With more than two dozen deaths announced Monday, Maryland recorded its most lethal day yet from the coronavirus pandemic, and the number of confirmed cases across the state surged past 4,000.
Carroll County officials reported four more deaths Monday evening from the outbreak at Pleasant View Nursing Home in Mount Airy, pushing the death toll at that facility alone to 14.
That news came after Maryland officials announced Monday morning that 24 people had died in the state since the day before.
“It’s an extremely sad day for all of us,” state Sen. Justin Ready, a Republican who is chairman of Carroll County’s Senate delegation. “It’s one of the biggest nursing home outbreaks the country. We’re still trying to figure out what happened. It illustrates how deadly this disease can be.”
On a national radio interview Monday, Gov. Larry Hogan urged Marylanders to continue to comply with his stay-at-home order to slow the spread of the virus, even as many have lost their jobs due to his directives that closed nonessential businesses in the state.
“There’s no question people are going through a lot of pain and suffering,” Hogan told Fox News Radio. “We’re asking people to sacrifice quite a bit. It’s a sacrifice to save their fellow human beings. Hopefully, we’ll beat this virus and help get those people back on their feet.”
Hogan, a Republican, said it’s becoming clear that the greater Washington, D.C., area is likely to be the next “hotspot” for confirmed cases and deaths from the coronavirus. The region has had more than 8,000 cases, quadrupling its total in the past week, he said.
In further actions to try to crack down on the virus’ spread, Hogan issued an executive order that authorizes local health departments to shut down businesses and organizations that local officials deem “unsafe facilities.”
The order, signed Sunday, gives explicit authority to health officials to shut down such businesses if they are not complying with the governor’s previous orders to protect the “public health, welfare, and safety" and prevent the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Noting they’ve received few supplies coming from a federal stockpile, Maryland officials also said they’ve been rushing to purchase masks, protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies off the private market.
Ellington Churchill, secretary of Maryland’s Department of General Services, said in an interview the state has spent more than $200 million on emergency equipment purchases since Hogan declared a state of emergency March 5. He said state officials have signed more than 200 contracts.
“Just about everything is coming out of the private market,” Churchill said.
He said Maryland is grateful for any supplies it can get from the federal government.
“But we know that if it’s going to happen, we’re going to have to do it ourselves. We have to make strategic purchases of critical materials,” he said.
Speaking on CNN’s “Out Front with Erin Burnett” on Monday night, Hogan said he was pleased that federal officials had recognized earlier in the day that the Washington region will be a “hotspot” for the virus.
Burnett, the host, played a clip of Republican President Donald Trump claiming that the nation’s governors are “very happy, every one of them.” She asked Hogan if that statement was accurate.
“To say that we’re completely happy would be an overexaggeration … Everybody’s got issues,” said Hogan, nothing that the president wasn’t on the latest conference call with U.S. governors had on the virus.
The increasing death toll in Maryland comes as local and state lawmakers pushed for public tracking and disclosure of how the virus was spreading among the state’s racial groups.
Baltimore City Council President Brandon Scott, a Democrat, introduced a bill Monday night requiring the city health commissioner report patients’ races and ZIP codes during a health emergency.
Scott joined dozens of Democratic members of the Maryland House of Delegates in pushing for the information. Eighty state lawmakers have signed a letter urging the state health department to release data on coronavirus cases broken down by race.
For more than a week, Baltimore Democrat Del. Nick Mosby has been leading that charge. He says early access to racial data could help the spot disparities early in the crisis.
“This significant data gap compromises the ability to effectively communicate the true risk this virus poses to our constituents and eliminates the ability to effectively engage and direct lifesaving resources,” Mosby wrote in an earlier letter to Hogan.
A spokesman for Hogan, Mike Ricci, has said the state is seeking information about the races of patients from testing sites.
Other states have already published preliminary data on the races of coronavirus patients, which showed black people were disproportionately affected.
Both District of Columbia and city of Chicago officials released a breakdown by race Monday. In Chicago, about 70% of people who have died from COVID-19 are black. Roughly 30% of Chicago residents are black.
Prince George’s County, also more than 60% black, has so far seen the largest number of coronavirus-related deaths in Maryland.
As state officials rush to obtain more supplies, several entities said they were pushing for more widespread use of masks.
Both the University of Maryland Medical System and LifeBridge Health now require all staff, patients and visitors to their hospitals to wear a mask at all times, the health networks announced Monday. And, following advice from the U.S. Department of Defense amid a nationwide shortage of protective face masks, the Maryland National Guard advised its members to begin making their own cloth masks.
“While not an ideal solution, the CDC has indicated that even homemade masks have some protective value," confirmed Lt. Col. Wayde Minami, a guard spokesman, in a statement to The Baltimore Sun.
Maryland state and health officials continue to brace for what is believed will be a bad two weeks. Some computer models that show how the pandemic may unfold, including one from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, saying a peak in hospital use in Maryland could come in late April. That would be just after a projected national peak in mid-April.
Baltimore Sun reporters Kevin Rector, Lillian Reed and Talia Richman contributed to this article.