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Coronavirus in Maryland: Everything you need to know

We're answering your questions on the coronavirus. You asked whether it's illegal to be outside or to work outside in Maryland? Ask on baltimoresun.com/ask

The new coronavirus, known as COVID-19, has disrupted daily life across Maryland and the United States. And the situation is changing quickly — every day, and sometimes every hour. Here are the key things you need to know about the situation. Links throughout have been made accessible to all readers without a subscription.

Daily updates

  • STAY-AT-HOME ORDER: Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order for Marylanders March 30 to stop the spread of the coronavirus. That means no one should leave their home for any reason other than essential work, to get food or other fundamental reason. He said no one should travel outside of the state or ride public transportation unless it is “absolutely necessary.” The order takes effect at 8 p.m.
  • NUMBER OF CASES: The number of Marylanders who test positive is growing every day. As of April 1, Maryland has 1,985 confirmed cases of the coronavirus. Thirty-one people have died. Check here for updates on the biggest stories every day. For up-to-the-minute case and death totals throughout the world, in the United States and in specific states, click here.

Working and getting out

  • BUSINESSES THAT MUST REMAIN CLOSED: Gov. Larry Hogan on Monday, March 23 ordered all-nonessential businesses to be closed, the latest restriction intended to fight the spread of coronavirus. Hogan had previously ordered the closure of specific businesses such as bars and restaurants, gyms and malls, but his latest order took a step further. Here’s what’s still allowed to stay open during the shutdown.
  • CHILDCARE CENTERS CLOSED: Maryland schools Superintendent Karen Salmon has ordered most child care centers to close at the end of business Friday, the latest attempt to slow the spread of coronavirus. The order essentially prohibits nonessential workers from having their children in a day care center or program. Day care that is provided by friends, family and neighbors is still allowed if there are fewer than five children. Maryland will close child care for all but essential workers after Friday to slow spread of coronavirus.
  • LARGE GATHERINGS BAN: Hogan issued an executive order limiting gatherings to 10 people, following guidance from the federal government. State police and local law enforcement agencies said they were prepared to arrest those who deliberately flout the directives.
  • CANCELED EVENTS: Due to the state-imposed restrictions, most major events in the Baltimore area have been canceled, including the popular Mount Vernon Flower Mart and the Baltimore Farmers’ market. Most venues, like museums, libraries, and theaters, have also closed.
  • RELIGIOUS SERVICES: Most religious services have been either canceled or moved online in the wake of the governor’s orders.

Recreation, eating and shopping

  • PARKS REMAIN OPEN: Officials have said it’s safe to go outside, but that people should exercise caution and avoid crowds and playground equipment. State parks and parks run by local governments in the Baltimore area remain open, though many parks and rec centers have been closed and organized activities have been canceled.
  • GOLF COURSES CLOSED: All public and private golf courses were closed after Hogan’s latest order, closing all nonessential businesses.
  • RESTAURANTS AND BARS CLOSED; DELIVERY STILL ALLOWED: Hogan ordered all bars and restaurants in the state as part of social distancing measures intended to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. But carryout and delivery service will continue, and many area eateries are offering specials to entice guests. Here’s how to safely order delivery during the coronavirus outbreak.
  • GROCERY STORES: Grocery stores and big box stores are considered essential businesses. But to protect older people and those with underlying health conditions, some grocery chains have set up special shopping hours.
  • GYMS, THEATERS, ENTERTAINMENT VENUES CLOSED: Gyms and theaters were shut down the same day Hogan ordered all restaurants and bars closed. Many gyms, however, have turned to virtual workouts to keep their clients fit during the pandemic.
  • CASINOS: The state’s casinos, racetracks and off-track betting parlors were among the first businesses to be closed in the state.
  • MALLS CLOSED: Shutting the malls became increasingly inevitable as at least three in the state ― including the sprawling Arundel Mills ― had previously closed, as had anchor and specialty stores across the country.
  • OCEAN CITY CLOSES BEACHES: Ocean City has closed its beach and boardwalk to nonresidents through at least April 15.
  • MARYLAND FOOD BANK: The source of food assistance for many Marylanders remains open.

Schools and child care

  • STATE PUBLIC SCHOOLS SHUT DOWN THROUGH APRIL 24: Maryland State School Superintendent Karen Salmon initially ordered schools closed for two weeks, through March 27. She extended that closure at least for four more weeks.
  • COLLEGES MOVE TO ONLINE LEARNING: The University System of Maryland moved all undergraduate classes to online-only for the rest of the semester, and private colleges and universities in the area have done the same.
  • MEALS FOR STUDENTS: Baltimore-area school districts, governments and nonprofits will supply free meals to students in need while schools are closed. Most sites are providing grab-and-go meals for students 18 and under, or for students with disabilities who are older than 18.
  • CHILD CARE CLOSED: Maryland has ordered all child care closed to all but the children of essential workers. There are a limited number of recently announced state-funded child care programs that are reserved for the children of health care workers, first responders and others regarded as essential. There are 1,200 such slots statewide. The Y in Central Maryland is opening its 11 family centers to provide child care for hundreds of children of first responders and front-line health care workers.

Staying safe

  • WHAT TO DO IF YOU’RE SICK: Symptoms of coronavirus include a dry cough, fever, aches and pains, and fatigue. But for most of us who get sick, the advice for treatment, save for the most severe cases, is the same as for a cold or the flu: rest, fluids and chicken soup. If you suspect you have it, don’t rush off to the emergency room or even go to a doctor. Call your doctor, a nearby clinic or the local health department instead when symptoms start to ask for advice.
  • GETTING TESTED: If you suspect you have the coronavirus, it will probably be difficult to get a test. The shortage of testing kits — and the lag time between taking the tests and getting the results — has alarmed and frustrated dozens of Marylanders, many who have tried to get themselves or their loved ones swabbed for the coronavirus to no avail or who have been cast into states of uncertainty.
  • MORE HOSPITAL BEDS: Hogan plans to add 6,000 hospital beds in the state to accommodate an anticipated surge in patients needing treatment due to the coronavirus. For many hospitals, that means canceling surgeries and moving patients and their procedures to outpatient facilities. But the state is also opening a field hospital at the Baltimore Convention Center and the adjacent city-owned Hilton Hotel, as well as re-opening the Laurel Regional Hospital.

Getting and giving help

  • WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU’RE LAID OFF: Maryland has extended unemployment benefits to workers who are out of the job because of coronavirus. Here’s an FAQ on how to file for unemployment and who qualifies.
  • SMALL BUSINESS RELIEF: A state program of more than $175 million will provide businesses with grants, loans and other relief to help pay workers, suppliers, landlords and other expenses during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • COMPANIES HIRING: As layoffs continue to mount at small businesses and in the airline, hotel and hospitality industries, other employers are busier than ever meeting demands sparked by the coronavirus crisis. And they need more workers to keep up. Companies like Amazon, grocers and big-box stores are hiring and offering bonuses for hourly employees
  • HOW TO HELP: As the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to lurch the world to a halt, Gov. Larry Hogan’s office on service and volunteerism has compiled a list of civic-minded ways Marylanders can help during the outbreak.
  • SHARE YOUR STORY: To document the widespread impact of COVID-19 in Maryland, we are making direct appeals to readers to be a part of our coverage. Responses to our prompts supplement other reporting methods, including interviews and observations from the field, which continue with proper precautions.

Other resources

  • FROM THE STATE: Get the most updated info from the Maryland Department of Health at coronavirus.maryland.gov.
  • FROM THE U.S.: Get the most updated information about the virus in the United States: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.
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