UPDATED: Maryland orders restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms to close; police will enforce

UPDATED: Maryland orders restaurants, bars, theaters, gyms to close; police will enforce

'We’re not fooling around anymore,' Hogan says

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Gov. Larry Hogan

File photo

Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday morning ordered all restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms and spas across the state to shut down by 5 p.m. today as the latest measure during a state of emergency to halt the spread of the coronavirus disease.

Drive-through and carry-out orders will be allowed.

Hogan also increased restrictions on public gathering. Previously, no more than 250 people could congregate in one spot. The new limit is 50 people.

Hogan said he enacted an emergency order to carry out these new measures, which will be strictly enforced. He said 250 state troopers are ready to be deployed.

He said police and the National Guard will work together on enforcement.

“We’re not fooling around anymore,” Hogan said.

Grocery stores, gas stations, banks, pharmacies, and food delivery services are among the businesses that can remain open.

Hogan also has ordered the state Department of Health to assess reopening closed hospital facilities across the state. He said the department needs to take whatever measures are necessary to immediately get another 6,000 beds.

He also ordered the department to establish and implement appropriate policies and procedures for receiving, stockpiling and distributing all assets received by the state from the strategic national stockpile.

“As I have repeatedly stressed, we should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise,” Hogan said. “We have never faced anything like this before.”

He activated the Medical Reserve Corps, a network of volunteers. Of the 5,000 trained volunteers, 700 are being deployed.

Any medical practitioner with a valid out-of-state or expired license will be allowed to practice during the state of emergency.

“It is impossible to know how long this threat will continue,” Hogan said. “What I do know is we cannot afford to wait to take action.”

Of the Maryland National Guard, 1,000 soldiers and airmen have been fully activated. Another 1,200 guardmen are on enhanced readiness status.

Hogan prohibited any utilities from shutting off service to customers during the emergency and charging any late fees. He also prohibited the eviction of any tenant during the emergency.

The state now has the capability of providing three meals a day and a snack to students through a federal waiver. Hogan said there are 138 centers already providing meals across the state.

In addition, nine of the Marylanders who were stranded aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship on the West Coast because of positive cases of coronavirus will be arriving home and be in the care of the National Guard. All nine were tested and the state is waiting on the results before the National Guard will take them home.

“While these measures seem extreme, if we do not take them now, it may be too late,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he did not know how the April primary election would be handled, but said officials are “actively looking” at it and “working on contingencies.”

Fran Phillips, the state’s deputy secretary for public health services, said there is a shortage of testing kits and chemicals that go into the lab processing of the tests. Three major commerical labs and the state lab are able to analyze tests. In addition, Johns Hopkins Medical Labs in Baltimore is the only hospital lab that currently has federal approval to do testing, Phillps said.

There are approximately 9,000 hospital beds in the state and the goal is to bring in an additional 6,000 beds. Phillips declined to tell reporters how many ventilators are in the state and expected from the national stockpile.

“I can’t go into those details right now, but we are beginning to receive shipments from the stockpile,” she said.

Karen Salmon, Maryland’s state superintendent of schools, said emergency hospital staff, police units and other emergency personnel would be getting child care relief in the coming days. Additional day care centers are expected to open on Thursday for those employees.

Other day care centers continue to operate and have been told by the state to have groups no larger than 10 and to frequently clean the facilities.

Salmon said the state is also looking at using teacher candidates, who would normally be doing internships, to fill in at day care centers. The candidates could get their hours, as well as provide enhanced services for the children at the center, she said.

This story will be updated.

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