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‘We’re On Fire When It Comes To COVID,’ Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott Says As Tightened Restrictions Take Effect

 BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Mayor Brandon Scott urged people to support local businesses as tighter restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of COVID-19 are set to take effect in Baltimore Friday evening.

During a news conference Friday morning, Scott asked Baltimoreans to order a meal from their favorite restaurant as a way of showing support.

“We have to wrap our arms around these businesses and their workers in every way possible right now, and I want them to know that we’re going to support them,” he said.

City leaders stressed any activity in which people remove their masks, including dining indoors and outdoors, puts people at a higher risk of spreading the virus.

A day after being sworn in earlier this week, Scott announced a number of new restrictions aimed at slowing the virus’s spread, including closing indoor and outdoor dining at restaurants and imposing 25% capacity restrictions at religious facilities, retail stores, malls, and personal service establishments. Those restrictions take effect at 5 p.m. Friday.

Scott said the decision to implement the restrictions was not made lightly.

“I want every single business owner, consumer, and Baltimorean to know that these restrictions are for the health and safety of our community. Period,” he said. “We are in a life-or-death situation; these decisions that we make today, no matter how tough they are, will determine whether community members will survive or not. That’s what this is about. This was not a popular decision but it’s the right one.”

Health commissioner Dr. Letita Dzirasa said the city is seeing around 250 new cases per day, adding community transmission of the virus is widespread. The city’s hospitals are at 88% capacity.

Half of the people who test positive for the virus do not have symptoms, she added.

“There are many people right now who are moving around Baltimore City interacting with their friends and coworkers feeling fine but spreading the disease unknowingly,” she said.

Officials also announced a new COVID-19 testing site opened Friday in northwest Baltimore. The new site at the Zeta Center, 4501 Reisterstown Road, is open from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. People do not need an appointment or referral.

The opening of the new site is part of the city’s plan to move some COVID-19 testing indoors as winter nears.

All 24 Maryland Jurisdictions In Red Zone For COVID Case Rates, Gov. Hogan Says

Scott went a step further than Gov. Larry Hogan, who on Thursday said all 23 counties, as well as Baltimore City, were in the “red zone” in terms of COVID-19 cases.

“Governor Hogan said yesterday that the state of Maryland is in red. No, we’re on fire when it comes to COVID, and we all have to understand that,” Scott said.

Police Commissioner Michael Harrison said officers will be patrolling the city to enforce Scott’s executive order on Friday and in the days to come.

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