The state will close all child care centers, except those serving essential personnel, at the end of the day Friday, as Maryland continues to address COVID-19, a disease that has sickened at least 580 residents.
Although few children have contracted the disease in the state, they can get it. Closing child care centers marks the latest attempt by state officials to slow the spread of the virus.
The state established child care programs for essential personnel, according to a statement from Karen Salmon, state superintendent of schools. Those sites can be found at earlychildhood.marylandpublicschools.org or by calling 877-261-0060. On Wednesday, Salmon announced all public schools would remain closed for four more weeks, but online instruction will begin Monday.
The Maryland Department of Health, along with Gov. Larry Hogan, announced Thursday that the state now has 580 confirmed cases — an increase of 157 — the largest single-day increase so far in the state.
The state numbers, however, incorrectly gave Frederick County an additional case, did not include a fifth Cecil County case and did not include three Carroll County cases, making the total cases in the state 583 as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
Frederick County has five new confirmed cases of COVID-19, which brings the county’s total up to 13.
The extra Frederick County case was due to the state list having someone from Carroll County on it, said Rissah Watkins, director of planning, assessment and communication for the Frederick County Health Department, in an email.
The 580 cases include four deaths as well as 23 people who have been released from isolation. The state did not break down the 23 people by county, but the number includes the first Frederick County case.
The state also reported that 132 people were hospitalized due to COVID-19, but it is unclear how many are still hospitalized. Of the 580 cases, 298 are men and 282 are women.
There are now six children in Maryland with COVID-19, none of which are in Frederick. The majority of cases, 461, are between the ages of 18 and 64.
The number of confirmed cases in Maryland has more than doubled in four days.
There are more than 1,200 confirmed cases between Maryland, D.C. and Virginia, Hogan said in a tweet.
“The battle is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone comprehends,” Hogan tweeted. “We have never faced anything like this ever before, and I continue to urge the people of our state to stay in place at home and stay safe.”
The Frederick County Health Department did not provide any details regarding the five new cases. Now that there is community spread in the county, everyone is at the same risk of contracting COVID-19, Watkins said.
“At this time, it’s more important for all of us to be taking steps to keep ourselves and others as healthy as possible and slow the spread than to focus on numbers and who may be sick,” Watkins said in her email. “COVID-19 is in our community and affects people from all walks of life.”
The local health department will continue to update the numbers and age ranges, but it will no longer provide details about each case, Watkins said.
“We want to encourage our community to be kind to those who are affected by this and any other health issue,” Watkins said in her email. “Supporting others in their time of need is good for the person receiving support as well as the helper — as long as we’re giving that support in a safe way!”