ANNAPOLIS, Md. — On Tuesday morning, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a statewide 30-day state of emergency due to concerns over surging COVID-19 cases across the state.
The announcement included the mobilization of 1,000 Maryland National Guard members, who will assist healthcare workers at the state and local level in combating the rising COVID cases.
“The truth is that the next four to six weeks will be the most challenging of the entire pandemic,” said Governor Hogan. “All of the emergency actions we are taking today are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary in the very difficult days and weeks ahead.”
According to a press release from the Governor’s office, on Tuesday Maryland hit a total of 3,057 COVID-19 hospitalizations – a record-high rate surpassing even earlier COVID surges in 2020 and 2021. Projections indicate that the rate may rise over 5,000 hospitalizations which would be a 250% increase over previous peak hospitalizations.
Hogan also signed an executive order that authorizes the Maryland Secretary of Health to regulate healthcare staff, bed space and supplies in order to help hospitals and nursing homes to address staff and supply shortages. The order also authorizes the expansion of EMS forces across the state, the opening of an additional 20 COVID testing sites outside of hospitals in order to disperse the number of people in hospital emergency rooms, the authorization of booster shot for 12-15 year olds and calls on Maryland employers to incentivize vaccinations, masks and booster shots to their workforce.
The declaration of the state of emergency comes just a day after the governor announced that masks will be required in all state buildings and that the state will provide two hours of paid leave to state employees to receive COVID-19 booster shots.
STERLING, Va. — Cecil County’s first snow fall for 2022 was the opposite of what meteorologists expect with some areas in the south getting better than half a foot of the white powder Monday while to the north it was little more than a dusting.
“It was a pretty tight gradient with that storm,” said Austin Mansfield at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va. The well defined bands of precipitation dropped anywhere from a half inch to an inch along the Pennsylvania side of the county. The bands heading southward dropped much more.
“They got 5-to-8 inches and, even in some areas, ten inch depths depending on where the bands were set up,” Mansfield said Tuesday.
And that was fine with David Segermark in Earleville.
“It was nice,” Segermark said of the view outside his window where he reports he had 7 1/8 inches of snow. “I have a winterberry bush full of red berries and it’s absolutely spectacular.”
However, the other boot has dropped, so to speak.
“Now I don’t love it because I have to shovel it,” he said.
Forecasters said it would be a fast storm with snow totals rising over the morning hours. That was Segermark’s observation as well.
“It was 4 inches by 10 a.m. By noon it had gotten up to six and by 1 p.m. it was approaching 7.5 inches. It came down pretty quickly,” he said.
Although Segermark said he never lost power in Earleville others in Maryland were not so lucky. According to Gov. Larry Hogan’s office more than 60,000 lost power at the height of the storm as the snow pulled down trees onto wires or slick roads caused drivers to strike utility poles.
Scott Flanigan, director of the Cecil County Department of Public Works, said crews continued to clear roads and apply salt Tuesday.
“They pushed back where drifting had occurred and put down salt on the packed snow,” Flanigan said.
Cecil County DPW had 38 employees and 30 pieces of equipment working mostly below the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Since the temperatures were in the 60s the day before, no pre-treatment was done to the roads and only 600 tons of salt was spread.
“There was nothing to plow north of Route 40. The snowfall laid on the grass and not on the ground,” Flanigan said. From 40 to the canal there was minimal activity. “From the canal south to Kent County all of the roads had to be plowed.”
Because it was powdery and the wind was gusting, roads had to be plowed more than once.
“All those open farm fields and the roads are often below the fields,” he noted.
All that having been said, Mansfield said NWS has issued a ”Potential Community Hazard Statement” for Wednesday morning.
“There’s a light freezing rain that could fall possibly along the I-95 corridor from Fredericksburg, Va. north,” Mansfield said. That would make the morning commute treacherous for some.
Then, Thursday night into Friday morning, there’s another storm that NWS is watching, which Mansfield said is more in keeping with what is typical for Cecil County.
“That forecast is showing 2.5- to 3-inches of snow with locally higher amounts in the northern parts,” he said.
Flanigan wasn’t ruffled by the forecast, adding that the county had not had any significant winter weather for several years.
“We’re due,” he said.
ELKTON — Elkton now has a new restaurant as SmoQ-N-Meat BBQ, specializing in classic barbecue like pulled pork and ribs, opened on New Years Eve.
Owner Guy Johnson said he learned how to work a barbecue grill over 25 years ago, cooking for his Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers at Tennessee State University. Johnson, who works in healthcare, moved to Elkton two years ago, and quickly began catering events.
“Everybody kept saying that they felt like I should open up a restaurant,” Johnson said. “And so that’s what made me move forward to do the business.”
Johnson said a lot of prep work is involved in his cooking, from brining the meat, which ensures that the meat stays tender and moist, to seasoning the food.
“My prep time for food can be anywhere from 8 hours to 24 hours, before I even put it on the grill,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the main flavorings he uses are garlic, onion and three types of peppers in his dry rub.
The changing, hard to predict, day to day volume of a restaurant, compared to the more predictable volume of catering events, is a difficult aspect of the transition to running a restaurant, Johnson said. Especially due to the long cooking time for his smoked meats, with the pork shoulder for SmoQ-N-Meat’s pulled pork taking 8 hours to cook.
“When somebody hires me to cook at an event for them, they tell me to cook for 250 people,” Johnson said. “In this scenario, because you don’t know the volume from day to day it can get overwhelming, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Johnson gets his tomato based BBQ sauce, Lil Mother’s sauce, from a friend in Dayton, Ohio.
SmoQ-N-Meat features pulled pork and chicken, ribs, and whole chickens, along with other dishes like Shrimp Pasta Fettuccine, or smoked corn on the cob.
Before the restaurant opened, Johnson sold whole smoked turkeys for Christmas and Thanksgiving, giving locals a chance to taste his food.
SmoQ-N-Meat BBQ held their grand opening on Friday Dec. 31, selling 150 pulled pork sandwiches, chicken leg quarters, and hamburgers, as Johnson’s fellow members of Omega Psi Phi supported him.
Johnson’s son, Guy Johnson II, arrived in Elkton two months ago, moving his family from Nashville, to help his father operate the business.
“I think we have an advantage here, all the restaurants are extremely busy and don’t have a lot of staff right now,” Johnson II said. “We have some really good food and I don’t think anyones going to have tried anything like this.”
Johnson hopes he can pass the business on to his family.
“Everyone should have a legacy they try to leave behind,” Johnson said.
SmoQ-N-Meat BBQ at 175 Fletchwood Road will be open from 11 a.m.- 8 p.m. Friday-Sunday. As it gets closer to the summer, Johnson will open on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well. On Fridays, SmoQ-N-Meat will serve deep fried catfish and potentially whiting.
You can visit their Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/SmoQNMeat.
ELKTON — A homicide investigation is continuing after a gunman or gunmen shot a Cecil County man to death at an Elkton motel shortly after midnight on New Year’s Day, according to the Elkton Police Department.
Investigators identified the homicide victim as Kenneth Lee Brown, 46, of Elkton.
As of Tuesday, no arrests had been made.
EPD officers rushed to the Sunrise Inn in the 200 block of Belle Hill Road at approximately 1:30 a.m. on Saturday, some 90 minutes after 2022 had started, and they did so in response to a reported shooting, according to Lt. Lawrence Waldridge, an EPD spokesman.
Officers found the victim at an unspecified location on the motel property, Waldridge said, adding that Brown had “succumbed from multiple gunshot wounds.”
Waldridge declined to say if Brown was a guest at that motel at the time of the fatal shooting. He also declined to say if Brown was gunned down inside a guest room or elsewhere on the motel premises.
As of Tuesday, EPD investigators still were trying to determine the events that led up to the fatal shooting, according to Waldridge.
“The cause of the shooting is undetermined, and this is an ongoing and active investigation,” Waldridge said.
Anyone with information that might help in this homicide investigation is asked to call Det. Justin Beamer of the Elkton Police Department at 410-398-4200, ext. 38, or email Beamer at JBeamer@Elktonpd.org.