Gov. Larry Hogan announced on Thursday that Maryland will adhere to federal guidelines aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus and prohibit events that draw more than 10 people, Bryan Renbaum writes for MarylandReporter.com.
- Despite his repeated pleas for people to stay home, Hogan said some continue to gather in large groups, reports Holden Wilen for the Baltimore Business Journal. He warned them that by doing so they are in violation of state law.
- Frederick County executive Jan Gardner echoed that sentiment, reports Steve Bohnel for the Frederick News-Post. “We need people to stay home, and staying home is a civic duty,” she said.
- Hogan, who is chairman of the National Governors’ Association, said he and the nation’s governors are asking the federal government today to dedicate half the “Phase Three Supplemental” coronavirus aid directly to the states, Tamela Baker reports in the Hagerstown Herald-Mail.
- A 5-year-old girl in Howard County became the first Maryland child to test positive for the new coronavirus, Hogan said as he announced the measures. The girl is a student at Elkridge Elementary School, Jeff Barker and Nathan Ruiz report in the Sun.
- Baltimore City Council will cancel its meetings until at least April in response to the new coronavirus outbreak, reports Emily Opilo for the Sun.
Despite a prior executive order that closed Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course and Rosecroft Raceway, horse racing will go on as planned this weekend. An industry representative told Baltimore Fishbowl that running races without crowds complies with the governor’s order because the races are an extension of training activities — which are permitted, Brandon Weigel reports.
- In an analysis, the Post reports top political leaders in the greater Washington area have tackled the novel coronavirus crisis with markedly different styles. “And no one has seized the moment more aggressively than Hogan,” report Gregory Schneider, Erin Cox and Fenit Nirappil.
- The Sun answers the question if suspending normal social norms, with “sweeping intrusive impacts,” is even legal. The answer, according to legal experts, is yes — largely because of the state of emergency declared by Hogan March 5, Kevin Rector writes.
CLOSING THE MALLS: All shopping malls and entertainment venues in Maryland were closed effective 5 p.m. Thursday, Teresa McMinn reports for the Cumberland Times-News.
- Shutting the malls became increasingly inevitable as at least three in the state — including the sprawling Arundel Mills — had previously closed, as had many anchor and specialty stores across the country, reports Jean Marbella for the Sun.
- The TownMall of Westminster is among those that closed, and it is not clear when it might reopen — or how many tenants will reopen with it, Jon Kelvey reports in the Carroll County Times.
- The order includes Baltimore’s public markets, reports Baltimore Fishbowl. Lexington Market and the Baltimore Public markets — including the Avenue, Broadway, Hollins and Northeast markets — have closed, according to the nonprofit Baltimore Public Markets Corp., which operates them.
- OPINION: “Given what’s going on in the world, you’ll get no argument from us, but that doesn’t make the impact of closing malls any less unfortunate,” opines the editorial board of the Frederick News-Post. The paper recently reported that Francis Scott Key Mall was going to be near full capacity after the announcement of several new tenants.
GENERAL ASSEMBLY WRAP UPS: In a roundup of major bills, Bryan Renbaum for MarylandReporter.com writes that the Maryland General Assembly passed more than 660 bills during the 2020 legislative session — which the global outbreak of the coronavirus cut short.
- The Maryland General Assembly passed legislation in the waning hours of its virus-abbreviated 2020 session to enable alleged victims of sexual assault to seek protective orders against any individual who allegedly attacked them in the previous six months, reports Steve Lash writes in The Daily Record. He also reports on hate crime changes and race discrimination specifically because of hair or hair style.
- During those last days of the session, the public was barred from the State House and lobbyists and advocates were locked out, too. Audio and visual streams of the proceedings spotty and unreliable resulting in frustration for those left out, Luke Broadwater writes in the Sun.
- Now, legislative leaders plan to convene a 24-member COVID-19 Response Legislative Workgroup, to monitor the state’s public health crisis response and serve as a liaison between constituents and the Hogan administration, Josh Kurtz reports for Maryland Matters.
HELPING THE ECONOMY: Maryland’s U.S. senators said Thursday federal government must move urgently to help small businesses survive the sharp downturn in economic activity caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, Bruce DePuyt reports for Maryland Matters.
- Small businesses suffering due to the novel coronavirus pandemic will soon be able to apply for disaster loan assistance through a new partnership of Anne Arundel’s Economic Development Corporation and the state of Maryland with the Small Business Administration, Olivia Sanchez reports in the Capital Gazette.
- To help thousands of small businesses that have been forced to shut down due to the coronavirus, state Comptroller Peter Franchot is suggesting the state withdraw $500 million from its rainy day fund, reports John Rydell reports for WBFF.
- The Maryland Division of Unemployment Insurance is extending its call center hours amid the coronavirus outbreak, according to WBAL-TV.
DEL. CAIN STEPS DOWN: A freshman delegate has resigned from the House of Delegates after completing the abbreviated 2020 General Assembly session, reports Bryan Sears writes in The Daily Record on the resignation of Del. Alice Cain (D-Anne Arundel).
- Cain cited unforeseen family circumstances as the reason for her resignation, Olivia Sanchez reports for the Capital Gazette.
ELECTIONS PLANNING: Several groups advocating for election rights have delivered a letter to Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan urging him to offer widespread voting by mail in the June primary and to establish a voting rights task force, Emily Opilo reports for the Sun.
LEAVING MAYORAL RACE: The coronavirus has disrupted more than just daily life, it’s also impacting political races, Tom Hall and Cianna Greaves report for WYPR. State Sen. Mary Washington (D-Baltimore) talks about her decision to drop out of the Baltimore mayor’s race.
CONTRACTOR GROUPS WORKING TO KEEP DEFENSE OPERATING: The Department of Defense has tapped several contractor groups for daily calls to help secure the defense industrial base during the coronavirus outbreak, reports Carten Cordell for the Washington Business Journal.
TOURISM, PARKS SAY STAY AWAY: Metro announced Thursday the closure of its Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery stations to discourage any nonessential riders looking to visit the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin, Sophie Kaplan reports for The Washington Times.
- As COVID-19 continues to spread, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has a message for anyone who wants to visit the resort: just stay home, Keith Demko writes in the Salisbury Daily Times.
- A host of Ocean City events have already been canceled over the coming weeks, including job fairs during which the town’s hospitality industry would normally staff up for the summer season, Scott Dance reports for the Sun.
- While officials say it’s generally safe outdoors, they urge precautions, reports Tim Prudente and Meredith Cohn write in the Sun.
BUT THERE’S STILL BOOZE: Maryland’s governor and top tax collector are making it easier to get an alcoholic beverage during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Bryan Sears reports for The Daily Record. State restrictions on delivering alcohol have been lifted subject to local authorities, and enforcement of craft beer purchase limits has been suspended.
COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE HELPS RELIEF EFFORTS: A leading association for commercial real estate professionals said Thursday that it is launching efforts to connect nonprofits and philanthropic organizations with space to organize relief efforts in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Adam Bednar writes for the Daily Record.
U.S. CENSUS PROCEEDS, CREATING NEW CHALLENGES IN COUNT: Meanwhile, the U.S. census launched last week in the midst of the public health crisis that grows by the day, Alison Knezevich reports for the Sun.
OPINION: ‘GANGSTER ASSEMBLY’: Brian Griffiths in Red Maryland opines that the House of Delegates stripped Del. Geraldine Valentio-Smith (D-Prince George’s) from being chair of the Spending Affordability Committee after Valentio-Smith joined Republicans in objecting to a constitutional amendment that strips the governor of exclusive authority over the state budget process.
NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT ON FORT DERRICK: The secretary of the Army toured Fort Detrick on Thursday in order to learn more about the work being done to combat COVID-19, Heather Mongilio reports in the Frederick New-Post.