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Yesterday was crisp and sunny.  The weather for today will include areas of frost before 9:00 am. Otherwise, today will be sunny, with a high near 63 degrees. Calm wind becoming northwest 5 to 7 mph in the afternoon. Tonight will be mostly clear, with a low around 45.

Positive COVID-19 cases continue to slowly increase in Garrett County, with the total positive cases currently at 72. The two most recent cases include a male in his 30s who has symptoms and did not need to be hospitalized, and a female in her 60s who has symptoms and is isolating at home.

Governor Larry Hogan announced on Friday that capacity for indoor operations at restaurants may increase from 50 to 75% as of 5:00 pm yesterday, with strict distancing and public health measures in place. This announcement was made in conjunction with Maryland Restaurant Week that began yesterday. I am sure that the state’s continued low testing positivity rate was taken into consideration. Maybe things are looking up as we have not seen a post-Labor Day spike in cases some feared.

I know restaurants and their workers have been especially hard-hit by the pandemic, so I am sure they welcome this relief.  Along those lines, I heard that the Brenda’s Pizzeria dining room has now opened back-up.  Good luck Brenda and team! Your takeout was a big help during the past few months. Don’t forget to consider all of our local restatuants for a nice meal that supports our local community. Here’s a link to our Dining Guide for you to savor.

As a result of improved health metrics throughout the State, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) is encouraging in-person instruction and providing $10 million in grant awards to support Maryland school systems that reopen to students this fall. Each grant award will include a base amount of $200,000 as well as a per-student allocation. Funds can be used for expenses related to building readiness and transportation.

During Child Passenger Safety Week the Garrett County Health Department is promoting several webinars hosted by Maryland Kids In Safety Seats (MD KISS) to educate families and increase the safety of children in vehicles. Here’s the scoop:

  • Webinar – Questions about Car Seats? Ask the Experts! Wednesday, September 23, 2 p.m.: Am I using the right car seat for my child? When can I turn my child forward facing? Why can’t I get my car seat tight? Certified Child Passenger Safety Technicians will answer these questions and more in an interactive presentation. Register: https://bit.ly/2CMgoBO
  • Webinar – Traveling Safely with Your New Baby. Thursday, September 24, 11 a.m.: Geared towards expectant parents and new caregivers, this presentation will provide a basic overview of how to keep baby safe while traveling in the car. Register: https://bit.ly/3hpF1mZ
  • Video Seat Check Saturday – Saturday, September 25, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Maryland is collaborating with the District of Columbia and Virginia to host a first of its kind Regional Virtual Seat Check Event. Caregivers will attend one-on-one video appointments with a Child Passenger Safety Technician using Zoom to obtain answers to their car seat questions. Register: https://bit.ly/2QmN5sq

With winter comes risk.  Here’s some tips that just came over the wire from our State Fire Marshal, Brian S. Geraci, and that can save a life:

  • Ensure chimneys are cleaned annually or more frequently if used as the primary heating equipment.
  • Use adequately sized fireplace screens or enclosures. Never use a flammable liquid to start a fire.
  • When disposing of cooled ashes, do not use paper or plastic containers to remove them, instead use a metal container. Ashes will insulate hot embers long after the fire is considered out.
  • Make sure fuel-burning stoves are installed according to local fire codes and manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Have your furnace inspected and serviced annually.
  • Check portable electric heaters for frayed/damaged wires and ensure they are clean and placed on a flat level surface. Use only “listed” appliances by an approved testing laboratory and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Do not use extension cords with portable space heaters. The extension cord can overheat and cause a fire.
  • If you use kerosene fuel-fired heaters, use only “K-1” kerosene fuel. Never fill the unit inside; remove it to the exterior after it has cooled before refueling. Note: Portable kerosene heaters are banned for use in Baltimore City.
  • Open a window enough to provide proper ventilation.
  • Keep combustibles (furniture, curtains, clothing, paper goods, etc.) at least (3) three feet from all heat sources.
  • Fuel-burning appliances produce a deadly, tasteless, and odorless gas known as carbon monoxide. Install and maintain carbon monoxide alarms inside your home to provide an early warning of carbon monoxide levels.
  • Always turn off portable heating equipment when leaving the room for extended periods. Portable heaters should never be operated unattended.

Along with these heating tips, check to make sure your smoke alarms are in good working order. “Routine maintenance and safe operation of heating equipment, combined with properly installed and operating smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, are a life-saving combination for all Marylanders,” stated Geraci.