Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday, March 16, ordered the closure of bars and restaurants, and expanded the prohibition on gatherings to those of more than 50 people — the latest in a series of unprecedented actions to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hogan also announced a public health surge designed to combat the crisis and ensure that Maryland has the capacity and the infrastructure to treat patients.

“We have never faced anything like this ever before,” said Hogan. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding. And unfortunately, far too many people have chosen to continue crowding bars and restaurants, willingly putting the health and safety of others in grave danger. Decision makers at the federal, state, and local level are going to have to take drastic actions right now that may seem scary and may sound extreme. They will be terribly disruptive, but they are also absolutely necessary to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans.”

Closure of bars, restaurants, fitness centers and theaters

Hogan has issued an amended executive order to close all bars and restaurants in the state, as well as fitness centers, spas and theaters, effective at 5 p.m. Monday, March 16. Read the emergency order at https://t.co/LQlJEqBmwR?amp=1.

The order allows for restaurants to continue carry-out, drive-through and delivery services, and allows for eateries in healthcare facilities to remain open.

Prohibition on gatherings of more than 50 people

Effective immediately, gatherings of more than 50 people, including social, community, spiritual, religious, recreational, leisure and sporting gatherings, are prohibited at all locations and venues. Details are in the emergency order.

Planned large gatherings and events must be canceled or postponed until after termination of the state of emergency and the proclamation of the catastrophic health emergency has been rescinded.

Public health surge

“At my direction, we are marshaling every tool in the arsenal of public health to combat this crisis and slow the spread of this pandemic,” said Hogan. “It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue. What I do know is that we cannot afford to wait to take action. While these measures may seem extreme, if we don’t take them now, it could be too late.”

Hogan has issued an omnibus healthcare order (https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Executive-Order-Health-Care-Matters.pdf) that puts into place the following:

  • Standing up an additional 6,000 beds: Hogan has directed the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to work with providers to reopen closed hospital facilities across the state and take other measures necessary to immediately increase our capacity by an additional 6,000 beds.
  • Activation of Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps: At the governor’s direction, the Secretary of Health has activated the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, a trained and dedicated force of 5,000 volunteers from across the state.
  • Resource control: The Secretary of Health is ordered to establish and implement appropriate policies and procedures for receiving, stockpiling, rationing and distributing all assets received by the State of Maryland from the Strategic National Stockpile and all assets needed for COVID-19 testing.
  • Interstate reciprocity for healthcare licenses: Under the order, any person who holds a valid, unexpired license as a healthcare practitioner that is issued by another state may, at a healthcare facility in Maryland, engage in the activities authorized under that license.
  • Inactive practitioners: Any inactive practitioner may, at a healthcare facility in Maryland, engage in activities that would have been authorized under his/her inactive license without first reinstating his/her inactive license.
  • Elective medical procedures: The Secretary of Health is authorized and ordered to take actions to control, restrict and regulate the use of healthcare facilities for the performance of elective medical procedures, as necessary to respond to the catastrophic health emergency.

Relief for residents and families

  • Prohibition on utility shutoffs: Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits electric, gas, water, sewage, phone, cable TV and internet service provider companies from shutting off any residential customer’s service, or charging any residential late fees. Read the governor’s emergency order.
  • Prohibition on evictions: Hogan has issued an emergency order that prohibits Maryland courts from ordering the eviction of any tenant who can show that their failure to pay rent was the result of COVID-19 — for example, because of lost or reduced unemployment, or needing to care for a school-aged child — or because they are diagnosed with, or under investigation for, COVID-19. Read the governor’s emergency order (https://governor.maryland.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Executive-Order-Temp-Evictions-Prohibiting.pdf).
  • Expansion of available school meals: State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon announced that the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) applied for a federal waiver and beginning today, has the capability to provide three meals a day, and a snack, to students impacted by the statewide closure of schools. MSDE has 138 meal distribution centers across the state, which can be found at mdsummerschools.org.

Activation of additional personnel 

  • National Guard: After issuing an executive order last week directing the National Guard to move to a higher state of readiness, Hogan announced the activation of two Area Support Medical Companies in order to carry out any necessary emergency functions and critical areas of need in the coming weeks. At the direction of Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen, as of Monday, 1,000 Maryland National Guard soldiers and airmen are fully activated and another 1,200 guardsmen are currently in a state of enhanced readiness.
  • Mobile field force: At the direction of Col. Jerry Jones, the Maryland State Police has activated its Mobile Field Force, which is composed of 250 Maryland State Troopers who are ready to be deployed across the state.

Resources for businesses

The Maryland Departments of Commerce and Labor have compiled resources (https://businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus) to help businesses whose daily operations are affected during the state of emergency. Members of the business community are being encouraged to reach out with their questions by sending a message to Secretary.Commerce@maryland.gov.

State of Emergency

The World Health Organization has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic. The State of Maryland is continuing to operate under a state of emergency, and all levels of government are taking a comprehensive, collaborative approach to keep Marylanders safe. The list of ongoing state actions is available at governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

For health resources regarding COVID-19, including case counts and clinician guidance, Marylanders should visit coronavirus.maryland.gov.

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