Gov. Hogan made several announcements at a press conference Monday about the COVID-19 coronavirus in Maryland. There are currently 37 cases in the state.
He signed an executive order for the Maryland Department of Health (MDH) to conduct an assessment to open closed hospital facilities in the state and add 6,000 hospital beds. Hogan activated the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps, with 700 members already activated for deployment. Fran Phillips, deputy secretary of public health services for the MDH, said the state is looking at measures to remove some non-urgent patients who may not need care right away in order to increase hospital capacity.
“While these measures may seem extreme, if we do not take them now it could be too late,” Hogan said.
He said any medical practitioner with an out-of-state license or expired Maryland license will be able to practice in Maryland.
LIVE: COVID-19 Announcement – March 16, 2020https://t.co/Fi0eflWVig
— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) March 16, 2020
Hogan signed another executive order prohibiting utility companies like electricity, gas and water from shutting off services or charging late fees, and prohibited evictions during the state of emergency.
“I will make whatever decisions and take whatever actions are necessary to save the lives of thousands of Marylanders and to protect our way of life itself,” Hogan said.
Maryland is providing three meals a day and a snack to students while schools are closed for two weeks starting Monday. 138 food distribution locations are already up and running. Residents can access mdsummermeals.org for all locations in the state.
Nine Maryland passengers aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship docked off the coast of California will be coming home this evening, Hogan said. The state does not have their coronavirus test results yet, and the residents will be in the care of the National Guard.
Phillips acknowledged a shortage of testing kits in Maryland. She said there is a “law jam” that every hospital and commercial lab in Maryland is experiencing, and she hopes that the governor can work with federal officials to fix it. Phillips said the state is putting into motion the capability to roll out more accessible testing when it becomes available.