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Four more cases of new coronavirus confirmed in Maryland, including first in Baltimore County

Anne Arundel Executive Steuart Pittman held a press conference to discuss COVID-19 Coronavirus

Gov. Larry Hogan announced four more cases of the new coronavirus in Maryland on Wednesday, in addition to the nine already confirmed.

Three new cases reported Wednesday night included a Baltimore County resident in his 60s who worked at the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C., a Montgomery County resident in his 20s who recently traveled to Spain, and a Prince George’s County resident in his 60s whose travel history is under investigation.

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Only the Prince George’s resident is currently hospitalized.

Earlier in the day, officials said a part-time resident of Anne Arundel County in her 70s tested positive for coronavirus. The woman lives part-time in Montana and the case will be assigned to that state.

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The total counted in Maryland is now 12. Health officials report they have tested 94 people for COVID-19, which the World Health Orgranization deemed a pandemic Wednesday, but more cases are expected as the testing ramps up.

“Marylanders should be taking this pandemic very seriously,” Hogan said in a statement.

“All Marylanders need to understand that there may be significant disruption to your everyday lives for a period of time," he said. "We will continue tracking this and will be receiving and providing Marylanders with almost constant, up-to-the-minute information. I want to continue to assure Marylanders that our state is taking every precaution when it comes to the coronavirus, because our highest priority is keeping our residents safe.”

Hogan said he will remain in Annapolis on Thursday to manage the outbreak response, postponing his previously scheduled National Governors Association State of the States address.

On Monday, Towson University asked nine students and one staff member who attended the AIPAC conference to self-quarantine at home because of concerns after the coronavirus was diagnosed in other attendees. The university also asked them to stay away from campus for two weeks from their last date of attendance at the conference that was held March 1-3.

Baltimore County County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. plans to hold a news conference Thursday about the county case.

Olszewski said Wednesday that the person had limited contacts before being notified of the positive test.

“We have been preparing for this situation and we are ready to respond to any potential impact of the COVID-19 virus in our communities,” he said in a statement. “We continue to work with our partners across county government and at the state level to monitor this rapidly evolving situation.”

No other information was released about the three newest cases Wednesday.

The Anne Arundel woman, who is in her 70s, had been notified that she had been in close contact with someone who had a confirmed case of the coronavirus. So she went to an Anne Arundel County hospital.

Anne Arundel County and state health officials will investigate her travels and contacts here, according to a statement Hogan released Wednesday afternoon.

The woman, who is believed to have had very limited contact with others since arriving in Anne Arundel County approximately one week ago, is in fair condition, county Health Officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman said.

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At a news conference Wednesday, Hogan said the woman was visiting in a different state and stopped in Maryland to visit a family member when she started to feel ill.

The woman is hospitalized and being treated in isolation, according to Anne Arundel officials.

In another sign of the spread of the virus, Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn will be closed for three school days as a community member awaits results from a coronavirus test, school officials said in an email Wednesday.

The school will be closed through Monday pending the test results. If the results are positive, the school will take the next steps with the county health department, according to the email.

The school is prepared to conduct classes remotely, administrators wrote. The school also canceled all out-of-state and international school trips indefinitely in alignment with Anne Arundel County Public Schools and other school districts in the state.

Health officials have encouraged people to take steps such as regularly washing hands, not touching one’s face and staying home when sick. Seniors have been advised to avoid large gatherings.

“We should remember that the work that we do and the inconveniences that we do endure are not for ourselves but for our neighbors," Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman said at a news conference Wednesday in Glen Burnie. “We are all in this together.”

Montana Gov. Steve Bullock wrote on Twitter that health officials “are working closely with Maryland to confirm case details on when this individual was last in Montana.”

After the announcement of Anne Arundel County’s first instance of COVID-19, Pittman canceled a previously scheduled event. He expects the cancellation of more county events but is leaving the decision on large private events up to organizers.

County schools Superintendent George Arlotto said his staff is prepared with two weeks of virtual lessons and delivery of free meals to students in need if remote learning becomes necessary.

“We have plans in place that include Google classroom and online instruction with lessons on TV for those who do not have access to the internet,” Arlotto said.

Earlier this week, Arlotto suspended all out-of-state and international travel for all students and staff, and he said he is still considering larger nonessential public events.

In his afternoon news conference, Hogan said a volunteer first responder in Montgomery County also tested positive for the coronavirus. The governor said the individual is a resident of Prince William County in Virginia and that his positive test is tied to one of the senior leaders at a prominent Episcopal church in Washington, D.C., who is being treated for the virus.

Hogan also provided an update on the 12 Marylanders on board the Grand Princess cruise ship and said they are being transported to military bases in Texas and Florida to undergo examinations.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services was lobbying for the residents to return to Maryland, but Hogan said he denied its request and asked for the 12 passengers to be tested for COVID-19 before being transported back to the state.

“This situation is escalating rapidly,” Hogan said. “Information is changing not only on a daily basis but on an hourly, almost minute-by-minute basis.”

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After discussions with cabinet members Tuesday, Hogan announced several changes to agencies across the state.

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The Motor Vehicle Administration is moving to an appointment-based system to help eliminate foot traffic and keep crowds to a minimum, Hogan said. The governor also said the Department of Public Safety and Corrections is limiting visits for those in the infirmary, reducing movement and providing more video opportunities as an alternative to in-person visits.

Nursing homes and veteran facilities across the state also will move to restricted access, Hogan said, allowing only “essential visits.” He is urging facilities to screen all visitors.

Hogan said the state’s Health Benefits Exchange, its Obamacare insurance market, is beginning a special enrollment period, specifically for the coronavirus. He said this helps fill a void to give residents “peace of mind” because the federal marketplace is not providing anything.

As of Wednesday night, 125,865 people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus and 4,615 have died. In the United States, there have been 1,281 positive tests and 37 deaths.

Hogan previously declared a state of emergency and asked lawmakers to add $10 million into the state budget for coronavirus response. Hogan also sponsored legislation allowing him to use up to $50 million from the state’s rainy day fund to use for coronavirus response. Lawmakers swiftly passed that bill and Hogan signed it into law Monday.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it would give Maryland almost $10.3 million for coronavirus preparedness and response. The CDC said it’s initial funding allocated from the $8.2 billion recently passed by Congress.

Most major Maryland colleges and universities have canceled classes and made plans for online classes after next week’s spring break. Many schools and businesses have canceled or limited travel plans.

Baltimore Sun reporter McKenna Oxenden and Capital Gazette reporter Selene San Felice contributed to this article.

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