Maryland has reported its first coronavirus-related death: A man in his 60s.
This was confirmed by Maryland Governor Larry Hogan, during a press conference, Thursday. The man, according to Hogan, was a Prince George’s County resident and had no known exposure to COVID-19 through travel or an infected individual.
According to Maryland state officials, the deceased patient was also the first case of community transmission of the new coronavirus within the state.
Hogan, in the same conference, also confirmed that a 5-year-old girl has contracted COVID-19 – making her the youngest known person in the state to get infected to date.
According to health officials, the girl is a student at Elkridge Elementary School and is now recovering at home. The 5-year-old girl was not exposed to any students or staff at her school.
Hogan, who called for the press conference at the Maryland capitol in Annapolis, said the state now has a total of 107 confirmed coronavirus cases and that the state saw an 88 percent increase in cases within the last 48 hours.
“This fight against this global pandemic is a race against time, and we must take action now,” Hogan said, noting that Maryland is now at the beginning of a crisis.
Hogan, during the press conference, also grew agitated and pointed out that some of the state’s residents were not heeding the warnings made by public health officials.
“Some people are treating this like a vacation or a spring break with parties and cookouts and large gatherings at some of our parks,” Hogan said, reiterating warnings by authorities to avoid crowds and remain at home as much as possible. (Related: Spring-breakers pack Florida, Texas beaches as pandemic threatens societal collapse)
“Let me be very clear: If you are engaged in this type of activity, you are in violation of state law and you are endangering the lives of your fellow Marylanders,” said Hogan, who recently activated the National Guard to transport patients and move medical supplies.
Hogan, at the press conference, also announced a number of new restrictions aimed at slowing down the rapid spread of the coronavirus within the state. As per Hogan’s announcement, this includes restricting access to the state’s largest airport, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, to ticketed passengers and airport staff, as well as those who are helping disabled passengers.
Hogan also ordered the closure of all entertainment venues such as enclosed malls throughout the state. This is in addition to the closures ordered by Hogan earlier this week, which targeted public venues such as fitness gyms and movie theaters.
As part of the state’s impositions regarding social distancing, Hogan also ordered that food establishments such as restaurants, bars, distilleries and wineries restrict in-person dining.
“We’re doing this to help small businesses and restaurants and to protect vulnerable people from having to leave home,” Hogan said of the measure.
The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services meanwhile, has announced that it is discontinuing visits for individuals who are currently in infirmaries, and that it is reducing programs and movement within its facilities. According to the governor’s office, the department is now making moves to provide more video visitation opportunities for its inmates. The department has also ordered staff who exhibit flu-like symptoms to remain at home.
Other measures enacted by the state include the signing of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency Protection Act of 2020, which, aside from establishing a series of protections for individuals directly affected by COVID-19, as well as those who are more broadly impacted by the state of emergency, also prohibits retailers from price gouging essential goods like food, fuel, medicine, medical supplies and cleaning products.
As per a statement from the governor’s office, Maryland is operating under a state of emergency, which allows public health experts and emergency management officials to coordinate more closely with state and local authorities in order to handle the virus.
As of writing, the coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, China before spreading to other countries, has infected 244,517 and killed 10,030 globally.