Schools closed, Guard active

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
In this image taken from his online press conference, Gov. Larry Hogan, center, with a panel of senior state officials announced Thursday afternoon measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.

CAMBRIDGE — On Monday morning, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced measures to fight the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, as he said the state will be more aggressive in facing the threat. The moves were in addition to ones he declared on Thursday, which included closure of public schools and activation of the Maryland National Guard.

On Monday, the governor ordered restaurants, bars and theaters to close by 5 p.m. He also canceled gatherings of 50 or more people.
As of Monday, there were 37 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland, with one in Talbot County.

State agencies were working closely with federal authorities to deal with the crisis, officials said Monday. However, there are not enough test kits available in Maryland, or around the nation, to check for the presence of the virus.

On Thursday afternoon, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency. Among his orders were the activation of the Maryland National Guard to a higher level of readiness, and the closure of public schools from March 16-27.

Flanked by senior state officials, he also announced Thursday Maryland’s first case of community transmission — that is, not a result of travel — which indicated a change in the situation.

“We are entering a new stage of this crisis,” Gov. Hogan said. “We should expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly increase.”
On March 11, the World Health Organization declared the spread of the virus, also called covid19, to be a global pandemic.

Maryland agencies have been working for weeks to prepare responses if necessary, the governor said. Now that a state of emergency has been declared, Gov. Hogan announced the following decisions:

  • The Maryland Emergency Management Agency has been moved to its highest alert level.
  • The Maryland National Guard has been activated by executive order.
  • All state government will be elevated to Level 2, and those employees who are authorized to telework will do so.
  • Public access to state buildings, including the State House, will be restricted.
  • All senior centers are closed.
  • The cruise ship terminal in the Port of Baltimore is closed.
  • Extensions of licenses and permits will be allowed.
  • Hospitals are directed to enact new visitor policies.
  • Prisons will suspend visits.
    These measures, Gov. Hogan said, “could be the difference in saving lives and keeping people safe.”
    How long the crisis will last, though, is still unknown. “It’s impossible to know how long this threat will continue,” he said. Addressing Marylanders directly, he said, “We are all in this together and we cannot stop the spread of this virus without each and every one of you doing your part.” Superintendent of Maryland Public Schools Dr. Karen B. Salmon next spoke from the podium, saying, “All public schools will be closed” for two weeks beginning on Monday. “It is crucial that we take immediate measures.”
    While students and teachers stay at home, schools and buses will be cleaned and disinfected, Dr. Salmon said. She added that spring break can be used for make-up days, and that plans are being made to continue meals during the time schools are closed.
    “We will get through this together,” Gov. Hogan said.

Helpful Coronavirus links

Maryland Department of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage

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