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Maryland’s coronavirus case total rises to 26 as Hogan orders expanded child care access

Maryland confirmed seven more cases Saturday of the new coronavirus, as Baltimore reported that for the first time a city resident has tested positive.

State officials said Maryland’s total has risen to 26. However, it was not clear whether the city case, announced late Saturday, was one of those.

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Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young said in an evening announcement that the city patient is a man in his 60s. Few details were provided on the case; Young said the city health department is investigating.

On Friday, Johns Hopkins Hospital disclosed that one its providers tested positive for the respiratory illness. It also wasn’t clear whether that case was the same one announced by the mayor on Saturday.

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To assure continuity to the state’s response to the growing pandemic, Gov. Larry Hogan issued an emergency order Saturday to expand access to child care for critical personnel during the state of emergency. The order aims to ensure that childcare is available for health care providers, emergency medical workers and law enforcement personnel while schools are closed.

Baltimore area businesses and other venues show the effects of public reaction to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hogan administration officials did not provide details of the new cases or disclose where the patients live as they have in the past. The state also stopped announcing how many people have been tested for the virus. Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said the governor’s office is re-examining “how best to report cases” in light of their increasing number.

Harford County Executive Barry Glassman confirmed Saturday that one new case has been reported there. The patient is a 69-year-old who is related to the county’s first reported case, an 86-year-old woman, he said. The 69-year-old remains isolated at home and is “asymptomatic."

Late Friday night, Johns Hopkins Hospital officials confirmed a “provider” there has tested positive for the COVID-19 infection. A spokeswoman would not identify the provider, the provider’s gender or position, or where they work at the medical institution. The term “provider” usually refers to a person who provides medical care or counseling services at a hospital or clinic.

“The provider is currently at home recovering,” spokeswoman Kim Hoppe said. “Out of an abundance of caution and per our institutional policies and discussion with state authorities, all patients, clinicians and staff who may have been in contact with the provider have been identified and instructed to self-quarantine as directed."

It wasn’t clear where the provider lives.

On Saturday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams asked hospitals to consider stopping elective procedures. On Twitter, he said such procedures could expose facilities to the virus, overtax medical staff who are needed to respond to the pandemic, and use up reserves of personal protective equipment needed for health care workers.

A spokeswoman for MedStar Health hospitals in Baltimore said they were canceling elective procedures. Officials with the Greater Baltimore Medical Center and the University of Maryland Medical System said they were reviewing the issue.

Hoppe, the Hopkins spokeswoman, said the hospital is “carefully evaluating our upcoming elective cases and will contact patients directly when there is a change to their scheduled procedure.”

In another development this weekend, the Village at Rockville said the community had completed the symptom screenings required by the Maryland Department of Health after a Montgomery County resident who tested positive attended an event there Feb. 28.

A Hopkins study published Monday found that 97.5% of people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 do so within 11.5 days after exposure. The study was based on nearly 200 cases from China and other countries where exposure dates and development of symptoms were known.

All over, the daily routines of life continued to be upended, with activities and events of all kinds canceled. People around the region lined up outside supermarkets and other stores to stock up, often finding bare shelves once inside.

Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori on Saturday canceled all public Roman Catholic Masses as cases of cornavirus continue to rise in Maryland. The cancellation is in effect “until further notice," the archbishop said. In his announcement, Lori said he made the decision after receiving an update from state officials, as well as advice from medical professionals.

“My highest priority is the safety and welfare of the people of God of this Archdiocese,” he said in a statement. “I take this step with great sadness, but also with wholehearted determination that we continue to provide for the spiritual well-being of the faithful at a time when their faith is most needed.”

Lori is scheduled to celebrate a private Mass at the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen at 11 a.m. Sunday. It will be livestreamed at www.archbalt.org.

And starting Monday, all public schools in the state will be closed for two weeks.

Ricci said the child care order announced Saturday means day care centers can remain open as long as they follow the latest guidelines, which include a stronger emphasis on hand washing and having no more than 10 children in a group.

“Our state has taken major and unprecedented actions to protect the health, the safety, and the welfare of the people of Maryland,” said Hogan, a Republican, in a statement. “As we continue to operate under a state of emergency, we are committed to doing everything in our power to maintain our essential services, including child care, especially for those who are on the front lines helping us combat this public health threat.”

Meanwhile, details about the other six new cases announced Saturday by the state remained unknown.

Baltimore County officials are not aware of any new coronavirus cases there, a spokesman for County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said. Health department officials from Anne Arundel, Carroll and Howard counties also said they’re unaware of any new cases in their area. So did those from Cecil, St. Mary’s, Kent, Garrett and Talbot counties.

The latest confirmed cases were announced after the U.S. House of Representatives approved legislation early Saturday designed to provide relief amid the global pandemic. President Donald Trump also declared the outbreak a national emergency Friday, freeing up money and resources to fight it, and threw his support behind the congressional aid package.

The Associated Press and Baltimore Sun reporters Talia Richman and Pamela Wood contributed to this story.

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