RadioOnFire.com – Two more Marylanders have met U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention criteria to be tested for the novel coronavirus, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.
Both patients had recently returned from China. Health officials are evaluating a third possible case. Hogan said $10 million in funding for response to a potential outbreak is part of a supplemental budget request to be submitted to lawmakers.
“I want to assure Marylanders that our state is taking every precaution when it comes to the coronavirus because our highest priority is keeping our residents safe,” Hogan said. “While we are hoping for the best, we are also actively planning for the worse/”
In a news conference held at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Reisterstown, Hogan said he spoke Thursday afternoon with Vice President Mike Pence, whom President Donald Trump tasked Wednesday with leading the coronavirus response at the federal level.
Hogan stressed there was no immediate public health threat to Marylanders.
Last month, two Marylanders were tested for the virus, which originated in China’s Hubei province. Two Marylanders were tested for the virus last month. Both tested negative.
As of Thursday, the virus had reached 50 countries, with more than 82,000 confirmed cases. Congressional leaders are poised to approve billions in new funding for the CDC.
Pence on Thursday brought in Debbie Birx, the administration’s global AIDS coordinator and a medical doctor, to serve as his chief adviser for responding to the virus outbreak. He also added Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Larry Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, to the task force, a recognition that the virus was quickly becoming an economic, not just a public health, threat.
Hogan said state officials are working with local and federal officials as well as hospitals and other health care providers. Citing CDC guidance, he advised schools, day cares and workplaces to make contingency plans.
Maryland Deputy Health Secretary Fran Phillips said officials are working with the CDC to get permission to test samples in Baltimore rather than overnighting them to Atlanta. She said officials are working with hospitals and providers to track inventory of supplies.
There is not yet a vaccine for the coronavirus. Phillips advised Marylanders to practice frequent hand-washing, cover their mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing and stay home if sick. Anyone who returns to Maryland from China is asked to monitor their health for 14 days after leaving China. U.S. officials are warning Americans to avoid nonessential travel to China and South Korea and to consider postponing travel to other countries where the virus has spread, including Italy and Japan.