Maryland activates guard, closes schools

CAMBRIDGE —Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday took measures to fight the spread of coronavirus, activating the Maryland National Guard to a higher level of readiness, and closing 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.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announces steps designed to limit the spread of coronavirus. Photo by Dave Ryan/Dorchester Banner

“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 Wednesday, 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.

– The governor issued an executive order prohibiting gatherings of more than 250 people in close proximity.

– 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

Delaware Division 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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