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Two taken to hospital after crash on U.S. 50 East near Woodlawn Memorial Park

EASTON — A sedan crashed into a guardrail Monday morning, spinning the car out of control and rolling over on U.S. Route 50 East, near Woodlawn Memorial Park at 11365 Ocean Gateway.

A good samaritan who saw the crash called 911 shortly after the accident, sometime around 10:30 a.m., after two victims pulled themselves out of the crashed car. Both were taken to the University of Maryland Shore Medical Center.

Easton Volunteer Fire Department and Cordova Volunteer Fire Company responded to the scene around 10:41 a.m. and Talbot County Emergency Medical Services transported both victims to the hospital via ambulance around 10:57 a.m.

Tim Faudree, of Grasonville, was driving with his wife on the opposite side of the highway when he saw the crash.

“It looks like he hit a guardrail, and I saw (it) roll,” he said. “When it came to a stop, they both got out, and (the man) laid himself on the ground.”

Faudree said both victims, a man and a woman, were injured, but the man “showed he was in pain, but he didn’t say anything the whole time.”

The sedan’s airbags were blown up, spreading out through the vehicle’s open doors. The front hood of the car was crumpled and window glass was nearly shattered.

Fire department personnel were on the scene, cleaning up debris from the crash. Maryland State Police and Talbot County Sheriff’s Office also responded.

EVFD Fire Chief C.R. Chance said in a phone call at 12:45 p.m. that fire department personnel “turned it over to the state police,” who are still investigating the accident.

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Biden calls 500,000 COVID deaths 'grim milestone' as numbers improve; new virus death in Talbot

EASTON — The Talbot County Health Department reported the 28th local death attributed to the coronavirus on Monday, Feb. 22.

The latest fatality comes as the U.S. surpassed 500,000 deaths linked to COVID during the course of the pandemic.

President Joe Biden marked the 500,000 deaths during a speech and moment of silence at the White House on Monday.

Biden called the number of virus deaths a “truly grim, heartbreaking milestone.”

“500,000 lives lost to COVID-19. It’s an unfathomable number, but each one represents a family that will never again be whole. To those who have lost loved ones: I know no words can numb the pain, but I hope you find some solace in knowing the nation grieves with you,” Biden said.

He has also ordered U.S. flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset Feb. 26.

Locally, Talbot County reported its 28th COVID death since the beginning of the year. The county — which has seen a comparatively low number of coronavirus deaths compared to other parts of the state and country — saw ten deaths from the virus in 2020.

The county health department has not disclosed details on the latest virus death. The Maryland Department of Health reports 17 of Talbot County’s coronavirus deaths have been among nursing home residents.

Of the total U.S. COVID deaths, 7,550 have occurred in Maryland, according to state health department. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reports California and New York have had the most COVID deaths, with 49,105 and 46,600, respectively.

Biden also continues to push Americans to get COVID vaccinations.

“The vaccines are safe. For yourself, your family, your community, our country — take the vaccine when it’s your turn and available. That’s how we’ll beat this pandemic,” Biden said Monday.

Vaccination efforts have been challenged by supply and logistical challenges, technical snafus, including for signups at a new mass COVID vaccination center opening at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Thursday, and “anti-vax” hesitation and skepticism toward the quickly developed vaccines.

Biden is deploying federal resources and U.S. military troops as part of mass vaccination efforts. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan also plans on opening a new COVID mass vaccination center on the Eastern Shore. That center is expected to open in March, according to state officials.

COVID metrics in Maryland and the U.S. have been improving with case rates, hospitalizations and the number of new deaths declining.

Hogan reported Monday that the positivity rate for COVID tests in Maryland dropped below 4% for the first time since Nov. 2. That is down 58% from a peak level of 9.43% in January.

The Maryland governor also marked the 500,000-death milestone. “Of the 500,000 lives lost to COVID-19, more than 7,500 are Marylanders. We mourn each and every one of them, and pray for their families,” Hogan said.

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Fauci: COVID masks might be required into 2022

WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Americans could be required to wear masks and face coverings into 2022.

Fauci made appearances on Sunday news shows on Feb. 21. He is President Joe Biden’s chief medical advisor on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fauci told CNN and other outlets on Sunday that he was not sure when state and federal mask mandates could be relaxed.

Biden has issued a federal COVID mask mandate that piggybacks on state orders. The federal order is being enforced on flights as well as at airports and train stations.

Biden originally said he wanted the national mask for the 100 days of his administration but has said that order could be extended to the end of 2021.

Fauci — who has served under multiple administrations including former President Donald Trump — said Sunday the need to wear masks could extend into next year.

This comes after the U.S. Centers for Disease Control came out with new recommendations to wear two layers of masks to help curb COVID-19.

It also comes as coronavirus metrics in Maryland and across the U.S. improve.

In Maryland, hospitalizations are below 1,000 statewide for the first time since November.

That mirrors national trends.

Still, Fauci said Sunday that the need to wear masks could extend longer depending on COVID numbers.

Maryland and other states already have mask mandates. Gov. Larry Hogan has dispatched state police troopers to help enforce COVID masks and social distancing orders along with local police and health departments.

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2 men die in head-on crash; another is seriously injured

CHESTERTOWN — Both drivers died at the scene of a head-on crash Sunday night in the 9000-block of Flatland Road and a passenger in one of the vehicles was seriously injured, according to Maryland State Police.

The deceased were identified as Brian Keith Bowman, 32, of Betterton and a 57-year-old man, according to an MSP news release.

Bowman’s passenger, identified as a 37-year-old man, was airlifted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.

The crash occurred at about 6:45 p.m. on state Route 514 (Flatland Road) south of Mary Morris Road.

According to the MSP preliminary investigation, Bowman was driving a 2003 Chevy Silverado northbound on Route 514 at the same time a 2004 Ford Fusion was traveling southbound.

For reasons that have not been determined, Bowman’s vehicle veered into the northbound lane and crashed head on into the Ford Fusion, the MSP reported.

The investigation is ongoing

According to a post on the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company Facebook page, Bowman’s passenger was pinned in the Silverado, which had overturned and was laying on its side. Crews from the fire company used the Hurst “Jaws of Life” hydraulic rescue tool to get the passenger out of the vehicle.

He was transferred to an ambulance at the scene and then transported to the helicopter landing zone on a nearby farm, according to the Chestertown VFC Facebook post.

Police reported that the road was closed for more than six hours, reopening at about 12:45 a.m. Monday. The State Highway Administration assisted with the road closure.

In addition to MSP patrol and aviation divisions, agencies that responded to the crash scene included the Chestertown and Kennedyville volunteer fire companies, Kent-Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad, Kent County EMS and the Kent County Sheriff’s Office.

Cambridge pursues property tax credit for cops, firefighters to live in city

CAMBRIDGE — The Cambridge City Council introduced an ordinance at their meeting on Monday, Feb. 8, intended to incentivize local police officers and firefighters to live within city limits.

Ordinance 1171 sets up criteria through which officers with the Cambridge Police Department and members of the city’s Rescue Fire Company can be eligible for up to a $2,500 real property tax credit.

If passed, public safety officers who have served actively for more than three years can be eligible for up to five years of tax credit on homes they own and occupy.

Cambridge Police Chief Mark Lewis thanked the council for the introduction of the measure.

“If it’s passed, it will be an excellent benefit to all of the police officers and firefighters in the city,” Lewis said. “It will also encourage recruitment and retention for our agency, which is something that is needed very badly.”

Rescue Fire Chief Adam Pritchett said he thought the measure could be a good incentive for RFC firefighters, and would provide an additional benefit of encouraging responders to live closer to the city.

“The closer they are to the fire station, the quicker they can get on the road,” Pritchett said.

Lewis said Cambridge officers living proximally provided the city with additional benefits, as off duty officers that are on call could respond for rapidly and the take home car policy could be more effective. Lewis said the incentive could lead to more “local young officers that are committed to the city — stakeholders in what we’re doing.”

Pritchett said of roughly 50 active RFC members, 12 live in the city, with many others living “just outside the city limits.” He said staffing for RFC has been level for 10 to 15 years and that the maximum roster of 75 has not been reached in 20 or 30 years.

Lewis said CPD has 39 of 46 potential officers, and he just received confirmation that his department is losing one officer to Salisbury Police Department on March 1.

If the ordinance is enacted, the city manager will review the number of active police and firefighters annually to determine the effectiveness of the measure.

Mayor Andrew Bradshaw said a paid model to staff two engines for RFC could cost the city $1.4 million annually.

Lewis said compensation for an officer in training could total about $45,000, which is not always recouped if an officer leaves before their five-year contract has expired.

Bradshaw said that if the currently eligible public safety officers received the credit, the decreased tax revenue would total less than $45,000.

Funding paid firefighters “is something the city of Cambridge simply cannot afford,” Bradshaw said.

He continued, “What we also can’t afford is hiring officers and being a training ground for those officers, only to watch them move on to other agencies that have higher pay and less stressful situations for their officers.”

Bradshaw called the potential ordinance a “first step” in retaining and recruiting and police and firefighters with “the necessary experience.”

The ordinance was introduced by a 5-0 vote of commissioners.