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Gov. Larry Hogan said on Friday that it is unclear when the fight against the coronavirus will reach a point at which Marylanders will be able to resume “normal life.”
“I wish that I could tell you when we’re going to turn the corner — when you’ll be able to go back to work, to school or to church, or when any of us will be able to get back to living a normal life again. Unfortunately, I’m not able to do that,” Hogan said at a news conference at the State House in Annapolis.
“We simply don’t know how bad things are going to get…,” Hogan said. “No matter how long and how hard the road ahead may be, we’re all going to have to find a way together to keep going and to keep fighting this invisible enemy with everything we’ve got.”
There are 2,758 confirmed cases of the virus in Maryland as of Friday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 42 people in Maryland have died from the virus.
Despite his somber tone, Hogan also offered a message of hope.
“It may seem hard to believe right now but I am hopeful and I do believe that our state will make it through this together and that eventually we will come back stronger and better than ever before.”
Hogan asked Marylanders of all faiths to join together in prayer and reflection at noon on Sunday to remember those who have died from the virus and to pay tribute to those who are actively working to fight it. This Sunday is Palm Sunday, which marks one week before Easter.
Hogan said that he led a teleconference with the state’s coronavirus response team earlier Friday and that later in the afternoon he will convene an emergency meeting with his full cabinet “to discuss our continuing coordinating response efforts.”
Hogan said the state is setting up two additional drive-thru testing centers. They will be located at the state’s vehicle emission inspection centers in Columbia and White Oak, he said. This week the state set up drive-thru testing centers in Glen Burnie, Waldorf, and Bel Air. Testing is limited to those who have a doctor’s referral and an appointment.
Hogan said he signed an executive order earlier in the day to provide financial relief for Marylanders during the state of emergency. The order includes prohibitions on: mortgage lenders starting the foreclosure process, industrial and commercial evictions, and the repossession of cars, trucks and mobile homes. Hogan previously issued an executive order that prevents tenant evictions during the state of emergency.
Hogan also signed legislation Friday that will offer Marylanders increased access to telehealth services, which allows consumers to communicate from home with health care providers in video chats.
Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips sought to reassure residents of nursing homes that the state is working to keep them safe. Her message comes about a week after the start of a deadly coronavirus outbreak in a nursing home in Mt. Airy in which now six people have died.
“I want you to know that we are doing everything we can to keep you safe. We are working relentlessly 24-hours a day to keep you safe and in your facility — which is your home.
Phillips stressed the importance of practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus. She said that today the state has issued a directive to all nursing homes and assisting living facilities that requires their staff to wear protective masks.
On Monday, Hogan issued a stay-at-home order that prohibits residents from leaving their homes unless they are going out for essential services such as picking up groceries or medicine. That order was preceded by others that closed all non-essential businesses, limited events to no more than 10 people, and restricted restaurant service to delivery and carryout. On March 12, State School Superintendent Karen Salmon announced that the state’s public schools would remain closed for two weeks. Last week she extended the closure to April 25 at the earliest.