To slow the spread of coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday ordered Marylanders to stay at home unless they are conducting essential trips to get food, medicine or to a job at an essential business.
“People are not locked in their homes. We’re just telling people that they need to stay in their homes, except for essential and necessary things,” Hogan said.
“You should be able to get outside for your own physical and mental well-being and go for a walk and take your dog for a walk,” he later said. “You should not be going out with a crowd of 100 people, congregating in a park somewhere.”
As an example, the governor said people can go out and fix leaking faucets, but they should not be out shopping for new cabinets, furniture or rugs for your house, or new clothes.
“You should be buying the necessary things you need to survive,” he said.
Under the order, restaurants and bars may remain open to deliver food and beverages or sell those items to-go. Gyms, theaters, malls, golf courses, bingo halls, casinos and tattoo parlors and non-essential retail businesses remain closed.
Businesses that are allowed to remain open must scale down staff and in-person interactions with customers and are encouraged to have teleworking as much as possible, Hogan said.
The order takes effect at 8 p.m. Monday evening. Hogan said that anyone found to be knowingly violating the order will be charged with a misdemeanor and is subject up to one year in jail, up to a $5,000 fine or both.
The governor advised Marylanders not to leave the state unless it is absolutely. Anyone who has been outside of Maryland in recent weeks is asked to self-quarantine for 14 days, Hogan said.
As of Monday morning, the state reported at least 1,413 confirmed positive cases of the virus, and 15 deaths. More than 13,000 people have been tested for COVID-19 and come back negative.
Fran Phillips, deputy secretary of the Maryland Department of Health, stressed the importance of taking these steps to flatten the curve and slow the rate of infections.
“When this crisis is over, and one day it will be over, we will look back at this time in our lives as a particularly extraordinary moment,” she said. “When we look back, we have to be able to say that we did everything we could to save lives: We stayed home, we missed school, we missed our friends–all of our normal routines–so we could fight this virus and save lives.”
The state today opened drive-through testing sites at emissions testing centers in Glen Burnie, Waldorf and Bel Air, and another at FedEx Field in Landover. Because of the limited supply of tests, only people who have a referral from a doctor should make an appointment at those sites.
Phillips said the tests are for at-risk people–such as seniors and the immunocompromised–with symptoms of COVID-19, as well as first responders, people in group homes and people with a referral from a healthcare provider.
Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, Hogan warned the Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia area could look “a lot like New York,” one of the epicenters of the outbreak, in a few weeks. At today’s press conference, Hogan renewed a call he and Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made two weeks ago to designate the region as a priority area for federally backed testing sites.
He noted the capital region is home to 400,000 federal employees, and Maryland is also the headquarters for several critical agencies such as the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command. If a large number of federal workers get sick, it could greatly hinder the federal government’s response to the virus, he said.
“The health of the National Capital Region–Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia–needs to be an urgent priority focus for our national leaders,” he said. “It is critical for the nation’s health response, for our national security, for our economy and for the continuity of our government.”
Over the weekend, the state confirmed 10 new deaths from coronavirus, and state and county officials reported an outbreak at a nursing home in Mount Airy, where 66 residents have tested positive for COVID-19.
Starting on March 12, Hogan began rolling out restrictions to slow the spread of the virus. He started by closing schools, limiting visits to prisons and hospitals, prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people and activating the Maryland National Guard.
To focus his efforts on the crisis, he delegated non-essential gubernatorial duties to Lt. Gov. Boyd Rutherford.
Since then, he has heightened some restrictions and rolled out new ones. Crowds were limited to 50 people, and then 10. All non-essential businesses were ordered to close. The closure of schools was extended until at least April 24.
Officials urged the public to avoid MTA buses, MARC trains, subways and other forms of public transit unless they were healthcare personnel or workers critical to the supply chain.
Only ticketed passengers and credentialed workers were allowed access to BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport.
The governor postponed the primary election, previously scheduled for April 28, to June 2, and moved to have a special election to fill former Rep. Elijah Cummings’ 7th Congressional District completed with a mail-in ballot.
Hogan has also called for an increase of 6,000 hospital beds to meet the likely increase in cases. The Baltimore Convention Center has been converted into a field hospital and officials are working to reopen a hospital in Laurel as part of a series of actions to get more beds.
People staying home as much as possible will help the state’s medical system from getting overwhelmed.
“Every single Marylander can be a hero just by staying home and by practicing social distancing,” Hogan said. “This will not only keep you and your family safe, but it could also save the lives of thousands of others.”
This story has been updated.
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