The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will test two more samples from Maryland residents for the novel coronavirus.

This makes four Maryland residents tested for the disease, which first appeared in Wuhan, China, on Dec. 31. The first two people tested in Maryland were negative for the disease.

The CDC warned Wednesday that COVID-19, the official name of the disease caused by the coronavirus COV-SARS-2, might lead to potential long-term disruptions in everyday life.

But while Maryland residents should take COVID-19 seriously, there is no need to panic, Gov. Larry Hogan said at a press conference Thursday evening.

“Let me repeat that,” Hogan said. “There is no immediate public health emergency here in Maryland.”

Hogan, along with Fran Phillips, deputy secretary for public health services, said Maryland is preparing for the arrival of the coronavirus and holds regular briefings with health care providers and health department, while also communicating with the CDC.

Hogan urged schools to have contingency plans for the disease, including if they need to be shut down, suggested that governments push back any planned large event and warned businesses they might need to adjust for employees working from home.

Hogan was late to the press conference because he had been on the phone with Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the U.S. response to the coronavirus.

He is also submitting a supplemental budget to the Maryland General Assembly that will contain $10 million for coronavirus preparation and response.

“I want to assure Marylanders that our state is taking every precaution when it comes to the coronavirus because our highest priority is keeping our residents safe,” Hogan said. “While we are hoping for the best, we are planning for the worst.”

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease, but what is known about the new disease is constantly evolving, Phillips said. The disease is thought to spread from person to person, according to the CDC.

Symptoms of COVID-19 are similar to those caused by influenza, but unlike the flu, there is no vaccine or medications for the disease caused by COV-SARS-12.

‘You know the way this new coronavirus is spread is exactly the way as influenza is spread, so I want to say it one more time: Wash your hands frequently,” Phillips said at the press conference.

It is unclear how well the virus will spread. In China, particularly in Hubei province, the disease spread easily and sustainably. In the United States, however, person-to-person spread has been more limited.

The CDC announced Wednesday the first person in the U.S. to develop the coronavirus with an unknown origin.

The severity of the disease is also still unknown, according to the CDC. The disease has caused mild to severe cases, and in approximately 3 percent of known cases, death.

In the United States, 15 people have developed coronavirus, with the total case number of 60 due to passengers from an infected cruise ship currently being quarantined.

A total of 48 countries, including the United States and China, have confirmed cases, bringing the global total to more than 82,700, according to the New York Times. Of the cases, at least 2,809 have died.

The Maryland Department of Health is in continual communication with health care providers and local health departments in the state, as well as with neighboring state governments, Phillips said. There are hotlines in every jurisdiction running 24 hours a day, seven days a week so a trained clinician can answer any call for people with potential COVID-19 symptoms.

The situation in Maryland and across the United States is currently low-risk.

Cases in Maryland are still being sent to the CDC, but Phillips said the state health department is waiting for test materials so tests can be conducted at the Maryland Public Health Laboratory in Baltimore.

She advises people to stay informed with reputable sources, to wash their hands, cover their coughs, stay home if sick, and avoid touching their face and eyes.

People should prepare for potential longer stays at home and should make sure they have essential items, thermometers, pain relievers, alcohol-based hand sanitizers and nonperishable food. It is not unlike preparing for a bad winter storm, she said.

The state has plans for what happens if a coronavirus-infected person comes through an airport or cruise dock, as well as for individual versus group quarantine, Hogan said. But right now, all plans are hypothetical.

“There are a lot of hypothetical situations that are dealt with in our plans, but it’s not something we want to speculate on because we don’t have that issue quite yet,” Hogan said.

Hogan said he is confident in the state’s ability to respond to any potential coronavirus cases and is hopeful that the state’s health research centers could be leaders in the response.

“I would encourage all Marylanders not to panic, but to take this seriously and continue to stay informed,” he said at the press conference.

Follow Heather Mongilio on Twitter: @HMongilio.

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

(8) comments

dabienus

The thing is that unlike the flu, there is no vaccine for this coronavirus. And in the worst cases this coronavirus causes viral pneumonia to settle in which means antibiotics won't work to clear it up. So yeah, while the flu is dangerous there ways to mitigate the effects. With this coronavirus...not so much.

gabrielshorn2013

No, dabenius. Once the cytokine storm of the body's immune response to flu begins, there is little effective mitigation that can be done, and the infected patient will not survive. That is what makes influenza so dangerous.

JohnSchaeffer1

Much ado about nothing .

Alice Jones

Go talk to the cdc. Se if they agree. Sounds like you follow the pope pence playbook. Get sick soon.

Frayou

So people are being tested. What’s the point? Tell me when they test positive and based on investigation what I must do to avoid being effected. Media needed to stop hyping this matter, but unfortunately, it’s all about what gets attention to sell product. Viewers need to keep this in mind. Media is in business to make money. The days of responsible media and Walter Cronkite have long gone. Unfortunate.

bosco

We can thank the media for whipping up the hysteria over coronvirus, and yet, flying under their radar is the story posted in another FNP article:

"More than 30 adults and five children have died so far in Maryland from the flu, and there are still about two months left in the season.

Of the 38 deaths reported, 33 were adults, according to the most recent weekly Maryland Department of Health flu report."

And yet, only about 50% of the population gets a flu shot every year.

Wash your hand, wash your hands, wash your hands!

gabrielshorn2013

Agreed Bosco. Folks are so wrapped around the axle about this particular strain of coronavirus that they ignore flu, which is just as deadly. Flu is not a bad cold. Flu is serious stuff, and the more people that pay serious attention to it, the better. Flu is raging across the country, and it's not too late to get the flu shot, most of the time free of charge!

threecents

Bosco, True, flu is most likely a much bigger problem. The thing with the coronavirus is that we might be able to wipe it out before it becomes a huge problem. It is highly contagious and its fatality rate may be much higher than the flu, which is only in the neighborhood of 0.1%. I don't think we have a handle yet on the number of subclinical infections, whether infection confers immunity, and if animals serve as a reservoir for the virus.

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