ANNAPOLIS — With Maryland’s confirmed COVID-19 case count having topped 1,400 and counting, Gov. Larry Hogan ordered Maryland residents to stay home unless they have an essential reason to leave. The order takes effect at 8 p.m. Monday, March 30.
Hogan said during a press conference Monday at the State House in Annapolis that no Maryland resident should leave their home “unless it is for an essential job or for an essential reason, such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention, or for other necessary purposes.”
The governor also urged residents to avoid out-of-state travel and public transportation use, and to reschedule all “nonessential appointments of any kind.”
If a Marylander is found to be in violation of Hogan’s order they could face up to a year in jail and/or $5,000 in fines.
“This is a deadly public health crisis. We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so,” Hogan said.
The state sent out a wireless emergency alert of the stay-at-home order to all cellphones and mobile devices in Maryland at 3 p.m. Monday to ensure the message reached as many residents as possible.
Maryland now has more than 1,400 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the Eastern Shore accounting for nearly 40 of those cases. The number of coronavirus-related deaths in the state has tripled since last week, from five to 15 as of Monday morning.
Of Maryland’s more than 1,400 COVID-19 patients, 353 have been hospitalized, and 43 have recovered and subsequently been released from isolation, according to the state’s coronavirus dashboard.
Despite the Eastern Shore having significantly fewer confirmed cases of the disease relative to western Maryland, Charlie Gischlar, the Maryland Department of Health’s deputy secretary of media relations, said in a statement Monday it’s “critical” for Eastern Shore residents to stay home and continue social distancing.
“It is likely there will be other cases on the Eastern Shore, as this virus is highly contagious,” Gischlar said. “People who reside on the Eastern Shore should continue practicing social distancing and abide by the governor’s order.”
He said Hogan’s order was “clear for all Marylanders.”
During Monday’s press conference, Fran Phillips, deputy secretary of public health services for MDH, called the coronavirus pandemic “the greatest public health challenge of our lifetimes.”
“When this crisis is over, and one day it will be over, we will look back at this time in our lives as a particularly extraordinary moment,” Phillips said. “When we look back, we have to be able to say we did everything we could to save lives.
“We stayed home. We missed school. We missed our friends and all of our normal routines, so we could fight this virus and save lives. We will say, ‘We gave up so much for a while in order to save our loved ones, friends, neighbors and countless others we will never know,’” she said.
Of his stay-at-home directive, the newest of nearly 30 coronavirus-related executive orders issued in Maryland during the past few weeks, Hogan said, “Every single Marylander can be a hero simply by staying home and practicing social distancing.”