54 new cases of coronavirus in Maryland, raising state’s total to at least 244 Sunday

Another 54 cases of coronavirus were reported in Maryland on Sunday, bringing the state’s total to at least 244. Three people have died.

Baltimore City cases jumped from 15 to 24 from Saturday to Sunday. Increases elsewhere include 18 cases in Anne Arundel, up from 15; Baltimore County has 28 cases, up from 19; Charles County went from 4 to 5; Howard County has 24, up from 19; Montgomery County went from 68 to 83; Prince George’s County now has 40, up from 36.


Other places reported case totals of five in Harford County, four in Carroll County and two each in Calvert, Wicomico and Worcester counties. One case has been reported in each of the following counties: Caroline, Cecil, Frederick, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Washington and Queen Anne’s.

That brings confirmed cases to at least 20 of Maryland’s 24 jurisdictions.

The official counts come from the governor’s office, although counties are tracking cases individually, so there may be slight discrepancies in the numbers.

Also Sunday, the University of Maryland announced a fourth confirmed case of COVID-19 affiliated with the the school. The person is a staff member in the College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences, the university said.

Over the past two weeks, the individual was only known to be on campus March 12 and the university said its notified any individuals that may have had direct contact.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday, in an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press," the state is continuing to monitor risk potential and implement measures to limit people’s ability to congregate in groups larger than 10 people. The Republican governor said, for instance, a group of people who went to Florida for spring break were told to self-quarantine for 14 days upon returning to Maryland.

Hogan said he continues to be concerned about people heeding warnings not to gather in groups. He pointed to pictures of people congregating in parks in Virginia and Washington to look at blooming cherry blossoms.

Worldwide, more than 300,000 cases have been reported, including 13,000 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins University.


The total number of cases across the region has reached about 500, including 98 in Washington and 156 in Virginia.

In Maryland, most of the cases involve people ages 18 to 64, according to state officials. On Sunday, 200 cases were in that range ages. Forty-one cases involved people age 65 and older. Three cases were reported for people 18 and younger.

The latest death, reported late Saturday, was a Montgomery County woman in her 40s. She reportedly had underlying health conditions.

Previously, the state reported two men, both in their 60s with underlying health conditions, had succumbed to the virus. The state’s first death was reported Wednesday in Prince George’s County and the second in Baltimore County on Friday.

The virus is most deadly for seniors and people with compromised immune systems.

On the Sunday talk show, Hogan was asked about whether the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal agencies should be in charge of purchasing and distributing medical resources, such as face masks. President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act to invoke private companies to focus on producing critical items, but it is unclear as to how long it will take for resources to reach healthcare workers.


Hogan said that while the state has been working with the federal government and other governors, he said, “FEMA has to take the lead." More resources, he said, are overdue. Hogan, along with other governors, has been pushing the federal government to take a more prominent lead in securing medical supplies.

“It’s not nearly enough," Hogan said. "It’s not fast enough. We’re way behind the curve.”

Maryland, meanwhile, is continuing to purchase resources as they are available on the open market, the governor said, adding, “It’s not a perfect situation."

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat who appeared on “Meet the Press” alongside the Maryland governor, took issue with Hogan’s characterization of a cooperative federal government. At one point, de Blasio interrupted host Chuck Todd to say, “Our military is being sidelined and the White House is in denial.”

Hogan said the federal government has been aiding the state.

“We got military all over our state doing great things," Hogan said, "helping with hospitals and building new hospital beds.

“Your governor of New York is doing the same thing, so maybe you ought to try to talk with him."

Shot back de Blasio, “Not everyone is doing everything that they could think of. Let’s be honest about it.”

Like other New York and other states, Hogan has declared a state of emergency in Maryland, triggering response by the National Guard. Among the more than 2,000 Guard members on duty in Maryland, some have been seen in Baltimore and elsewhere. They are helping to distribute meals supporting hospitals, in addition to a variety of statewide tasks.

Whether all of the closures, social distancing measures and other precautions are having an impact in Maryland is still unclear.

“The short answer is, it is too early to tell. And, if they are, it will be difficult to know,” said Dr. Jason Farley, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Schools of Nursing and Medicine and an infectious disease-trained nurse epidemiologist.

The key to understanding the scope of the virus in Maryland — and elsewhere — lies in the ability to test the public. Testing is only now beginning to become somewhat more widely available, and some hospitals have opened screening clinics.

“The true extent of the outbreak is still not well known,” Farley said.

Farley said if someone in Maryland is experiencing a slight elevation in temperature and a slight cough, but otherwise feels OK, they should self-quarantine at home. They can also reach out to their primary care provider for a session over the phone or online to get specific advice.

According to the state Department of Health, Maryland is working to increase testing availability. Testing will be expanded as soon as the state has more supplies, including through the use of more drive-through testing sites.

“Testing is appropriate for those who are at the highest risk for developing the severe COVID-19 disease,” the health department said in a statement Sunday. “Not everyone needs a test, but everyone can adapt recommended practices such as good hand-washing and social distancing to reduce their risk of exposure.”

Farley said the test being used to diagnosis the new coronavirus can diagnosis multiple other viruses at the same time, including two types of influenzia and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV. The test involves a swab that is inserted about three inches into the back of a person’s nose, to the place where the nose reaches the very top of the throat.