UPDATED: Montgomery County first responder, man in 20s have coronavirus disease

UPDATED: Montgomery County first responder, man in 20s have coronavirus disease

Governor says first responder case is connected to Christ Church Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

| Published:
Hogan March 11 resized

Photo from live stream of Gov. Larry Hogan's remarks

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that a volunteer first responder in Montgomery County and a Montgomery County man in his 20s are among the latest people to test positive for coronavirus disease.

With the latest updates from Hogan — one in the afternoon, another at night — Maryland has 12 cases of the disease, which is known as COVID-19.

Hogan said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the first responder lives in Prince William County, Va., and the case is connected to the emergence of coronavirus disease at Christ Church Georgetown in Washington, D.C. The church’s rector, Rev. Timothy Cole, has coronavirus disease.

However, Montgomery County Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said in an interview Wednesday, after Hogan’s press conference, that a male volunteer firefighter has tested positive for COVID-19, but that he doesn’t live in Prince William County. Goldstein declined to say where the firefighter lived.

Asked about the difference, Mike Ricci, a spokesman for the governor’s office, wrote in an email that his office had been told the patient was from Prince William County.

The three positive cases announced Wednesday night included the Montgomery County man in his 20s, a Baltimore County man in his 60s and a Prince George’s County man in his 60s.

Hogan’s office said in a press release that the Montgomery County man was not hospitalized. No additional information about him was given.

The press release said the Baltimore County man worked at a recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C. He also was not hospitalized.

The state is looking into the travel history of the Prince George’s County man, the press release said.

Hundreds of people have been advised to self-quarantine if they were at Christ Church Georgetown during the last week in February, or on March 1 or 3, The Washington Post reported.

Hogan did not provide additional details about who the volunteer is or where in Montgomery County the person volunteers.

Hogan said the Maryland, Virginia and D.C. health departments are coordinating in handling the case. It is not considered a Maryland case for the purpose of tracking positive results.

Maryland had 94 negative tests as of Wednesday, according to the state Department of Health. On Thursday morning, the department posted that it will no longer report on the number of negative tests, since commercial labs are also doing testing.

“Our state’s chief epidemiologist has cleared both the fire station and the fire crew where that patient volunteers and has no major concerns regarding potential risk to the community,” Hogan said.

Goldstein wrote in a memo to the department on Tuesday that a firefighter self-reported that he tested positive for the disease that day and that both Montgomery County and Maryland officials started investigating.

The firefighter, Goldstein wrote, last reported for duty more than a week ago, and no one who had been in contact with him reported experiencing any symptoms of coronavirus disease.

“Over the course of the day, epidemiologists and other public health officials at the State and County level agreed the member was not contagious at the time of their participation at the station,” Goldstein wrote in the memo.

“The crew ran a single emergency call and health officials do not recommend testing for that contact. In short the member posed no threat to other providers or to the public.”

Hogan also said during the press conference on Wednesday that officials from the state’s Department of Health will test everyone who attended an event at The Village at Rockville retirement community on Feb. 28 for coronavirus.

The event was attended by one of the first three people in Maryland who Hogan announced last week had tested positive for COVID-19.

Of the 12 cases considered to be in Maryland, six are Montgomery County residents.

Hogan also announced a number of other measures Wednesday aimed at reducing crowd sizes to control the spread of the disease. Those measures included:

  • Shifting the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration to an appointment-only system to reduce foot traffic from walk-in customers
  • Ending visits to the state’s Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services for people in infirmaries while also providing more “video visitation opportunities” and requiring staff with flu-like symptoms to stay home
  • Putting additional restrictions on the state’s Department of Veterans Affairs facilities, including a ban on international travel for staff

Hogan also announced Wednesday that the state’s health insurance marketplace is establishing a special enrollment period due to the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to the 12 Marylanders who have tested positive for coronavirus, others were being monitored after taking similar overseas cruises and 12 people were on the Grand Princess cruise ship docked at the Port of Oakland in California.

Hogan has said those on the Grand Princess were being taken to military bases in Georgia and Texas for testing, but he did not have an update on Wednesday.

Those who test negative might return to Maryland, Hogan said. Those who test positive must remained quarantined on the military bases.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had reported 938 cases of coronavirus in the United States and 29 deaths, although some estimates Thursday morning had the number of cases surpassing 1,000 cases and more than 30 deaths.

Managing Editor Andrew Schotz and staff writer Caitlynn Peetz contributed to this story.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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