Howard cancels out-of-state travel for county employees and budget hearing in response to coronavirus outbreak

Howard County this week announced the suspension of all out-of-state travel for county employees until at least mid-April due to the spread of the new coronavirus. Then on Wednesday, County Executive Calvin Ball canceled a residents’ budget hearing which was originally planned for Thursday.

The changes are the latest in the county’s and state’s response to coronavirus, or COVID-19, which the World Health Organization deemed a pandemic Wednesday.


Howard County employees have been told out-of-state travel is canceled for a 45-day period. The suspension will be reassessed at the end of the period or before then if new developments arise, according to a county news release.

“I urge our community and residents to follow health department guidelines on unnecessary travel, social distancing, mitigation efforts and general personal hygiene to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” County Executive Calvin Ball said in a statement.


The fiscal 2021 budget hearing for residents, which had been scheduled for Thursday evening, will not be rescheduled. However, residents can submit testimony about the upcoming operating and capital budgets online.

“We are canceling the budget hearing out of an abundance of caution given [the] recent progression of COVID-19. We want to first and foremost ensure the safety of our community and vulnerable populations,” Ball said Wednesday. “We still want to hear from all our residents and encourage everyone to provide online testimony.”

Howard County has not announced the cancellation of any other public events or meetings.

On Tuesday, Howard County schools Superintendent Michael Martirano canceled all out-of-state field trips and athletic events through the end of the school year. All official out-of-state travel for school system employees has also been canceled. And Howard Community College canceled classes for Thursday and Friday to allow for faculty to prepare for potential remote instruction as coronavirus continues to spread in the state.

More than 121,000 people worldwide have been infected with the coronavirus so far and more than 4,300 people have died.

As of Wednesday, there are nine confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland, state officials confirmed. The cases so far are in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Harford counties.

Baltimore Sun Media reporter Jess Nocera contributed to this story.