Marylanders may only leave their homes for essential work, to get food or prescriptions or for other “absolutely necessary” reasons, Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday under a new “stay-at-home” directive to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
“We are no longer asking,” Hogan said.
The order takes effect at 8 p.m. The governor said the ban includes restrictions on traveling outside of the state and riding public transportation.
Hogan said the additional measures are necessary given the concern that the virus could hinder the federal government’s ability to respond to the crisis due to the concentration of the workforce in the state and the possibility it could spread to “literally thousands” of facilities in Maryland, including hospitals, detention centers and nursing homes.
LIVE: COVID-19 Update – March 30, 2020https://t.co/WN8jLgIvMX
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 30, 2020
The stay-at-home directive will be enforced, the governor said. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates the order is guilty of a misdemeanor.
“Marylanders need to know that, unfortunately, we are only at the beginning of this crisis and it is going to get considerably worse before it gets better,” Hogan said. “I realize this is incredibly difficult on everyone in our state, but I want people to know that we have been through difficult challenges before and that we are going to get through this together.”
Marylanders are expected to receive an alert on their mobile phones today with an announcement about the stay-at-home directive.
“This is a rapidly escalating emergency situation,” the governor said.
Still, Hogan said Marylanders “are not locked in their homes.” Besides essential trips, people can go for walks by themselves or the people they live with, but only for short amounts of time. Congregating in parks or shopping for home goods is not OK.
The governor urged people to exercise “common sense.”
The situation could continue for months, said Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy health secretary.
“We have no vaccine to protect us against this virus,” she said. “We have no treatments to cure this disease.”
Phillips said that young people should not think of themselves as being immune: All are at risk. More than half of all positive cases in Maryland involve people who are age 50 and younger. Of those who are hospitalized, 56% are people younger than age 60.
Most people will be able to stay at home to recover, Phillips said. Others, however, will not be able to breathe on their own. She said the virus spreads easily and it takes days for symptoms to appear.
“This virus and this disease are sneaky,” Phillips said, adding, “What you do today, what you do tomorrow, matters. There are some very sick people here in Maryland.”
To increase the ability for people to be tested, the state has opened three drive-thru sites at Motor Vehicle Administration emissions stations in Glen Burnie, Waldorf and Bel Air, Hogan said. Another has opened at FedEx Field in Landover.
Testing at the sites, however, is “strictly limited” to those with orders and an appointment, Hogan said.
Other measures are continuing so the state can prepare for a surge in patients. The governor said the state has ordered 500 beds for hospitals to add more capacity on their campuses. A request for another 500 has been made so they can distributed wherever needed, as hotspots arise. Hogan said the state also has ordered more tents.
The governor called doctors and nurses “true heroes.” To help protect them amid the supply shortage, the state’s school systems have donated various items.
“We are all going to need to depend on each other, to look out for each and to take care of each other. We are all in this together,” Hogan said.
An outbreak in the region is especially alarming because more than 404,000 federal workers live in Maryland, Washington and Virginia and are on the front lines of the government’s response. Among the federal agencies based in Maryland are the National Institutes of Health and Federal Drug Administration.