Gov. Larry Hogan ordered the shutdown of all bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms in Maryland, effective at 5 p.m., to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
The governor said the unprecedented steps will be disruptive and “may seem scary” but said that “we have never faced anything like this before.”
“We should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise,” the governor said. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding.”
“We should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise. This is going to be much harder, take much longer and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding.”
Hogan delivered his warnings in a more urgent tone than President Donald Trump, who had declared Sunday that the nation faced “a very contagious virus” but that “it’s something that we have tremendous control over.”
Hogan delivered his remarks outside of the State House – a setting that allowed media members and others to maintain social distancing.
With Maryland under a state of emergency, Hogan had previously prohibited large gatherings and events of more than 250 people. That was in keeping with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.
But the CDC has since recommended that events with 50 or more people be canceled or postponed. Hogan ordered Maryland to follow suit.
The order limiting gatherings to 50 people applies to social, community, religious and recreational or sports activities.
“These emergency orders carry the full force of the law,” the governor said.
While closing restaurants, Hogan’s order would allow drive-thru, carryout and food delivery service to continue.
Grocery stores, banks, pharmacies, gas stations and other essential services would remain open.
Other steps taken by Hogan included ordering state health officials to assess whether closed hospital facilities could be open across the state and take other steps to increase capacity by 6,000 beds.
Maryland currently has about 8,000 hospital beds, Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Frances Phillips said after Hogan’s remarks. “The goal is to be able to bring another 6,000 beds on board, and that’s just for acute care,” she said.
He also activated 250 Maryland State Police troopers of the mobile field force to prepare for deployment.
Hogan said utilities – including electric, gas, water, sewer, phone, cable TV and Internet companies – are prohibited from shutting off residential customers or charging late fees.
And he said his order barred the eviction “of any tenant” during the state of emergency. Hogan said the state has also activated the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps – 5,000 medical volunteers – to assist if necessary.
Hogan said the new steps are “going to be a huge hardship” but that Americans “will have to hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.”
The governor acknowledged that “We’re being more aggressive, I think, than some people.” But he said: “By these actions, we’re going to stop the spread and we’re going to save lives.”
After a stern warning from Hogan on Sunday to Maryland bars and restaurants and their patrons, eight businesses in Fells Point announced that they were shutting their doors out of an abundance of caution.
On Sunday, Hogan also ordered the shutdown of the state’s casinos, racetracks and off-track betting parlors indefinitely in an attempt to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland rose to 37 Monday, an additional six cases since Sunday, according to the Maryland Health Department.
There have been 15 confirmed cases in Montgomery County, 10 in Prince George’s, four in Baltimore County, two in Harford County, one in Baltimore City, one in Anne Arundel, one in Howard, one in Carroll, one in Charles, and one in Talbot, according to the Gov. Larry Hogan’s spokesman Mike Ricci.
Howard County and Loyola University Maryland reported their first cases of the new coronavirus as statewide numbers continued to climb and casinos, racetracks and even a local mall were ordered closed Sunday and officials let the public know that business as usual was no longer an option.
Officials with the state health department had told senators Sunday in a briefing that the next 36 to 48 hours are going to be critical, stating they were moving from trying to contain the spread to mitigation.
UPDATED: Monday 11 am.
No gatherings of 50 or more | All restaurants and bars ordered CLOSED except for drive thru and carry out. Hogan says State Troopers and National Guard will enforce orders saying “We’re not playing around anymore.” “Emergency orders will carry the full force of the law,” Hogan re-iterated.
“We have never faced anything like this before, said Hogan. He continued, citing “Drastic actions” being taken right now. He warned Marylanders the orders may seem scary and may sound extreme, it is absolutely necessary.
Here is what Governor Hogan announced at 11 AM Monday 3/16:
250 State Troopers activated for emergency service
400 Army and Air National Guard activated, 1000 more MD National Guard activated. 1200 Maryland guardsmen on enhanced readiness status ready to respond.
Maryland Department of Health ordered to open all closed hospitals to increase the number of beds for 6,000 patients. 700 Maryland Medical Reservists activated to provide care. Any out of state medical professionals can now practice in Maryland to assist with medical care.
Bars and Restaurants ordered CLOSED except for drive thru and carry out operations.
No sports, religious, community or any gathering over 50 people is allowed
Food services, banks and stores to remain open
Utilities may not turn off service until further notice
Evictions are prohibited until further notice
State health officials say not enough kits or chemicals to process the kits available. Hogan and state partners working to resolve testing issues for labs. If you have flu like symptoms: cough, fever over 104, respiratory distress: YOU MUST STAY HOME ! Call your doctor for guidance. 9,000 hospital beds available now with 6,000 being added for acute care.
Hogan wrapped up his remarks by telling Marylanders that “It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue.”