ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan this week convened an emergency meeting of the Maryland Governor’s Executive Council (Cabinet) to review the state’s ongoing response to novel coronavirus. At the start of the Cabinet meeting, which lasted nearly two hours, the governor announced new guidance for long-term care facilities to help protect older people and limit the spread of COVID-19.
State officials have identified the ninth positive confirmed case of COVID-19 in Maryland. It is a Montgomery County resident—a woman in her 60s—who contracted the virus while traveling overseas. She is not hospitalized and is in good condition. This case is connected to the same Egyptian cruise ship as five of the state’s previous positive cases. The State of Maryland now has five confirmed positive cases in Montgomery County, three positive cases in Prince George’s County, and one positive case in Harford County.
“This problem continues to evolve and to escalate rapidly,” said Governor Hogan. “I am fully committed to being transparent, providing the facts, keeping Marylanders informed, taking actions based on detailed planning, and making decisions based on the facts on the ground.”
Prior to the Cabinet meeting, Governor Hogan met with leaders from the long-term care community, which includes nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and retirement communities, to ensure that the administration is working in close coordination to ensure the health and safety of Maryland seniors.
“Older people and those with underlying health conditions are much more vulnerable and at a significantly higher risk of contracting this disease,” said Governor Hogan. “Nursing homes and retirement communities are the areas of greatest concern. This truly is an all-hands-on-deck operation and it is going to get worse before it gets better.”
Older people and those with underlying health conditions are at a significantly higher risk from COVID-19, with morbidity and mortality rates that are three to five times higher than most flu seasons. Governor Hogan announced that the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is issuing new guidance for facilities that serve older people:
Governor Hogan also spoke today with Chancellor Jay Perman of the University System of Maryland, which recently released guidelines for all their state universities and colleges. As part of these guidelines, the higher education community has been asked to prepare for students to remain off-campus at least two weeks following the end of spring break. Additionally, students should be prepared to continue all courses online, although all campuses will remain open both before and after spring break.
Maryland is currently operating under a state of emergency, and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has elevated its state response activation level. At the governor’s direction, state agencies have ramped up response and preparedness effort across all levels of government. He has also issued a directive requiring state health carriers to waive all cost-sharing regarding testing for COVID-19.
This afternoon, Governor Hogan launched a new web page, governor.maryland.gov/coronavirus, which details the administration’s ongoing response to COVID-19. For health resources regarding COVID-19, including case counts and clinician guidance, Marylanders should continue to visit health.maryland.gov/coronavirus.