020


     

  • DOL & IRS Makes Changes to COBRA.

    On May 4, 2020, the DOL and the IRS jointly issued a new rule that temporarily extends certain timeframes impacting COBRA deadlines for a period of time referred to as the Outbreak Period. The Outbreak Period extends from March 1, 2020 thru 60 days following the declared end of the COVID-19 national emergency. At this time, the declared end date of the national emergency remains unknown.

    For additional information click HERE

    Posted 5/20/2020


     

  • Relief for Cafeteria Plans & Other Account Based Plans

    On May 12, 2020, new COVID-19 related guidance was released by the IRS and the Treasury. IRS Notices 2020-29 and 2020-33 provide significant new optional relief provisions pertaining to Section 125 cafeteria plans. There are several key provision changes.

    For additional information click HERE

    Posted 5/20/2020


     

  • Stage One: Governor Hogan Announces Gradual Reopenings With Flexible, Community-Based Approach

    ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan today announced the beginning of Stage One of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ which includes moving from a Stay at Home order to a Safer at Home public health advisory and the gradual reopenings of retail, manufacturing, houses of worship, and some personal services.

    Read the full press release HERE

    Read the Executive Order HERE

    Read the Interpretive Guidance HERE.  

    Posted 5/14/2020


     

  • Garrett County Launches Kick-Start Small Business Grant 

    Garrett County Launches Kick-Start Small Business Grant 
    A new local grant program will assist Garrett County’s small businesses and their employees through the COVID-19 pandemic.
     
    Garrett County Economic Development and the Garrett County Development Corporation are proud to announce the Garrett County Kick-Start Grant program. This grant program replaces the Small Business Pandemic Interim Loan program previously offered.
     
    An initial $200,000 fund has been established for the purpose of providing one-time, short-term financial support to small businesses impacted by COVID-19 that meet the program’s eligibility requirements. The funding is designed to be used for business expenses not covered by state or federal programs.
     
    “We sincerely appreciate our partnership with the Garrett County Development Corporation in providing this funding to our local business community,” said Michael Hough, Director of Economic Development. “We anticipate grant funds will be depleted quickly and encourage eligible small businesses to apply as soon as possible.”
     
    To be eligible for the grant of up to a maximum of $2,500, the applicant must be a for-profit small business, with 2 to 25 employees or a restaurant or other food service business of any size, and be native to and located in Garrett County. The business must also be able to demonstrate financial impact/damage due to the COVID-19 pandemic and show documentation of applying for other financial assistance from at least one other source.
     
    “The Garrett County Economic Development Corporation is pleased to partner with Garrett County Economic Development in the creation of the Kick-Start Small Business Grant Program. In this time of uncertainty, this grant program will provide assistance to many local businesses,” said M. Elizabeth Georg, Chair Garrett County Development Corporation.
     
    The grant application will be available online on both the Department of Economic Development’s (www.gcedonline.com) and the Garrett County Development Corporation’s (www.gcdevcorp.com) websites on Monday, May 11, 2020, at 8:30 a.m.
     
    Grant funds, which will be released to successful applicants commensurate with government executive orders establishing reopen dates, will be on a first-come, first-serve basis until the pool of funds has been depleted.

    Posted 5/8/2020


     

  • Resumption of Elective Medical Procedures and Broadening of Permitted Outdoor Activities

    As Maryland continues preparations to begin Stage One of the ‘Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery,’ Governor Larry Hogan yesterday, May 6, announced the resumption of elective medical procedures and the broadening of permitted outdoor activities under the state’s Stay at Home order. Click here for the Executive Order and view the 6 Resumptive Action slides here

    Guidance for Outdoor Activities (camping, fishing, state parks, etc.)

    Best Practices for Businesses to Reopen GOLF

    Best Practices for Businesses to Reopen MARINAS

    Posted 5/7/2020


     

  • Phased-in Reopening – Where Does Your Business Fall

    Governor Hogan has released his Maryland Strong Roadmap to Recovery and has identified three phases for reopening the economy. He has broken down businesses into three categories – low risk, medium risk & high risk – that will be grouped into the phases of reopening. We have received many questions from businesses who would like to know under what phase their business would be allowed to reopen. If you are interested to learn where your business falls in the plan, please email Psector@maryland.gov. Please note that the Governor has not yet released any specific dates to begin phase one.

    Posted 4/30/2020


     

  • Expanded Unemployment Benefits 

    On Friday, April 24, the Maryland Dept. of Labor will be launching a new, one-stop unemployment insurance application to allow Marylanders to file claims for all unemployment programs entirely online. This includes the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, and those who were previously required to file by phone like federal employees, members of the military, individuals who have worked in multiple states, and those who have worked for more than 3 employers in the last 18 months.

    The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Labor opted into providing ALL three of the expanded unemployment insurance programs offered through the provisions of the CARES Act:

    Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):

    • Individuals who are not usually eligible for regular UI and who cannot work due to COVID-19 are eligible for a maximum of 39 weeks of benefits, which includes $600 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).
    • Effective January 27, 2020 through Dec. 31, 2020.
    • Starting Friday, April 24, those who are self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, or have insufficient work history will be able to apply online.

    Full details are available at Click Here 

    Posted 4/21/2020


  • Governor Larry Hogan - Executive Order, April 15, 2020

    Governor Larry Hogan has a signed a statewide order effective Saturday, April 18 at 7 am, mandating shoppers and workers to wear face coverings in any retail establishment or on public transportation in the State of Maryland. Here are the guidelines from the CDC on how to make them at home. 

    Posted 4/16/2020


     

  • All Out-of-State Visitors to Garrett County Must Self-Quarantine

    April 8, 2020, Oakland, MD – The Garrett County Commissioners would like to remind anyone traveling to the County, despite Governor Hogan’s Stay at Home directive, must self-quarantine for 14 days.

    Over the past month, all of the local emergency service organizations have been working to collaborate and organize COVID-19 response efforts Garrett County.  The goal is to lessen the potential impact on the local rural healthcare infrastructure.

    Read the full press release HERE

    Posted 4/8/2020


     

  • Garrett Commissioners Defer Accommodations Tax

    April 8, 2020, Oakland, MD – Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Transient Vacation Rental Unit market, as well as the vacation rental market in general, the Board of County Commissioners for Garrett County has authorized an Accommodation Tax deferral.

    Read the full press release HERE

    Posted 4/8/2020


     

  • GRMC Recommends the Use of Masks and Cloth Face Coverings to Fight COVID-19

    OAKLAND, MD- Garrett Regional Medical Center recommends the use of masks or cloth face coverings in public places including grocery stores, pharmacies, and other essential businesses as outlined in the latest CDC update. The use of a simple cloth face covering or mask can help slow the spread of infection by blocking respiratory droplets, preventing those who may not know they are infected from infecting others. Cloth face coverings can be fashioned out of fabric or other common household items including scarves, t-shirts, or bandanas as an additional protective health measure when out in public. 

    Read the full article HERE

    Posted 4/8/2020


     

  • CALL TO ACTION – CONTACT THE GOVERNOR

    Your Chamber has reached out to Governor Hogan to request additional business assistance in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. We have sent a list of recommended actions that we believe the Governor needs to take that are necessary for business survival and are important to economic recovery. We need you to request these same actions by sending your own letter to the Governor. Please email your letter to Mark Widmyer, western Maryland liaison for the Governor, mark.widmyer1@maryland.gov and Mat Palmer, Office of the Governor, mat.palmer@maryland.gov, today and request that they forward your letter to the Governor. Click HERE for a copy of the Chamber’s letter.

    Posted 4/6/2020


     

  • Gov. Hogan Orders “Stay at Home”

    Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday issued a stay-at-home order for Marylanders to stop the spread of the coronavirus. That means no one should leave their home for any reason other than essential work, to get food or other fundamental reason. He said no one should travel outside of the state or ride public transportation unless it is “absolutely necessary.” The order takes effect at 8 p.m. March 30.

    The Governor said the state will enforce the directive. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the order is guilty of a misdemeanor.

    Read the official Order HERE

    Posted 3/30/2020


     

  • Message from the Garrett County Health Officer

    As the Health Officer for Garrett County I have consulted with the Garrett County Commissioners, as well as other County and State resources, and have determined that it is imperative, and in the interest of public health and safety that all TVRUs be closed, and not further rented, effective March 27, 2020; tomorrow, at 5:00 p.m. This means all existing bookings be canceled. This decision does not apply to hotel and motel occupancy but does apply to all Transient Vacation Rental Unit properties until or unless the Governor's Orders are further modified or the Interpretive Guidance of the Office of Legal Counsel directs otherwise. This decision was made in consultation and with the support of the Board of Garrett County Commissioners.  

    See the attached Health Officer's Orders 20-03-26

    Please see the attached Order and supporting documentation.  

    Please understand that this order required a great deal of consideration. I realize that this order will have an impact on agencies and owners, however the public health and safety of our community during the COVID-19 pandemic is paramount.

    Robert Stephens, MS
    Health Officer
    Garrett County Health Department
    1025 Memorial Drive
    Oakland, MD 21550
    Phone:301-334-7700  Fax:301-334-7717

    Posted 3/26/2020


     

  • COVID-19 Update Webinar Presented by the Garrett County Chamber of Commerce - March 25, 2020

    The Garrett County Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Garrett County Health Department to host a special webinar on the novel coronavirus COVID-19. The situation is very fluid but your Chamber, the GC Health Dept. and other county agencies are closely monitoring the situation. The purpose of the seminar is to prevent panic, provide up-to-date information on COVID-19, discuss steps being taken, provide recommended tips and actions for businesses to take and to disseminate materials for businesses to use and share with their employees and customers.


    Garrett County Health Department Presentation
    Garrett County Chamber of Commerce Presentation

    Posted 3/25/2020


     

  • Garrett County Department of Solid Waste & Recycling Announces Collection Site Changes

    Garrett County Department of Solid Waste & Recycling announces that Effective Tuesday March 31, 2020 ALL collection sites will be closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

    The Landfill will continue to operate on a normal schedule but the office at the Landfill will be closed. Residents can contact the landfill by:

    Email: dwbaker@garrettcounty.org

    US mail: 3118 Oakland Sang Run Road
     Oakland, Maryland 21550

    Phone: 301.387.0322*
    *Due to the current Covid-19 emergency - Please leave a message. Calls will be returned.

    Permits are available online at www.garrettcounty.org or through the mail.

    Thanks for your cooperation as we continue to fight against COVID-19.

    Posted 3/24/2020


     

  • Additional Businesses, Organizations, and Facilities That May Remain Open (per Governor Hogan's March 23 Executive Order

    Re: Order of the Governor of the State of Maryland, Number 20-03-23-01, dated March 23, 2020, Amending and Restating the Order of March 19, 2020, Prohibiting Large Gatherings and Events and Closing Senior Centers, and Additionally Closing All Non-Essential Businesses and Other Establishments

    You can read the official Interpretive Guidance HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Governor Larry Hogan - Executive Order, March 23, 2020

    Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order Monday, March 23, 2020 for nonessential businesses to close Monday evening to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. Hogan issued an executive order closing all nonessential businesses, organizations and establishments in Maryland effective 5 p.m. Monday, which is in addition to businesses already closed by previous executive orders.

    You can read the official Executive Order HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Comptroller Franchot: SALES & USE TAX NOT DUE TODAY

    Businesses who paid March Sales & Use Tax early may request refund

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. (March 20, 2020) - UPDATED: Businesses who paid their Maryland Sales & Use Taxes for March early may request a refund of their payment by emailing taxpayerrelief@marylandtaxes.gov or by calling 410-260-4020.

    To assist businesses affected by the economic impact of COVID-19, Comptroller Peter Franchot wants to remind business owners that he has extended business-related tax filing deadlines. Sales and Use Tax payments that typically would be due today do not have to be paid until June 1.

    You can read the full press release HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Social Gatherings of 10 People or More Are Banned

    Vacation Rental Home Owners May Be Impacted by MD Governor’s Orders

    The Board of Commissioners for Garrett County encourage all vacation rentals be cancelled, whether through rental companies, Air BnB/VBRO or private individuals.

    Read the full press release HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Reschedule Your Visit to the Mountains says Garrett Commissioners

    March 21, 2020, Oakland, MD – As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to change on a minute-by-minute basis, the Garrett County Health Department and the Board of Garrett County Commissioners are urging citizens to stay home, be responsible and avoid crowds.

    Read the full press release HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Governor Hogan Provides Updates on Coronavirus Cases and Statewide Response

    Asks Spring Break Travelers to Self-Quarantine For 14 Days, Avoid People Over 60
    Urges People Who Go Outside to Avoid Crowds, Playgrounds, and Pavilions
    Convenes Calls With Federal Delegation, Full Cabinet

    Read the full press release HERE

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Social Gathering Prohibition For Groups of 10 or More

    Per Governor Hogan’s Executive Order on March 19, 2020, in response to COVID-19, gatherings in the state of Maryland may not include more than 10 people. Please be informed that temporary rentals that accommodate a large gathering (10 or more) are included in this Executive Order. As such, reservations for rentals in Garrett County, Maryland that sleep 10 or more MUST be cancelled. If you have a reservation and must change it, please contact your rental home company.

    Please be aware that failure to comply with the Order may result in legal consequences, detailed in section XII of the Order, available for viewing HERE

    Posted 3/20/2020


     

  • Small Business Administration Disaster Assistance in Response to the Coronavirus 

    Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland has received official designation from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, which provides low-interest federal disaster loans for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    According to the SBA, the loans will help alleviate financial strain and allow businesses to pay bills, payroll, and accounts payable, with long-term payments stretching up to 30 years. Small businesses and private non-profit organizations can apply directly to the SBA for financial assistance here. (https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19). 

    Additional Document: 

    Fact Sheet - Economic Injury Disaster Loans

    Posted 3/20/2020


     

  • Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 and Maryland’s Unemployment Insurance Benefits Administration - Unemployment Insurance

    For answers check the Maryland Department of Labor's website. This information is updated frequently and you can click HERE to check for updates. 

    (This information is updated frequently. Check back for updates.)

    Edited 3/26/2020


     

  • Franchot Gives Maryland Taxpayers 3 Extra Months to Pay

    Maryland residents and businesses will have a three-month extension to pay their state taxes, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot said.

    State tax payments for 2019 made by July 15 will occur no interest or penalty for lateness, he said in a statement his office released late Tuesday.

    The news follows Tuesday’s announcement at the White House that the April 15 deadline for federal income tax payments is being extended for 90 days, due to the coronavirus.

    “Right now, Maryland taxpayers and businesses must stay focused on their health and keeping their lights on, both in their homes and businesses,” Franchot said in the statement. “Extending the due date for Maryland state individual and business income tax payments helps us keep cash flowing in our economy and into employees’ bank accounts.”

    To read the full press release click HERE

    Posted 3/19/2020


     

  • Maryland Travel Updates: COVID-19

    Guidance for Travelers: The Maryland Office of Tourism wants every visitor experience in Maryland to be exceptional. Maryland Welcome Centers, bars, restaurants, theaters, gyms, casinos and racetracks have been closed temporarily and  travelers are encouraged to contact businesses (attractions, stores, hotels and event venues) before visiting as many are closed for now. The safety of our visitors is our highest priority.

    For travel alerts visit the Maryland Office of Tourism's dedicated Travel Update webpage HERE

    Posted 3/18/2020


     

  • Garrett Regional Medical Center Opens Testing Site

    OAKLAND, MD – Garrett Regional Medical Center (GRMC) has opened a COVID-19 testing clinic at its location on Pythian Avenue behind the hospital campus. The clinic was established in order to provide coronavirus testing for people throughout GRMC’s 8-county service area who may have been exposed to the virus or who are showing symptoms.

    You can read the full press release HERE
     
    Edited 3/26/2020

     

     

  • Maryland Department of Planning Statement on Census 2020 and COVID-19

    TAKE 10 FOR A HEALTHY COMMUNITY.

    We take our duty to get the word out about Census 2020 very seriously. The responses from this year’s decennial Census will impact numerous critical services to the citizens of Maryland - including how many vaccines may be apportioned to each county, city or municipality of the state. These services also include healthcare, roads, infrastructure projects, emergency services, and other matters important to our everyday lives. This is in addition to the $16 billion in census derived funding that will be available to Maryland.
    The  health and safety of all Marylanders, including our staff, is of primary importance. The Department of Planning (Planning) is following the Governor’s mandates and doing all that we can to ensure that the Census counts residents in each corner of the state. This is more important now than ever. We are in the midst of a pandemic that is changing the way we approach common, daily routines – but we are also learning even more so the importance and impact of the Census.

    Census 2020 invitations are being sent to homes by the U.S. Census Bureau between Mar. 12 and 20 with instructions on how to participate. You may be thinking that responding to the Census means someone coming to your home. That’s not the case. In fact, the only reason for that to occur is if you don’t respond. It has never been easier to respond on your own, whether online, over the phone or by mail—all without having to meet a census taker. These are 21st century tools for a 21st century Census and you should take advantage of them as soon as you receive the invitation. You can even complete your Census now before the invitation arrives by simply clicking HERE.

    Instructions on the invitation will include the web address for the online questionnaire in English and 12 additional languages. Further, it also includes phone numbers for those who prefer to call in their responses. Residents can also respond via a paper questionnaire that can be mailed with a prepaid postage envelope. The deadline for responding on your own through these easy methods is July 31st. We urge you to complete the Census before that date. More information about the Census forms and deadline can be found at Census.gov.

    Planning’s Census website is a one-stop shop of information about the Census and is charged with getting the word out to all Marylanders. We do not conduct the count but are doing what we can to make sure citizens know about it and how easy and important it is to respond. Now more than ever, we are seeing firsthand how crucial the knowledge of counting citizens is. This year’s Census will inform the need for critical health care supplies such as vaccines.. We ask you to take 10 minutes to complete your form – it has a larger impact on the health and safety of our communities than you may have thought. Please help shape the future of Maryland at my2020census.gov.

    Posted 3/17/2020


     

  • UPMC Ready to Test for Coronavirus; First Collection Site Opens

    PITTSBURGH, March 14, 2020 – UPMC has developed a test for the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — and will use this test to diagnose select, symptomatic cases. The health system plans to rapidly increase capacity at its central laboratory and, if there is a need, could test hundreds of patients per week in the near future, filling a critical gap before other commercial tests come online.

    To read the full press release click HERE

    Posted 3/17/2020