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Maryland Public Schools will remain closed for at least a month as Covid-19 cases increase

(right) Maryland Governor Larry Hogan

As of Wednesday, Maryland added 74 case of Covid-19 in 24 hours. There are now 423 cases, and 4 deaths. At a news conference, Governor Larry Hogan said 217 of Maryland's cases are between the ages of 20-50. 

That's nearly HALF of our total cases. There are now 2,400 beds available--putting Maryland weeks ahead of schedule in of Hogan's call for hospitals statewide to add an additional 6,000 beds to handle an expected surge of COVID-19 cases.You can’t put a time frame on saving people’s lives," said Hogan. "We’re going to make decisions based on the scientists and the facts. "

On Tuesday, Governor Hogan visited the Baltimore Convention Center, where the Maryland National Guard will set up a field hospital as part of our public health surge plan. They will start with 250 beds and 50 bed packs.“This is going to be a part of the surge capacity that we will need," said Hogan. I’m anxious to see it get done. It is going to save lives. It’s pretty amazing,”

The governor is directing the Maryland Department of Health to encourage medical/nursing/medical technician students to staff clinics and field hospitals. Four million dollars in federal funding is available to help communities provide at-home meals for senior citizens. Hogan said 2,300 people sign up for the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps since Friday alone. Hogan Wednesday announced a number additional actions to help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.

Hogan has issued an order requiring health care providers to prioritize tests for hospitalized and chronic care patients, symptomatic first responders, and symptomatic nursing home patients. An emergency order has been enacted to authorize a fast-track process to bring more testing capacity online without FDA approval--dramatically shortening a process that would ordinarily take several months.

The Maryland National Guard is distributing medical equipment from a Strategic National Stockpile site near Baltimore. The U.S. Air Force, Governor Larry Hogan's coronavirus task force and the Maryland Department of Health are working to sort through the items and figure out what needs to be prioritized for what hospitals and healthcare workers. The supplies in the stockpile are only utilized when normal stocks are depleted amid national emergencies. Hogan is looking for a presidential disaster declaration to be approved. He announced the request Wednesday as he updated Marylanders about the state's response to the virus. Hogan also urged Congress to pass the massive economic stimulus bill after an agreement was announced overnight.

Earlier this week, Governor Hogan announced a $175 million+ economic relief package for Maryland small businesses and workers.This includes a $75 million loan fund and a $50 million grant fund, with $1 million in grants dedicated to non-profits, will provide working capital to be used for payroll, rent, fixed-debt payments and other mission critical cash operating costs.

The Maryland Department of Commerce will offer up to $125 million in loans and grants to small businesses and nonprofits through the Maryland Small Business COVID-19 Emergency Relief Fund. Businesses and nonprofits with under 50 full- and part-time employees will be eligible, and loans will range up to $50,000 and grants up to $10,000.

Hogan has allocated $5 million and the Maryland Department of Labor has allocated $2 million to collaboratively launch the COVID-19 Layoff Aversion Fund. A total of $7 million in funds will be available to provide flexible rapid response services to proactively support businesses and workers undergoing economic stresses due to COVID-19.

Governor Hogan has directed the Maryland National Guard and the Maryland Department of Health to collaborate with Prince George’s County and the University of Maryland Medical System on a pilot assessment location at FedEx Field in Landover, home of the Washington Redskins.