Tonight, Governor Larry Hogan announced the state’s first positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and declared a state of emergency to ramp up Maryland’s coordinated response across all levels of government.
“In order to further mobilize all available state resources in response to this threat to public health, I have issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Maryland,” said Governor Hogan. “With this declaration, I am officially authorizing and directing the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency to ramp up coordination among all state and local agencies and enable them to fast-track coordination with our state and local health departments and emergency management teams.”
This afternoon, Maryland’s State Public Health Laboratory in Baltimore confirmed three positive cases in Montgomery County. The patients, who contracted the virus while traveling overseas, are in good condition and are in quarantine at their homes.
Earlier this week, the Hogan administration introduced emergency legislation granting the governor the authority to transfer resources from the state’s rainy day fund for Maryland’s novel coronavirus response. Additionally, the governor submitted a supplemental budget today for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) that requests $10 million for emergency coronavirus preparedness expenses.
“While today’s news may seem overwhelming, this is not a reason to panic,” continued the governor. “Marylanders should go to work or go to school tomorrow just as they normally would. At the same time, I want to continue to remind everyone to prepare themselves and continue to stay informed. I am confident in our state’s ability to respond effectively to these three cases of coronavirus as well as to any future cases, and to be a national leader in responding to this situation and in developing treatments and perhaps even a vaccine.”
Information and updates about COVID-19 in Maryland are available at health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. During the press conference, the governor detailed the state’s ongoing response to COVID-19, including:
Maryland Department of Health (MDH)
- MDH continues to coordinate with the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and all state, federal, and local partners to lead response efforts.
- Earlier this week, MDH received approval from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and began testing for coronavirus at Maryland’s State Public Health Laboratory.
- MDH is participating in daily briefing calls with the CDC and federal partners. MDH also continues to coordinate with local health departments, as well as other state agencies, on preparedness and response to the virus.
- The Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) and MDH, in partnership with the Maryland Hospital Association, are coordinating around surge planning, including ambulance re-routing plans, suspension of voluntary admissions, and enhanced methods of medical monitoring for home-bound patients with mild to moderate symptoms.
- MDH is coordinating with nursing homes and assisted living facilities to review and reiterate guidance on infection control and medical management.
- MDH has released public service announcements regarding statewide preparedness efforts.
Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA)
- MEMA has increased the State Response Activation Level and fully activated the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in order to coordinate state agencies and support resource requests.
- MEMA has worked with all state agencies to review and submit their Continuity of Operations (COOP) plans.
- On March 6, MEMA and MDH are hosting a meeting with all agency representatives in an effort to finalize the COVID-19 Statewide Plan.
- On March 19, MEMA and MDH will hold a cabinet-level tabletop exercise (TTX) which will include preparedness and response.
Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE)
- MSDE is coordinating with MDH to provide guidance to local school systems on protocols for school closures.
Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC)
- MHEC is coordinating with University System of Maryland institutions that are bringing home students who are studying abroad in Italy, South Korea, and China.
Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)
- MDOT is actively engaged with air travelers, motorists, transit riders, freight carriers and other customers to provide them information on CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19.
MDOT Motor Vehicle Administration (MDOT MVA)
- MDOT MVA is sharing information regarding COVID-19 on monitors at all branch offices.
BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport
- Coronavirus awareness signage has been posted on electronic signs around the terminal at BWI.
- The CDC’s information cards on coronavirus are available at BWI information desks and have been supplied to fire department personnel.
- BWI’s website includes information about COVID-19 for the traveling public to access.
Port of Baltimore
- Ports America Chesapeake has adjusted hours of operation at Seagirt Marine Terminal, the Port of Baltimore’s container facility, due to lower cargo volumes at that facility. Operating hours at other terminals in the Port of Baltimore are not impacted. Cruise operators, in partnership with U.S.Coast Guard and the Maryland Port Administration, have established screening procedures for travelers and crew members.
MDOT Maryland Transit Administration (MDOT MTA)
- MDOT MTA is cleaning all transit vehicles and will adjust cleaning schedules based on guidance and protocols issued by MDH and CDC.
Maryland Department of Commerce
- Commerce is coordinating resources and providing information for businesses and tourism-related organizations.
Maryland Department of Budget and Management (DBM)
- DBM has issued guidance, and revised and updated their telework policy for state employees.
Maryland Department of General Services (DGS)
- DGS has increased inventory of hand sanitizers, including security desks and free-standing stations, in all state buildings.
Daily Prevention and Preparedness
At this time, there is no vaccine for COVID-19. Prevention measures center on frequent hand-washing, covering coughs and sneezes, and separating people who have respiratory symptoms.
Treatment for COVID-19, as with any coronavirus infection like the common cold, includes the use of over-the-counter fever-relievers, drinking plenty of fluids and resting at home to help relieve symptoms. Those with more severe symptoms may be hospitalized to provide additional support.
While much remains unknown about COVID-19, the CDC reports that people who are elderly and who have chronic health conditions appear to be at higher risk for infection. These chronic conditions may include cancer, diabetes, heart disease or any issue that lowers the body’s immunity to germs.