Three Notch Road became considerably less crowded this week during rush hours after the governor laid out a few restrictions for Marylanders.
Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Thursday morning imposed a 10-person-or-less restriction on social gatherings, which was once 50 people earlier this week. Traffic around Naval Air Station Patuxent River noticeably decreased as workers begin staying home. On Wednesday, the naval air station commands implemented maximum-telework flexibility with limited onsite operations.
“So we are still operational and we have expanded our telework options,” Patrick Gordon, the base’s public affairs officer, told The Enterprise. “Basically, we’re still open for business and trying to maintain the mission as best as we can.”
He added they are also trying to be as healthy as possible. Which people can telework is dependent on personnel, he said. Mission-essential people, like law enforcement and those who guard the gates, have to remain on base.
“That’s why there’s very little traffic,” Bonnie Green, the executive director of The Patuxent Partnership, said. She said there are probably 60 to 75% of those on base are now working remotely.
As of Monday afternoon, Naval Air Station Patuxent River had not met the criteria for the declaration of a public health emergency under Department of Defense instructions, which include severe degradation of mission capabilities or normal operations, or health care needs exceeding available resources.
The drill hall closed starting Tuesday, though, and many events on base have been canceled. For information about the base, people are encouraged to follow at www.facebook.com/NASPaxRiver and on Twitter at @NASPaxRiverPAO.
More than 100 Marylanders have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, a family of viruses, some of which can infect people and animals, named for the crownlike spikes on their surfaces. And Wednesday night, Hogan announced Maryland had its first coronavirus death, a Prince George’s County resident in his 60s. On Thursday, the crowd limit was reduced to 10 people.
The viruses can cause the common cold or more severe diseases such as SARS, MERS and COVID-19, the latter of which first appeared in late 2019 in Wuhan, China.
Residents can call the COVID-19 Community Hotline at 301-475-4911 Mondays through Saturdays between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. for information relating to the coronavirus.
During a Monday morning press conference, Hogan said starting at 5 p.m. all bars and restaurants were to close, with an exception for carry-out, drive-throughs and delivery businesses. Gatherings of more than 50 people are now banned, closed hospitals will be reopened to add more beds, Maryland’s Medical Reserve Corps will be activated, and three free meals per day will be given to students in need while schools are closed, which could be extended beyond the initial two-week closure that started Monday.
At a Tuesday morning press conference, Hogan announced that the state’s primary election originally scheduled for April 28 will be postponed until Tuesday, June 2. Also, the Preakness Stakes horse race in Baltimore, the second jewel of racing’s Triple Crown, will likely be postponed until “sometime in September,” rail and bus services in the state will be reduced, and all non-commercial driver’s license tests are suspended, he said.
Last week, Hogan and Karen Salmon, the state superintendent, said schools will be closed from March 16 to March 27.
As of Thursday morning, no cases has been confirmed in St. Mary’s County. But if and when it does hit the county, health officials say they have a plan in place.
“The first case means the launch of public health investigation and containment. Our public health team will continue to work to prevent transmission of the virus. We may look at additional community mitigation strategies, though this would depend on the details of the case,” Jenna Guzman, spokesperson for St. Mary’s health department, said in an email.
Hogan also enacted an emergency order to expand child care access to critical personnel, like health care workers, emergency medical services and law enforcement, during the state of emergency and closure of schools.
Commissioner President Randy Guy (R) declared a state of emergency that went into effect Saturday, March 14. The emergency declaration follows a similar statewide measure signed earlier by Hogan. The county declaration authorizes the commissioner president “to take such measures as necessary to maximize the preservation of life and property, including the authority to require protective measures and responses,” according to a release from county government.
MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital in Leonardtown is now offering drive-through testing for people with a prescription from a medical provider or the health department outside the Outpatient Pavilion entrance between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.