Baltimore Sun: Gov. Hogan issues stay-at-home order for Maryland to stop spread of the coronavirus

By Yvonne Wenger and Pamela Wood
March 30, 2020

Marylanders may only leave their homes for essential work or urgent medical care, to get food or prescriptions or for other “absolutely necessary” reasons, Gov. Larry Hogan said March 30  under a new “stay-at-home” directive to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is the deadly public health crisis,” the Republican governor said. “We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so.”

Hogan said the additional measures were necessary given the concern that the virus could hinder the federal government’s ability to respond to the crisis. That’s due to the concentration of the capital-area workforce in the state.

The governor said he was also worried about the possibility the disease could spread to “literally thousands” of facilities in Maryland, including hospitals, detention centers and nursing homes.

For Marylanders who have followed Hogan’s prior orders and recommendations from health officials, the stay-at-home directive may make little difference. No additional businesses are required to close and residents don’t have to stay in their homes at all times.

“People have to go out and get food. They need to get prescriptions,” Hogan said. “You should be able to get outside for your own physical and mental well-being and go for a walk and take your dog for a walk.”

But with the new order and with blunt language, Hogan sought to get the attention of residents who didn’t take earlier directives seriously.

The stay-at-home directive will be enforced, the governor said.

“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.”

Hogan said people who have returned to Maryland from other states should self-quarantine for 14 days, and he discouraged residents from traveling out-of-state.

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.”

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 the Food and Drug Administration.

Maryland will need significant financial help from the federal government. This crisis is going to be “devastating” to the state budget and will perhaps drain its entire rainy day fund, Hogan said.

Since it was announced, the state has received thousands of applications for money from Maryland’s $175 million relief package for businesses and unemployed workers. One program has already provided nearly $9 million to more than 400 small business, in turn, helping more than 8,000 Marylanders keep their jobs.

Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said while he understands the governor’s new order will create more hardship for businesses, employers and employees, “it is meant to ensure that Maryland can respond aggressively to the COVID-19 pandemic and enable us to bounce back when the crisis subsides.”

Others are able to continue to operate through the use of technology, he said.

“Many businesses have fully transitioned to telework and are doing all they can to keep their operations and the economy as strong and viable during these challenging times,” Fry said. “Taking steps to provide for a healthy workforce will help with the economic recovery once we are in a position to return to normal business operations.”

To read the full story, visit The Baltimore Sun’s website.

Source: The Baltimore Sun