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Our View: Will nursing home tragedy, criminal summons convince everyone to follow stay-at-home order?

Monday brought the news that a second resident at a Mount Airy nursing home that suffered a coronavirus outbreak has died. And that Gov. Larry Hogan issued a stay-at-home order, meaning Marylanders may only leave their homes for essential work or urgent medical care, to get food or prescriptions or for other “absolutely necessary” reasons. And that a Lutherville man is facing criminal charges for allegedly hosting a party in Carroll County that included himself, 10 teenagers and alcohol.

The tragedy unfolding at Mount Airy’s Pleasant View Nursing Home just continues to get worse as a man in his 80s became the second death of a resident at the facility and an additional 11 positive COVID-19 test results were announced, bringing the total number of confirmed cases at the facility to 77, according to the Carroll County Health Department. Sixteen patients have been hospitalized.

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One would think reports of escalating numbers of coronavirus cases, and deaths, from all around the nation would’ve been enough for Marylanders to heed Gov. Larry Hogan’s previous orders restricting gatherings, but that hasn’t necessarily been the case.

“We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so," Hogan said during a Monday morning news conference. The governor said he is worried about the possibility the disease could spread to “literally thousands” of facilities in Maryland, including hospitals, detention centers and nursing homes such as Pleasant View.

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One would think reports over the weekend about the nursing home outbreak would’ve been enough for Carroll countians to recognize the crisis has, indeed, hit home, and that, again, the governor’s orders should be heeded.

Yet 10 teens got together at Boston Inn on Sunday, allegedly at the behest of a 26-year-old Lutherville man. Ryan M. Serra was charged by Maryland State Police with violating the governor’s executive order and 10 counts of allowing a minor to possess alcohol. Serra was charged on a criminal summons, which was served on him by state police at his home just before 2 p.m, according to an MSP release. The youths weren’t charged, but should’ve known better.

Obviously, a teen alcohol party at a hotel is illegal as well as a terrible idea. But right now, when get-togethers like this are prime ways for the coronavirus to be spread, this party wasn’t just a terrible idea, but potentially a deadly one depending on if anyone compromised was to contract the coronavirus or if someone who caught it were to pass it on to someone who is compromised or elderly.

The newest order, like previous ones, doesn’t make anyone a prisoner in their own home. As Hogan said: “People have to go out and get food. They need to get prescriptions. You should be able to get outside for your own physical and mental well-being and go for a walk and take your dog for a walk.”

But he urged everyone to exercise “common sense” and tried to get through to anyone who heretofore hadn’t been paying serious attention by making it clear the stay-at-home directive will be enforced. Any person who knowingly and willfully violates it is guilty of a misdemeanor and could face a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. That’s what Serra is facing should he be convicted.

Also at the news conference, Fran Phillips, Maryland’s deputy health secretary, warned that young people should not think of themselves as being immune. More than half of all positive cases in Maryland involve people age 50 and younger and while most of them will be able to stay at home and recover, some won’t. And others will be carriers. The virus spreads easily and it takes days for symptoms to appear.

“What you do today, what you do tomorrow, matters," she said.

Which is why, unless it is “absolutely necessary,” everyone needs to stay home. Today, tomorrow and until this crisis is over.

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