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What You Need To Know During Maryland's COVID-19 Outbreak

Jamyla Krempel

New policies and restrictions, updated case numbers, notifications about the presence, or absence, of resources: every day, every hour, new information is released about the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it's having on people's lives abroad, and here in Maryland. It can be overwhelming. 

We're providing answers to some of the most common questions being asked in our state. 

Are grocery stores open?

Yes. Most Maryland grocery stores are operating as usual. Several stores across the state are offering special hours for residents 60-years-old and over, and those with compromised immune systems.

Are restaurants open?

It depends on the restaurant. On March 16 Governor Larry Hogan ordered all bars and restaurants to cease dine-in service. While you can't sit down and eat inside restaurants, carry-out, drive-thru and delivery services are permitted to continue. Some bars and breweries are offering grab-and-go and curbside pickup options. 

What about farmers markets?

The Maryland Department of Agriculture has asked that farmers markets continue to operate during the state of emergency. Officials are reminding residents to practice social distancing and to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. Find a list of farmers markets in Maryland here



Where can I find meals for adults?

The Maryland Food Bank has compiled a list of partners across the state that are open. The list is up-to-date until March 27. Also check with food banks in your area. 

And for children and youth?

The Maryland State Department of Education has created an interactive map of meal sites throughout the state. Click here to search by zip code or address. Maryland Hunger Solutions also has a list that you can find here

Find a Twitter list of school districts in WYPR, WYPF and WYPO's listening area here


Are the trains (and buses) still running on time?

MARC, Metro, local bus, light rail and commuter bus services have been reduced in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Maryland. See the affected routes here. On March 19 Governor Hogan 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.”

Emily Sullivan reports MTA bus passengers who are able to do so, will board buses through the back door of the bus to avoid close contact with drivers and card scanners.


I need to go to the MVA...

As of 4:30 p.m. March 20, all branches will be closed. There are a number of things you can take care of online, more information here. Of note:

  • All non-commercial driver's tests are canceled until further notice. 
  • All driver's and business licenses, ID cards, permits and registrations that expire or need to be renewed during the state of emergency will be extended. You'll have until the 30th day after the state of emergency is lifted before your licenses or cards expire. 
Can I get an emissions test?

No. All VEIP (Vehicle Emissions Inspection Stations) are closed until further notice. Governor Hogan announced on March 16 that the state intends to use VEIP stations as drive-thru coronavirus testing sites. More information here

Can I fly?

Non-essential travel is discouraged but you can still fly out of BWI-Thurgood Marshall AirportOn March 18 Governor Hogan announced access to the BWI terminal would be restricted to passengers and individuals assisting ticketed passengers with disabilities, and badged employees. The Maryland Department of Transportation will be enforcing the new policy. 

Do I need to file my taxes by April 15?

You are not required to file or pay your Maryland or federal taxes until July 15, 2020. No penalities or interest will incur during the extended deadline. Read the NPR Story here.

How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

The Maryland Department of Labor's office are closed to the public. Individuals seeking to file a claim for unemployment benefits are asked to do so online. More information about applying for unemployment here.

I need health insurance. What are my options?

The Maryland Health Connection, the state's online health insurance marketplace, has opened a Coronavirus Emergency Special Enrollment period that runs until April 15. Coverage for all plans begins April 1, 2020. Find information and enroll here

I need to renew my Medicaid coverage...

You now have until April 30 to renew your Medicaid coverage. Medicaid will not cancel your coverage. More info here

How can I find out how many COVID-19 cases there are in Maryland?

Every day at 10 a.m. the Maryland Department of Health releases updated numbers on confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland. You can see the total number of cases and get a breakdown by county here.

What's the difference between COVID-19 and the coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. The novel (new) coronavirus causes the respiratory disease COVID-19. More information on the CDC's website

What about the April 28 primary election?

Governor Hogan issued a proclamation on March 17 that moved the April 28 Maryland primary to June 2 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The decision to move the primary affects Maryland’s presidential and local primaries. The Maryland State Board of Elections (SBE) has until April 3 to submit a logistics plan for the June 2 primary election. 

Early voting will begin May 21 and run through May 28. 

7th congressional district special election 

The special election to fill the remainder of the late Elijah Cummings’ term still will be held in April, using solely mail-in ballots.

SBE reports that all voters in the 7th congressional district will receive a ballot by mail in early April. Ballots will need to be postmarked on or before April 28 to be counted. Details, including information on receiving an electronic ballot, here

Ways to vote  

Again, SBE has until April 3 to submit a plan regarding the safest way(s) for citizens to vote in the June 2 primary election, but any registered voter may vote by absentee ballot, for any reason. To download a Maryland absentee ballot application, click here

Register to vote, look up your voter information, update your registration, find your polling place, and more here

Do I have to stay at home?

It's highly encouraged by officials. Speaking during a Thursday press conference, Governor Hogan expressed frustration with individuals who refuse to practice social distancing. 

“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 a spring break with parties and cookouts and large gatherings... 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."

Additional guidance on state policies and resources on the governor's Maryland Unites page

The information in this post was gathered on Friday, March 20. The post will be updated as new policies and deadlines are announced. 

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