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How Salisbury churches are adapting to COVID-19
As COVID-19 cases surge across the country, some Salisbury churches have moved their services online.
Maryland small businesses that accepted COVID-19 relief loans from the state will not be required to pay that money back, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday.
The state will forgive $75 million in small business loans by converting those payments into grants, Hogan said.
The Republican governor also announced he is taking executive action to protect businesses from sudden or substantial increases in their unemployment taxes. The state’s unemployment system has been strained this year as hundreds of thousands of Marylanders sought benefits during the pandemic.
Hogan said Maryland’s government had to take action to support the state’s businesses because Congress has not reached a deal on another federal stimulus package.
“Congress continues to fail at the one simple thing we have been asking them to do for the last eight months, which is to provide additional emergency relief for our struggling families and small businesses,” Hogan said, speaking at a news conference in Annapolis.
“…Today we are taking a series of additional state actions to help businesses struggling to hang on, to avoid the prospect of more layoffs and to try to keep some businesses from going out of business,” he said.
Hogan on Thursday also announced a series of other financial initiatives:
- $94 million in new grants and other investments to help treat Marylanders with diabetes, which is a key risk factor for people who contract COVID-19
- $25 million in low-income housing tax credit projects, which will help create 2,000 units of affordable housing
- $12 million through the rental housing works program to spur more projects
- $10 million to support law enforcement, youth services and victim services during the pandemic
Hogan did not announce any new pandemic restrictions, even as several local jurisdictions began to introduce stricter measures this week.
In Baltimore, Mayor Brandon Scott said Wednesday that all indoor and outdoor dining would close, and that businesses would be required to limit capacity to 25%. Anne Arundel County followed suit on Thursday.
Pandemic news: How Salisbury churches are adapting to COVID-19
Hogan said decisions to close outdoor dining don’t “compute with any of the advice we’ve gotten.”
“It’s not something that I think I would have done,” Hogan said.
He also said he is weighing additional statewide restrictions against the harm they will do to Maryland’s economy.
“It is a death sentence for a number of these small businesses, so we will take those actions only when we really, absolutely deem them to be essential to saving lives and stopping the hospitals from overflowing,” he said.
Coronavirus cases have been surging across Maryland for weeks. The state has seen more than 2,000 new cases each day for more than a week.
Hospitalizations in Maryland reached a new record-high on Thursday with 1,720 beds in use by COVID-19 patients.
Madeleine O’Neill covers the Maryland State House for the USA Today Network. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @maddioneill.