Governor Larry Hogan today provided updates on Maryland’s COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts, and announced that he will unveil the state’s roadmap to recovery next week. State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that she has extended school closures to May 15.
“We are beginning to see some hopeful and encouraging signs which have allowed us to begin laying the groundwork to reopen, to rebuild, and to recover as soon as it is safe to do so,” said Governor Hogan. “The recovery plan we have been developing over many weeks has four building blocks that must be solidly in place before the lifting of restrictions: expanding our testing capacity, increasing hospital surge capacity, increased supply of PPE, and a robust contact tracing operation.”
“MARYLAND STRONG: ROADMAP TO RECOVERY.” Earlier this week, Governor Hogan announced the four building blocks that will be necessary to begin the state’s recovery process. The state continues to make significant progress in all four of the following critical areas:
Further updates will be provided throughout the coming days, and later next week Governor Hogan plans to introduce the “Maryland Strong: Roadmap to Recovery.”
SCHOOL CLOSURE EXTENDED TO MAY 15. State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon announced the extension of school closures through May 15 after extensive consultation with the State Board of Education and leading public health officials. School systems are in the process of developing plans for additional digital learning and the recovery of any lost instructional time in the form of expanding summer school programs. Additionally, state and local school officials are actively preparing for a number of scenarios depending on when educators and students will be able to re-enter school buildings.
UNEMPLOYMENT SYSTEM. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program is officially launching today on Friday, April 17. This program provides unemployment insurance benefit recipients with an additional $600 per week payment on top of their current regular benefits. On April 24, the Maryland Department of Labor is launching a new one-stop shop comprehensive online application for independent contractors, self-employed Marylanders, and all other types of claims, including federal employees, multi-state wage claims, and members of the military. This will ensure that every Maryland applicant, whether they are a W2 employee or not, will have the option of filing online, which will dramatically decrease call wait times, and it will also help more Marylanders get their checks faster and more efficiently. Read the Department of Labor’s release.
$8 MILLION FOR FOOD BANKS. In order to bolster the efforts of food banks around the state, the State of Maryland is investing an additional $4 million dollars to Maryland Food Bank and the Capital Area Food Bank. Additionally, the state has worked with local jurisdictions to match that investment bringing that total to $8 million dollars for these food banks. The Maryland Department of Human Services is also working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to dramatically accelerate the implementation of the state’s online Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) pilot initiative, which will enable families to purchase meals online for free delivery.
FEDERAL STIMULUS. Governor Hogan announced that he has asked President Trump to weigh in and help break the logjam in the U.S. Senate in order to secure an additional $500 billion in relief to help address revenue shortfalls in the states. Last week, the governor announced that Maryland is instituting a budget and hiring freeze amid estimates that the state is facing a projected $2.8 billion shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
SMALL BUSINESS ASSISTANCE. The governor announced that $8 million dollars of Maryland’s COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund, which is a critical pillar in Maryland’s $175 million relief package, has already been provided to 410 small businesses across the state, helping more than 9,000 Marylanders keep their jobs. To date, the Maryland Department of Commerce has received more than 9,100 applications for the state’s $50 million COVID-19 relief loan fund and more than 20,200 applications for its $75 million COVID-19 relief grant fund.
GRANTS FOR CRITICAL MANUFACTURING. The state created a $5 million fund to incentivize Maryland businesses to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to meet the current needs of the healthcare industry. The state awarded grants to three Maryland small businesses: DVF Corporation in Washington County, Awesome Ninja Labs in Baltimore City, and NRL & Associates, a Queen Anne’s County manufacturer. The state will award grants to dozens of additional Maryland companies in the days to come.