A Prince George’s County man in his 60s became Maryland’s first resident to die of the novel coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan announced in a tweet Wednesday night.
Officials said the man died from the COVID-19 illness acquired through community transmission and said he suffered from underlying health problems.
“I ask all Marylanders to join me in praying for his family and loved ones during this difficult time,” Hogan said. “As we pray for his loved ones, I ask that we continue to pray for each other, for our state, and for our nation as we face this crisis together.”
This is the first death out of 85 confirmed coronavirus cases across the state.
The coronavirus swept through the nation and landed in Maryland on March 5 when the first three positive cases were confirmed. Since then, more than 215,000 people have been diagnosed worldwide and 9,000 have died. Meanwhile, in the United States more than 7,700 have tested positive and 119 died, including the Prince George’s County man.
Hogan said he will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. Thursday in Annapolis to “provide further updates and announce additional actions.”
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Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she was “heartbroken” one of her residents lost his life to the coronavirus.
“This pandemic represents an unprecedented crisis for Prince George’s County,” Alsobrooks said in a tweet. “Your County is confronting this head on and working around the clock to protect the well-being of our residents.”
During a news conference on Monday, Hogan said that “we have never faced anything like this before.”
“We should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise,” he said. “This is going to be much harder, take much longer and be much worse than almost anyone is currently understanding."
Over the past several weeks, Hogan took unprecedented action by closing all public schools across the state and shutting down bars, restaurants, movie theaters and gyms in Maryland. The state’s casinos, racetracks and off-track betting parlors also have been shut down to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
With Maryland under a state of emergency, Hogan has prohibited large gatherings and events of more than 50 people, in line with recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Republican governor also launched plans to add as many as 6,000 more hospital beds so current facilities don’t become overloaded. Maryland has about 8,000 acute care hospital beds, said Fran Phillips, the state’s deputy secretary for public health services.