Gov. Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency Thursday evening as a result of the first three positive tests for the new coronavirus from three Montgomery County residents.

The residents are a couple in their 70s and a third person in their 50s who were overseas on the same trip, Hogan said. Their symptoms seem to be abating and they are moderately sick. They are not hospitalized.

All three of them are in isolation and are not leaving their homes, said Fran Phillips, deputy secretary of public health services. They have been cooperative in sharing details of their trip and who they interacted with, Phillips said. More details are expected Friday, but Phillips said officials “want to understand exactly where they went and who they interacted with.”

They returned home on Feb. 20 and were tested on March 3 at a hospital. For confidentiality reasons, Phillips would not disclose where the three people had traveled. The state health department called ahead to let the hospital know that the three people were coming so staff could prepare. Once they had been tested, they returned home.

While Hogan stressed the need for Maryland residents to be prepared, he added they should go about their daily routines and go to work and school as normal.

“This news may seem overwhelming, but it is not a reason to panic,” he said.

The state of emergency authorizes the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Emergency Management Agency to ramp up coordination among state and local agencies and fast-track coordination with state and local health departments and emergency management teams. It also opens up more opportunities for obtain federal funding to address treatment and prevention of the coronavirus. 

Hogan announced late last week, that he would be including $10 million in the supplemental budget to address the state's response. He also proposed emergency legislation that authorizes up to $50 million be pulled from the state's so-called rainy day fund if necessary — a move which he said seems to have bipartisan support. 

The state has been preparing for a positive case for some time now, Hogan said. Having a positive case was not unexpected, Phillips said.

Hogan also said the Maryland State Department of Education has issued guidance to school local systems regarding authority to close schools if necessary. And the Maryland Higher Education Commission is coordinating to potentially bring students home from study abroad programs or cancel other overseas travel plans.

Having the Maryland Public Health Laboratory testing samples means results are delivered quicker than when the state had to send samples to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Phillips said.

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As of Thursday morning, 31 Maryland residents were being tested.

It is unclear if any of the other cases being tested are in Frederick County. Like with the flu, the Maryland Department of Health will not release the county locations of people being tested, saying releasing the county could identify the person, spokesman Charlie Gischlar said in an email.

“Per MDH policies and law surrounding confidentiality, patient information is not disclosed,” Gischlar said in the email.

Other states do not have the same policy.

Maryland House of Delegates and Senate leaders Sen. Bill Ferguson (D-Baltimore) and Del. Adrienne Jones (D-Baltimore County) said they appreciated the health department’s response to the cases.

“We have the best health professionals in the world and have complete confidence in the ability of the medical community and the State and Local governments to work together to contain the effects of the COVID-19 virus,” Jones and Ferguson said in a joint statement.

Before the first positive case, Dr. Barbara Brookmyer, Frederick County health officer, said in an email that the risk of contracting COVID-19, which is the official name of the disease caused by the new coronavirus, would depend on the circumstances.

It would make a difference if the person had returned from an area where there were widespread infections in a community, but then stayed home upon arrival and did not come in contact with anyone, for example, Brookmyer previously said.

And risk for others will continue to depend on exposure, she said.

“For example, if someone never leaves one’s house, then even the neighbors would not be expected to have met the definition of ‘close contact,’” she said in the email.

Now that a case has been identified in Maryland, actions will be taken to identify the source of the person’s infection and determine where the person had been and who might have had contact with the person while they were infectious, Brookmyer said.

Other actions will be dependent on the source of the person’s illness and those the person came in contact with while infectious.

It is flu season, Phillips said, so others might question if their flu-like symptoms are due to the coronavirus. Symptoms of the disease are generally a temperature of at least 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit, a cough and trouble breathing, she said. If people do decide to get tested, Phillips asked that they call before visiting a health care provider so that health care provider can help them decide what to do and so the health care provider is prepared.

Heather Mongilio is the health and Fort Detrick reporter for the Frederick News-Post. She can be reached at hmongilio@newspost.com.

(42) comments

LeBlancp01

Coronavirus trackers. The City/County are negligent in regulating Guest Accommodation services and knowing where Airbnb are and who is using them throughout the jurisdictions. They are blind to over 160 Tourist Homes and Bed and Breakfasts which means there are 3-5000 guests from around the world wondering around town. Frederick City in particular is ignoring their own Tourist Home regulation that requires them to know where Airbnb are, ad requires a on site manager and a guests registry (name, address) that can be made available to authorities if needed like all other accommodation in the City. Please get involved and see that the City uses this tool to help protect its citizen as intended by the City Zoning Laws..

Kelpfarming

What good are test kits if you have no cure? Its so obvious that Get Trump hysteria is in the middle of this too. The vast majority RECOVER. Why isnt that being talked about. Oh yeh, GET TRUMP RESISTANCE. Cheers

vodalone

Dumb. Who was president when Ebola broke out? Do you not remember 24/7 coverage on all news networks and broadcast networks? Do you not remember the "OJ Bronco" helicopter footage of the Ebola patient being transported in an ambulance to Ft. Detrick? I guess the media was out to get Obama then....

Kelpfarming

Agreed. The cabal of the leftists media are hysterical

vodalone

FYI Fox News (conservative media) were covering the Ebola outbreak the same as CNN or MSNBC. Your argument makes zero sense.

awteam2000

Coronavirus cases are increasing by the moment, now surpassing 300 cases, 15 fatalities. Not through contact in travel or direct contact with travelers returning from overseas but through community spread.

“We need mass testing”. Top NIH Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director, Dr. Anthony Fauci says “we need millions of coronavirus test kits”. The virus is here.

Kelpfarming

Whats the kit gonna do? Nothing. Another billion dollar waste to discover people have what CANT be cured. CLosing down the borders...well, its more effective prevention

threecents

Declaring a state of emergency might effect travel to and from MD, which could include truckers. Hogan's decision might severely effect the local economies.

walter3rd

Hopefully some positives can come from all of this, including: 1) better handwashing habits, particularly after using restrooms, and 2) better pandemic preparedness for our country and the world.

Comment deleted.
threecents

Kelp is definitely part of our national identity. For some reason, when I read his comments I think of strange fruit on poplar trees.

Comment deleted.
shiftless88

Probably because the seasonal flu and coronavirus are not the same? Because no one has been vaccinated? Because transmission seems fairly simple? Because mortality rates are higher than the flu?

Comment deleted.
sevenstones1000

Maryland should have closed their borders before letting you in, yes.

awteam2000

The federal government should do a better job of communicating- explaining to the general public the difference between influenza (flu) and the Coronavirus, how this is spreading faster then “H1N1” did in 2009 and no one is immune to. The scale in potential infected and mortalities at risk. It’s important for the public to clearing understand the “dos and don’ts” to lower risk, sanitary and prophylactic protections, avoid infected and if ill staying home to prevent spreading to others.

This is at beginning of a World wide pandemic emergency. This should be taken very seriously before it gets out of hand and spirals out of control.

fnpreader123

It's essentially the same mortality rate as Pneumonia for elderly, and it seems to really be fine for the young (and the healthy.) Learn to read statistics, and stop letting fear govern thoughts and actions.

Dwasserba

There is a shot for pneumonia, nothing for this. *Thank God* it seems to avoid the young, but they can possibly can be symptomless carriers...keep in mind how many commenters here may be seniors with pre-existing conditions.

awteam2000

Funshine, my mother died February 24th, 10:35pm- age 99, 5 months and 4 days. She clearly was in declining years but when we called emergency services, she was showing all the symptoms. There’s nothing we could have done to extend her life and her-end most likely wasn't caused by the Coronavirus. But it would be nice to know if me, my wife or care givers led to her demise as carriers of the virus. I wouldn’t want to infect others.

My mom wasn’t a stat.

gabrielshorn2013

Condolences regarding your Mom aw. May you find peace. Now I understand your insistence. If she did not travel to an affected region, nor did her caretakers, in all probability she was neither infected, nor did you transfer to her, especially if none of you have become symptomatic since her passing.

Alice Jones

Sympathy and prayers for your mother and family, AW.

awteam2000

Thanks guys for your condolences.

MRS M

Thank you, funshine, for the words of guidance.. It will be interesting to see if "fear takes over to govern thoughts and actions" when cases are confirmed in D.C. What comes to mind is the fact Trump scheduled, cancelled, and then apparently re-scheduled his trip today to the CDC, on the report the CDC MAY have had a confirmed case in house. And why not? He is, in fact, "elderly", as are the 2 Democrats running, and a good many of the Senate members. Wondering whether "fear" will govern their actions to get outta town post haste on private jets.....or whether they'll just believe the president, knowing "this will all be gone by April" and "everything is under control" (thanks, Kudlow). And let's not forget those fun rallys, and campaign visits for all the rest, with lots of hands to shake, and coughing crowds to face.

Kelpfarming

Democrats should take it seriously because it gets worse Open borders philosophy goes to a vote. Uh oh for packing the party in the future.

jwhamann

Coronavirus is cool looking. Hasbro should make a rubber toy of it.

gabrielshorn2013

It's only a matter of time.

https://www.giantmicrobes.com/us/content/shopall.html?p=1

The Grape of Wrath

Gee. Three flu cases = emergency? What would he call the imminent 300 cases?

Dwasserba

Well. They were all on the same trip. A group trip means contacting everyone they interacted with during and since. How long was the trip. How long before they showed symptoms. Limiting this to 3 is unlikely. A precaution to ramp up response.

Comment deleted.
Dwasserba

Oh, that. Like every other Saint Patrick's Day?

Seanm57

“ Symptoms of the disease are generally a fever at least 110.4 degrees Fahrenheit”

Think you need to fix the temp error. If anyone has a 110 degree fever they are already dead.

Okorange57

110.4 degrees?!? Surely that’s a typo...

rbthomps

Definitely a typo - not uncommon for FNP.

User1

See they changed it o read “100.4”. More like it.

Piedmontgardener

Doing everything right. It's a shame Larry Hogan isn't running for President - this is exactly how you handle a public emergency. Particularly appreciate the guidance pieces to schools, we will be well served during this trying time by the people in our state government.

public-redux

He exhibits loyalty, he says what he means, he means what he says, he doesn’t assert that he is above the law, he treats everyone with decency. He wouldn’t stand a chance in Republican primaries.

Comment deleted.
KellyAlzan

Ignorant

dabittle

"Like with the flu, the Maryland Department of Health will not release the county locations of people being tested or positive for the disease, saying releasing the county could identify the person, spokesman Charlie Gischlar said in an email."

Really...WTW!?!? A questionable nanny-state government decision to be sure...and on this I call foul.

The Grape of Wrath

Not to worry. The coronavirus will be in FrCo before you know it, whether they name the county or not.

sevenstones1000

Not releasing the County puts us all at risk. I doubt seriously that saying “Baltimore County” would identify anyone.

Is the Health Department tracking their movements over the past few days and contacting everyone they came in touch with?

The Grape of Wrath

Silly seven. You are at no greater risk without knowing the county than if you did.

Comment deleted.
threecents

Say for hypothetical, one person who now has the disease was spotted at your Walmart or your kid's school. Then there would be a call to close that Walmart or school, and then to quarantine everyone who has been there and then the whole county, state, and country over hypothetical exposures. Just sayin.

Comment deleted.
gabrielshorn2013

Yes, and so did a former commenter. Three's 12:12 response is spot-on. Would knowing the exact location change your behavior? It shouldn't. Since they were infectious long before they showed symptoms, there is no telling who they encountered, or what they touched, nor what anyone they infected touched after they became infectious but remained asymptomatic. You should be following the same precautions as you would in the flu season:

1) Wash your hands, often. Especially after touching an environmental surface or another person.

2) catch your cough or sneeze on your shirt in your elbow

3) avoid crowds whenever possible

Welcome to the discussion.

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