Governor Larry Hogan confirmed three cases of COVID19 in Montgomery County March 5, declaring a state of emergency.
The term “state of emergency” is invoked to allow the governor to reallocate pre-budgeted funding upon the arisal of pressing issues. It is not meant to incite panic.
Governor Hogan assures Maryland residents the state has been preparing for this scenario for weeks now, diverting millions of dollars to emergency funds. Despite Governor Hogan’s earlier warning that schools, businesses and other public meeting places may be closed in the event of an outbreak, no plans for closures are being made at this time.
In the event schools close, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has said they devised a set of contingencies relying heavily on online learning, however, teachers have not yet been instructed to begin preparing their online materials.
Superintendent Jack Smith is supposed to meet with MCPS principals soon to discuss the county’s response to the outbreak. Currently, school systems have closed in several states, including Washington, California, Oregon, Nevada, New York and Pennsylvania.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noticed three Montgomery County residents, a married couple in their 70s and one other person in their 50s, were travelling overseas on a cruise ship where many passengers were exposed to the virus. Their travel destination has not been released, though it was confirmed they were not headed to China.
Upon reentry into the United States, Maryland’s health department contacted the individuals and recommended they be tested for the virus, especially since they were displaying symptoms of illness. Shortly thereafter, they took themselves to a hospital in Baltimore to be tested, where it was confirmed they were carrying COVID-19. It is not clear which part of the county they are from or the establishments they entered in between their arrival and their hospitalization.
Fourteen other cases in Maryland are currently being tested. There are more than 150 confirmed cases across 18 states. Eleven people have died. Members of the aging population and those with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for contracting the virus. Those with preexisting respiratory conditions or weakened lungs may need to monitor their conditions more closely.
In order to stay safe, keep these following precautions in mind:
- Regular handwashing with soap and water
- Carrying hand sanitizer and/or other mobile disinfectants with you
- Avoiding excessive/unnecessary physical contact—especially with those coughing, sneezing, or displaying other symptoms of illness
- Avoiding touching your eyes, mouth, nose, or other orifices
- Coughing and sneezing into your elbow
- Staying home if you feel ill and considering seeking medical attention
Contrary to popular belief, masks are not extremely effective at preventing disease; they are designed to be worn by the already infected. Masks foster the spread of disease by catching pathogens, which are spread to one’s hands and face when adjusting or removing the mask.
We will continue to update you as more news comes our way.