Hogan cited the more than 250,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. alone – "more than the Korean War, the Gulf War and the Vietnam War added together" – as a reason why people need to wear masks all the more. He continued: "There’s no constitutional right to walk around without a mask. We did it in 1918, I don’t know why we can’t do it now."
His comments came alongside new coronavirus public health guidelines announced by the state government.
The Maryland State Police (MSP) will be deploying "high-visibility compliance units" statewide, with a particular focus on bars, restaurants, event venues, nightclubs and banquet halls in downtown locations. The state police's operations will commence Nov. 25 and will continue throughout the holiday season. Alongside the state police, additional state troopers will also be assigned in every county to help educate the public about health protocols in place and preventing possible "super-spreader" events.
MSP will also expand its 24/7 COVID-19 Prevention Hotline, where Marylanders are encouraged to report "unsafe facilities and activities" or "public health order violations" by phone or email.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency will send a wireless emergency alert on Nov. 25 at 5 p.m. to all mobile phones across the state. The alert will remind the public of critical COVID-19 prevention measures and inform them of state and local law enforcement actions. The Nov. 25 announcement will be the second instance of the state government's use of this technology: It was first used in March 31 to inform residents of new stay-home guidelines during the spring season.
Aside from these three, Hogan also announced a unified public health campaign reminding Marylanders to stay vigilant and safe in this time of pandemic. He previously released guidelines on Nov. 19 urging families to "be extremely cautious with travel and gatherings" amid the Thanksgiving holiday.
Maryland was not the only state that extended its public health orders. The state of Pennsylvania also followed suit on Nov. 17, expanding an earlier mask mandate ordered by Pa. Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine.
The current orders in Pa. mandate face masks outdoors, but the expanded order requires face masks for indoor settings whenever people from different households or bubbles congregate. The expanded mask-wearing rule also applies regardless if social distancing is observed and in all indoor settings – including private homes.
Levine commented: "If [people] do not wear masks [and] do not social distance, then those communities are going to see even more spread of COVID-19." The Pa. health secretary added that the mandatory mask measures shall remain in effect in the state until further notice.
Meanwhile, Hawaii Gov. David Ige told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser during a Facebook live session that everyone in the state "will be required … to wear a mask when they’re in public." According to Ige, anyone who does not comply will be slapped with a misdemeanor – punishable by a $5,000 fine and a jail term of up to one year.
Ige said the mask mandate is now uniform throughout the state, adding that "there will be consistent enforcement." He commented that he also met with the four county mayors in Hawaii to lay down a unified set of rules for those seeking exemptions.
The governor acknowledged the effect of non-compliance toward the mask order: "This is a significant penalty. It can go on one's criminal record and impact employment for many years to come unless [they are] cleared and their records are expunged."
The mask mandates in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Hawaii come amid COVID-19 cases in the U.S. reaching the 12 million mark. Data from Johns Hopkins University shows that the U.S. now has a 12.5 million COVID-19 caseload with 4.6 million recoveries and 259,962 deaths.
Learn more about mandatory mask orders and other public health restrictions at Pandemic.news.