Gov. Hogan advising all public Maryland universities to finish semesters online

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a coronavirus press conference in Annapolis on March 12, 2020. (Matt McDonald/For The Diamondback)

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Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan advised all public colleges and universities to finish their semesters online at a press conference Thursday morning, following several other states in a move meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Last week, the University of Maryland announced it would extend spring break by one week and hold online classes until at least April 10 before making a decision about the rest of the semester. Hogan cited Johns Hopkins University and Morgan State University — two Maryland universities that have already made the move to online-only for the remainder of the school year — during his remarks Thursday.

“I have been in communication with the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland, and asked them to take the same steps for the entire University System,” Hogan said. “While the campuses will remain open, they should discourage students from coming back to the campus and to take their courses online for the remainder of the semester.”

On Tuesday, Kansas became the first state in the country to announce a cancellation of all in-person classes throughout the school system. And multiple colleges and universities have taken similar steps around the country, including Indiana University, Penn State University and Michigan State University.

In Maryland, there are now 107 confirmed coronavirus cases, and Hogan announced Thursday that a five-year-old girl from Howard County became the first child to contract the virus. On Wednesday night, the governor announced the first coronavirus-related death in the state, a Prince George’s County man in his 60s who had underlying medical conditions.

Among other announcements, Hogan said shopping malls would close at 5 p.m. Thursday — the latest closure, following dine-in bars, restaurants and gyms — and said there will be restrictions to BWI-Thurgood Marshall Airport, allowing only travelers with tickets and essential personnel.

Additionally, Hogan said all events in Maryland must be limited to 10 people, echoing an updated guideline that President Trump’s administration issued Monday. And after issuing an executive order instructing the Maryland Department of Health to create a plan to open closed hospital facilities around the state, Hogan said Thursday 900 additional hospital beds have been made available, and he expects 1,400 more beds to be open by early April.

With the rapid rise in coronavirus cases and limitations on in-person meetings, Hogan also postponed the state’s primary election from April 28 until June 2, he said Tuesday. Meanwhile, the general election for the 7th Congressional District will continue with a vote-by-mail system.

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