The Maryland National Guard on Friday evening began setting up operations in Baltimore City to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pictures of a line of Humvees outside the warehouse at Oriole Park at Camden Yards and of guardsmen outside the SpringHill Suites downtown began circulating online in the afternoon. Baltimore Sun photographer Ulysses Muñoz found two guardsmen loading gear on a luggage cart outside the hotel, and later, a group of Humvees under the I-395 overpass.
In a statement, Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said he requested the Guard in the city “to provide humanitarian assistance in partnership with our city agencies as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19.”
The mayor said the National Guard troops will help distribute meals at school sites and help local medical teams plan their response to the virus.
“I am confident that the deployment of the National Guard will help ensure Baltimore City has everything it needs to fully address COVID-19,” he said. “I would like to thank Governor [Larry] Hogan for working closely with the City of Baltimore and other counties throughout the State.”
As of 10 a.m. this morning, the state of Maryland had 149 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
Hogan activated the Maryland National Guard on March 12 as part of an initial series of actions responding to the virus. Other actions included the closure of schools, limits on visitors at hospitals and prisons, and restricting gatherings of more than 250 people.
Crowds have since been limited to 10 people.
In a statement tonight, Hogan’s spokesperson Mike Ricci said the Maryland National Guard will carry out a number of operations, such as transporting patients, setting up triage tents and building a testing site outside FedEx Field in Landover.
On Twitter, the Maryland National Guard tried to quell fears that the presence of troops was a sign of “a threat of martial law.”
“If you see a @MDNG Humvee on your street, know we are helping someone in need! Whether it’s delivering much needed supplies or setting up tents for health screening stations, we are working for you!”