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Maryland Gov. Hogan on the coronavirus: ‘In two weeks around Easter, we are going to be looking more like New York’

Maryland likely will continue to see a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases through Easter, Gov. Larry Hogan said Sunday morning, indicating that residents can expect social distancing measures to remain in place through next month.

The state health department announced five new deaths Sunday afternoon, bringing Maryland’s total to 15, including the first in Howard County. The number of confirmed cases also continued to mount as the state reported 247 more Sunday, bringing Maryland’s tally to 1,239. And late Sunday, the first case of Baltimore City schools employee was announced.

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“In two weeks, around Easter, we are going to be looking more like New York,” Hogan said in an interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace. “It’s continuing to grow at really frightening paces, and we think it’s going to be worse in two weeks, not better.”

Last week, President Donald Trump said he would like to “have the country opened up” by Easter, which is April 12, but Sunday afternoon, Trump called that goal aspirational.

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The initial 15-day period of social distancing urged by the federal government had been set to expire Monday, and Trump had expressed interest in relaxing the national guidelines in parts of the country less afflicted by the pandemic to give the economy a boost.

But Sunday he instead said he decided to extend them through April 30. Many states, including Maryland, have stiffer controls in place on mobility and gatherings.

Governors like Hogan and medical professionals have indicated that Maryland and other states would see increases in case numbers over the next two weeks, and that distancing measures would need to continue.

“I think the virus is going to dictate the time frame," Hogan said. "We’re going to follow advice of the scientists and doctors. We don’t see any way we are going to be opening in a couple of weeks.”

Asked about Trump’s contradictory comments before Sunday, Hogan said "the messaging isn’t helpful” as he and other governors are encouraging people to stay home.

“I think the president is just trying to be hopeful, which is good," Hogan said. “We don’t want people to be scared, but we want them to take it seriously.”

Nonessential businesses and schools in Maryland remain closed, and state officials urge residents to stay home as cases continue to rise.

Nonessential businesses and schools in Maryland remain closed, and state officials urge residents to stay home as cases and deaths continue to rise.

After reporting a 25% increase in cases Sunday morning, the Maryland Department of Health announced the five new deaths late Sunday afternoon. They include a Carroll County man in his 90s; a Howard County man in his 70s; a Prince George’s County man in his 30s; a Prince George’s County woman in her 50s; and a Prince George’s County man in his 70s. All five had underlying health conditions.

Howard County reported it had two deaths Sunday afternoon, including a man in his 90s in addition to the man in his 70s. It’s unclear why its number conflicted with the state’s and neither state nor local officials offered an explanation.

The dead Carroll County man was a resident of the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, where a coronavirus outbreak is ravaging residents. Hogan announced Saturday night that 66 residents of the Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy had been infected with the disease. As of Sunday, 17 had been hospitalized and one died.

As a result of the outbreak, Carroll County experienced the state’s largest spike in cases, jumping from 10 Saturday to 82 Sunday morning.

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Montgomery and Prince George’s counties continued to lead the state in confirmed cases. Montgomery County has 46 new cases, bringing its total to 301, while Prince George’s has 51 new cases, bringing that D.C. suburb’s total up to 247, according to the Maryland Department of Health.

The two counties account for a little less than half of all coronavirus cases in the state. They were followed by Baltimore County with 169 and Baltimore city with 129

Late Sunday, Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. “Jack” Young announced that a city schools employee had tested positive for COVID-19. He said the employee has not been at school since the school year was suspended on March 16 and has not been distributing learning packets or emergency meals. The school system is cleaning and sanitizing school buildings, following recommended guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, he said.

The state health department’s online dashboard reported that 39 people with confirmed cases have been released from isolation and that 12,534 tests for the disease have come back negative.

Dr. Thomas Inglesby, director of the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, also was interviewed on the Fox News Sunday program and asked when social distancing measures should be eased.

“If we go back to work too quickly, this epidemic is going to spread widely and aggressively, and we won’t have a normal economy in that case anyway," Inglesby said.

He said a decision to lift measures should be made after evaluating several conditions, such as once a state or region sees numbers on the decline. He said testing, supplies such as adequate masks for medical staff, hospital preparation for an influx of patients, and the ability to trace contacts of confirmed cases should all be considered before measures are lifted.

Baltimore Sun reporter Phil Davis and Baltimore Sun Media reporter Jess Nocera contributed to this article.

Maryland cases by the numbers

Confirmed cases: 1,239 (female: 634, male: 605)

Negative test results: 12,354

Deaths: 10

Hospitalizations: 277 (to date)

Released from isolation: 39

Source: Maryland Health Department (as of Sunday morning)

Confirmed cases in Baltimore City and Central Maryland counties

Baltimore County: 162

Baltimore City: 129

Anne Arundel: 99

Carroll: 82

Howard: 81

Harford: 23

Source: Maryland Health Department (as of Sunday morning)

Age range of confirmed cases in Maryland

0-9: 4

10-19: 21

20-29: 165

30-39: 203

40-49: 241

50-59: 243

60-69: 191

70-79: 117

80+: 54

Source: Maryland Health Department (as of Sunday morning)

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