Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has submitted emergency legislation to allow the state to transfer up to $50 million in resources for a coronavirus response, he announced at a Board of state Public Works meeting Tuesday.
The funding would come from the state’s Revenue Stabilization Account— a “rainy day fund,” he said.
Hogan also shared plans to allocate $10 million for an emergency coronavirus preparedness fund as part of a supplemental budget. The Maryland Emergency Management Agency raised the state’s activation from normal to advanced Tuesday morning, he said, in order to potentially mobilize resources.
“Given the rapidly evolving nature of this threat to public health, it is critical that we have the flexibility to immediately access these resources,” Hogan said. “I want to continue to assure Marylanders that our state is taking every precaution when it comes to the coronavirus.”
The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, originated in China and has since spread worldwide, with over 90,000 cases and 3,000 deaths reported by the World Health Organization so far. In the U.S., 80 cases have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 13 states, with a total of nine deaths. No cases have been confirmed in Maryland, so far.
“I would encourage all of our citizens not to panic, but to take this seriously and continue to stay informed,” Hogan said.
The CDC also authorized the Maryland Health Department to test for coronavirus Tuesday, Hogan said. Instead of waiting for tests to be sent to the CDC in Atlanta, patients can now be tested through the state’s department of health labs in Baltimore, according to a statement from Hogan’s office. Virginia and Washington, D.C. were also authorized to conduct testing.
As of Wednesday, 21 people in Maryland have been tested for the virus; 10 did not test positive, and the other 11 tests are pending, according to the state health department.
“While we continue to hope for the best, we continue to prepare for the worst,” Hogan said.