After weeks of monitoring the spread of Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19, we are now seeing the virus affect our state and local communities. This is not a drill. This is a serious situation, which requires all Marylanders to be proactive, vigilant, and calm.

The Maryland General Assembly, the Governor, and all state agencies are unified in the effort to keep residents safe in the face of this public health emergency. We are working together as leaders of your state in an effort to address this crisis.

Public health research shows that the more steps we can take right now to prevent transmission the better off Marylanders will be; therefore, I am committed to keep you updated as information becomes available.

Out of an abundance of caution this evening, Governor Larry Hogan announced that Maryland will continue to operate under a high level state of emergency and will take additional precautionary measures to help mitigate the spread of the Coronavirus/COVID-19.

As of now, the following actions have been taken:

• The Maryland Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) has fully operationalized to mobilize all state resources.

• ‪Beginning on Monday, March 16‬, all schools throughout Maryland will close ‪through at least Friday, March 27, 2020‬

• A mandatory telework policy for all non-essential state employees is effect, including all legislative staff. Beginning tomorrow, my staff will be working from their home and we will do our best to continue providing citizen services. Visit my website if you need specific service needs. This will help us filter requests quickly in lieu of email or social media inquiries which become difficult to manage effectively.

• Access to the House and Senate Office buildings and Legislative Services will be restricted to credentialed personnel. Bill hearings are canceled. Legislative committee and floor work will continue with essential personnel only.

• All mass gatherings and events of 250 or more people are cancelled or postponed.

• Senior activity centers will be closed.

• The cruise ship terminal at the Port of Baltimore will be closed in the coming days.

• The National Guard has been activated to respond to if the need arises.

The virus will cause some disruption to everyone’s normal schedule including legislators, so please be patient.

The General Assembly will remain in session to finish critical bills and fulfill our Constitutional duties.

State agencies will also continue to develop comprehensive and coordinated prevention and response plans for the coronavirus.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information, please check Maryland Department of Health websites and follow their Twitter and Facebook pages for real-time updates:

Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Resources…/Novel-coronavirus.aspx

Maryland Department of Health COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions…/coronavirus_FAQ.pdf

COVID-19 Information for Older Adults…/FAQ_covid19_older_adults…

All residents are encouraged to remain calm and take preventative steps to protect yourself and your family. If you can, also help your neighbors and friends who may need some assistance. This is the time to execute your family emergency plan.

Take preventive steps that are always recommended to slow the spread of any respiratory illnesses like colds and flu. Follow these guidelines:

• Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds,

• Using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available,

• Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue, your sleeve or your elbow,

• Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using standard cleaning practices,

• Avoid touching your face,

• Avoid close contact with people who are sick, and

• Stay home if you are sick, except when seeking medical care.

If you do experience any symptoms such as fever over 100.4 degrees, coughing, or shortness of breath, please contact your primary care physician or call 2-1-1 for assistance.

The health and safety of every Marylander is our number one priority here in Annapolis and we’re taking a few extra, but necessary precautions to ensure that all of our residents are safe. As this very unusual situation continues to evolve, we will continue to take the appropriate steps to protect the well-being of all our residents and provide updates.

Thank you for taking the time to read and share this important information. Together we are strong! We are Maryland !

Stay safe, stay informed, and continue to follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Mary Ann