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Non-essential businesses ordered to close; 2nd COVID-19 case in Calvert

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All non-essential Maryland businesses were to close Monday at 5 p.m., Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced during a Monday morning press conference.

He noted that the order did not include "shelter in place," although he encouraged people to stay home unless they need to purchase supplies, food or seek medical assistance, for example.

Hogan and the secretaries of commerce and labor also announced measures to help businesses and laid-off employees.

The moves come on the heels of Calvert County getting its second confirmed case of the coronavirus over the weekend. The person didn't travel outside of the Southern Maryland region over the past month, reinforcing the potential that anyone can become infected through routine contact.

St. Mary's County announced its first confirmed case of the virus on Saturday and on Tuesday, March 24, announced two more cases. All three involves persons in their 20s. 

Hogan announced a $175 million business relief program that includes $7 million for small business to retain employees; $75 million to fund working capital for companies with fewer than 50 employees so businesses can pay their rent, employees and suppliers; $50 million for grants of up to $10,000 for businesses that have lost revenue; $5 million to provide incentives for businesses to manufacture masks and personal protective equipment; and $40 million in commercial finance programs.

Secretary of Labor Tiffany Robinson said businesses can apply for up to $50,000 from the layoff aversion fund and get an answer within two days.

Information on these and federal programs can be found at businessexpress.maryland.gov/coronavirus.

The order closing non-essential businesses applies to those sectors not covered by the federal guidelines, which include: healthcare, public safety, food, energy, water/wastewater, transportation, public works, critical manufacturing, financial services, communications and certain government functions.

Hogan said the state has ramped up its unemployment insurance, and Robinson said the state labor department has temporarily waived all work search requirements.

Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz said the state is encouraging restaurants to continue offering carry-out service.

As of Monday, there were 288 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Maryland with three deaths attributed to it.

Hogan said that "many people" were not following his order from last week to not gather in groups of more than 10 persons, adding that folks were checking out cherry blossoms and visiting Ocean City beaches, for example.

Twitter:@CalRecCALEB

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