xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Howard County reports its first coronavirus case; Ball declares state of emergency; Columbia mall to close for a week; CA shuts down

Howard County on Sunday confirmed its first case of coronavirus, as County Executive Calvin Ball has declared a state of emergency and announced that The Mall in Columbia and other commercial gathering places will be closed for at least a week.

The first confirmed case in the county is an 82-year-old woman with an underlying health condition who is a resident at Lorien Health Services’ Elkridge facility. She is being treated at a hospital, though Howard County could not confirm which one.

Advertisement

Lorien Health Services said they notified residents and visitors who were in close contact with the patient. They also said there were no confirmed cases at their other three locations.

“Six members of our department were exposed to the patient. All providers have been contacted, are self-quarantining and are in relatively good spirits considering the circumstances,” said acting Fire Chief Bill Anuszewski.

Advertisement

Howard County Health Officer Maura Rossman said there was limited information but that the patient has generally not been in the public.

"This is a time for calm and reason. We all need to do our part,” Rossman said.

At the 3:30 p.m. news conference, Ball signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency effective Sunday at midnight.

Ball also announced sweeping social distancing measures, including closing the mall, excluding restaurants with external access, closing the shops at Savage Mill and closing the county’s movie theaters beginning Sunday at midnight for at least seven days.

“We need to remain vigilant but calm. That means to continue social distancing,” Ball said at the news conference.

Columbia Association announced at 4 p.m. on its website that all of its facilities are closing at 6 p.m. Sunday through March 29.

This includes all sport and fitness facilities (fitness clubs, Haven on the Lake, pools, tennis, ice skating, golf, Columbia SportsPark, etc.); all Community Services facilities, including Columbia Art Center, Youth and Teen Center, and Columbia Archives; and Columbia DogPark, CA Headquarters and the Customer and Member Service Center.

Additionally, all CA public programs, classes and events are canceled effective immediately through March 29. A decision whether to extend these closures and cancellations beyond March 29 will be made as additional information becomes available, Columbia Association said.

County Council members were told about the first confirmed case shortly after 2 p.m. but were told not to attend the news conference to comply with state and national advice to control social distancing.

“We have been preparing for this to happen and are following recommendations of the Health Department on how to further slow community spread,” Ball said in a prepared statement. “Over the past week the State and County have taken significant proactive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging social distancing, the cancellation of events, meetings and gatherings, the closing of schools, libraries, and our community college."

We will continue to work as a united and unified Howard County government along with our stakeholder partners to ensure that all our residents remain safe, calm and informed.”

The Maryland Health Department reported on Sunday at 10 a.m. that there are now 31 confirmed cases of coronavirus statewide, which is up five from Saturday. Mike Ricci, the governor’s spokesman, noted in the late afternoon on Twitter that the Howard case is not one of the 31.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement