Gov. Hogan Announces Additional Emergency Orders, Maryland’s First Coronavirus Death
Gov. Larry Hogan discussed Maryland’s first death from the novel coronavirus and handed down additional emergency orders that are effective immediately during a Thursday morning news conference.
Hogan first announced the death of a Prince George’s County man in a tweet Wednesday night. The man was in his 60s and had an unspecified underlying health condition and no known travel history.
“This man was infected by community transmission,” Hogan said Thursday. “Unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis. While this is the first death in Maryland, it won’t be the last.”
The Republican said that as of Thursday morning, Maryland is up to 107 cases of coronavirus – an 88 percent increase in the past 48 hours. Among them is a 5-year-old girl in Howard County, who is Maryland’s first child to contract the virus.
To curb the spread of COVID-19, Hogan announced several new travel, gatherings and commerce restrictions.
He turned an old recommendation into a new mandate: Events of 10 or more people are now prohibited throughout the state. He also said that all enclosed shopping malls and event venues will be closed at 5 p.m. Thursday.
For the third time this week, the governor, looking frustrated, directly addressed those who have ignored U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations to practice social distancing and stay home as much as possible.
“Despite all of our repeated warnings for weeks and despite the rapid escalation of the virus across our state, the region and the world, some people are treating this like a vacation or spring break with parties and cookouts,” Hogan said. “Let me be very clear: If you are engaged in this type of activity you are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders.”
Hogan said that he is trying to avoid “locking down society” and said that his decisions may seem scary and frightening, but they are also “absolutely necessary” to save lives.
The governor has instructed the Maryland Department of Transportation to restrict access to BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport to ticketed passengers and badged employees only.
He also urged “essential travel only” throughout the state’s public transit system, encouraging residents to only board a train or bus if they are emergency personnel or if their job “is essential to the supply chain.”
The governor also announced that Maryland has activated phase one of its hospital surge plan, making 900 hospital beds available immediately. He said that 1,400 more will open up by early April.
Hogan provided no major education updates, but said that he is asking the entire state university system to finish the school year online. Schools will remain closed through at least March 27. State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon is in regular contact with officials of local school districts, he said.
Hogan also issued an order allowing the carry out and delivery of alcohol from bars and restaurants, distilleries, breweries, wineries in order to support small businesses while encouraging people to stay home and avoid crowding in stores.
“Stay home to help us stop the spread of the virus,” Hogan said. “If we all do our part and rise to the challenge, we will get through this together.”
He acknowledged the anxiety some residents may be experiencing and announced a new website, Maryland Unites, to connect residents with ways to help others during the coronavirus crisis. For one, the Red Cross is experiencing a blood shortage.
“If you are healthy, please consider donating blood,” he said.
Hogan also shared immediate priorities he is requesting from the office of the President: a push for dedicated coronavirus funding, increased access and supply of personal protective equipment and ventilators, giving governors flexibility to use National Guard if necessary and firm guidance on how to implement the defense act.