Governor Hogan Declares State of Emergency
Good evening, thank you all for being here.
A few hours ago Maryland’s state public health laboratory confirmed the first, positive cases of the coronavirus in Maryland.
Here is what we know right now: The three patients are residents of Montgomery County. They include a married couple in their ’70s, and another individual in their ’50s. In all three of these cases, the virus was contracted during overseas travel. The Maryland Department of Health has notified all three patients of their test results. They are all currently cooperating and in good condition. They are in quarantine and a thorough investigation is underway to fully determine any of their potential recent interactions with the public.
We have notified Vice President Mike Pence along with the CDC. We notified Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich, the Montgomery County Department of Health, and the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools. We also notified House Speaker Adrienne Jones and Senate president Bill Ferguson.
While this is serious news, I want to again remind everyone that this is exactly what our state has actively, and aggressively been preparing for, for many weeks now.
In order to further mobilize all available state resources in response to this threat to public health, I have issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency in Maryland. With this declaration, I am officially authorizing and directing the Maryland Department of Health and the Emergency Management Agency to ramp up coordination among all state and local agencies and enable them to fast-track coordination with our state and local health departments and emergency management teams.
Earlier today, we submitted our supplemental budget which included $10 million dollars for emergency coronavirus preparedness expenses. We also submitted emergency legislation to allow us to transfer any necessary resources from the state’s rainy day fund for any further costs associated with the state’s emergency coronavirus response.
Given the rapidly evolving nature of this threat to public health, it is critical that we have the flexibility to immediately access these resources. I want to thank Speaker Jones and President Ferguson for their cooperation.
We are encouraged that this legislation has strong bipartisan support. Our expectation is that the legislature will pass this emergency legislation immediately and get it to my desk, so I can enact it.
At my direction, the Maryland Department of Health has worked with the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems to coordinate surge planning. Health is coordinating with nursing homes and assisted living facilities on infection-control protocols. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency has elevated the state response activation level and fully activated the State Emergency Operations Center to further support resource requests from around the state.
The Maryland State Department of Education has issued guidance to local school systems regarding their authority to determine school closures if necessary. The Maryland Higher Education Commission is coordinating with University System of Maryland institutions on bringing students home from study abroad programs and potentially canceling other travel overseas and all state agencies have reviewed and updated their continuity of operations plans.
Our administration’s highest priority is keeping our residents safe. All of the actions we are taking will allow all levels of government to better collaborate and to respond to this threat in a coordinated and effective manner.
While today’s news may seem overwhelming, this is not a reason to panic. Marylanders should go to work or go to school tomorrow just as they normally would. At the same time, I want to continue to remind everyone to prepare themselves and continue to stay informed.
As the CDC warned last week, local schools and daycares should be prepared with contingency plans for potential long-term closures. local communities and cities should be prepared to modify, postpone, or cancel mass gatherings. And local businesses should be ready for office closures that require their employees to work from home.
These are the kinds of things that people should continue to plan for. We will continue to track this rapidly evolving situation and will be receiving almost constant up-to-the-minute information.
The public should be assured that our state’s preparedness builds on decades of planning experience and expertise gained from previous and ongoing public health events. We are very fortunate that Maryland has some of the top health research facilities in the world. I am confident in our state’s ability to respond effectively to these three cases of coronavirus, as well as to any future cases, and to be a national leader in responding to this situation and in developing treatments, and perhaps even a vaccine.
We will continue to update our citizens as this situation develops. All of the latest information can be found by visiting health.maryland.gov/coronavirus. Residents can also dial 211 to connect with a helpline representative to get information and community resources for the coronavirus.