Beginning at 8 p.m. Monday, Maryland residents have to stay home, except for essential reasons, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday morning.
The move puts stricter restrictions on people’s activities in further efforts to slow the spread of the COVID-19, or the coronavirus, in the region.
Hogan cited a rapid increase in confirmed coronavirus cases over the past week and residents not taking the pandemic seriously as reasons for his decision. He said people should only leave their homes to obtain food, medicine or medical attention.
The order doesn’t add new restrictions that state and local officials weren’t already encouraging, but Hogan said the order will now allow for broader enforcement. Violators could face up to a year imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. There is no timeline for when the order could be lifted.
There are several exceptions to the order, though.
Those who work in essential jobs, like law enforcement or health care workers, can still report to work. The governor’s office has shared guidelines (such as here, here, here and here) for interpreting what is essential.
Restaurants and liquor stores can continue to provide take-out and delivery services, according to the order, and people can venture outdoors for walks, jogs and hikes.
All permitted activities outside the home must adhere to social distancing guidelines, which say that interactions should be limited to groups of no more than 10 people and that people should stand at least 6 feet apart. Fran Phillips, the state’s deputy health secretary, said people should only go for walks with people they live with and for “a very short period of time.”
She cautioned that the coronavirus pandemic could continue for “months.”
An emergency alert will be sent to all cellphones Monday afternoon detailing the stay-at-home order.
Dozens of states across the country and Washington, D.C., have issued similar stay-at-home orders, albeit sometimes with different names. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized use of the phrase “shelter in place,” which, he said, is meant to describe plans if there were an attack during the Cold War or, in current times, a mass shooting.
“This is a deadly public health crisis,” Hogan said. “We are no longer asking or suggesting Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so.”
He said, however, that Maryland residents “are not locked in their homes.”
The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland has nearly tripled since Thursday, according to state data.
As of Monday morning, there were 1,413 confirmed cases in the state, 341 of which were in Montgomery County. Fifteen Maryland residents have died. More than 13,300 people had tested negative.
Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia have a combined total of more than 2,500 confirmed cases, Hogan said Monday.
Planned large gatherings and non-urgent appointments should be postponed or canceled, Hogan said.
Further, Hogan said anyone who has traveled into or out of the state should self-quarantine for two weeks.
He pointed to New York, considered the epicenter of the U.S. outbreak, where hospitals are severely short on supplies and more than 1,000 people have died.
A New York Times story Monday morning said a U.S. Navy hospital ship was docking in Manhattan to provide up to 750 additional hospital beds to care for sick people.
Hogan said in two weeks’ time, Maryland could have similar problems.
The state has opened four drive-thru testing sites — Glen Burnie, Waldorf, Landover and Bel Air.
Testing is limited to those with a doctor’s order and people with an appointment, state officials said.
Other entities also have started drive-thru testing. MedStar Health opened a site in Bethesda on Friday.
Hogan said that 51% of all positive cases are in people 50 and younger and that 56% of all hospitalizations are for people younger than 60.
He said it took three weeks to go from 0 to 1,000 cases in the Maryland, Virginia, D.C., region. After that, it took three days for the region to more than double the number of cases — from 1,000 to more than 2,500 cases.
Citing Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Hogan said there could be millions of cases of the coronavirus in the U.S. and 100,000 deaths.
“To put that into perspective,” he said, “that would mean more American deaths than the Vietnam and Korean wars added together.”
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at email@example.com
For other Bethesda Beat coverage of the coronavirus, click here.
To see a timeline of major coronavirus developments in Maryland and Montgomery County, click here.