ANNAPOLIS, Md. – Gov. Larry Hogan said Monday that he hoped the arrest last week of a man who violated his order against gatherings of 10 or more people would make it clear that he intends to enforce the measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
“Most people are abiding by them, but a few people are refusing to,” Hogan said of the measures during an interview with Fox News. “In this particular case, this man refused to cooperate and was arrested.”
Hogan has responded aggressively to the COVID-19 outbreak since the first cases appeared. Maryland was one of the first states to declare an emergency and to close its schools. And on Monday, Hogan announced he issuing a “stay at home” directive for the state, which makes it a misdemeanor for residents to leave their homes except to get food, medicine or medical treatment as of 8 p.m. EDT.
Earlier this month, Hogan issued an executive order making it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, or both, for people to hold large gatherings.
On March 27, officers arrested Shawn Marshall Myers, 41, after he hosted about 60 people at his home for a bonfire. It was the second time Myers held a large gathering in a week after agreeing to break up another party at his house on March 22.
Hogan said the arrest ” sends a great message out there to folks that we’re not playing around.”
“When you do something like this you’re not only endangering your life, but the lives of our fellow citizens, and we’re not going to tolerate it.”
Despite the aggressive actions designed to curb the spread, Hogan predicted that the Washington, D.C., and the area surrounding the capital city would soon be as hard hit by the outbreak as New York, which now leads the nation in the number of confirmed cases.
“We’ve doubled over the past just two days, and we look a lot like where New York was just a couple weeks ago,” Hogan said of the rising number of confirmed COVID-19 cases. he said the experts “concur that we are just on the next wave of hot spots.”
There are now more than 1,400 confirmed cases in Maryland and at least 15 people have died from the illness, according to the Maryland Department of Health.
Hogan said the spreading contagion in the region threatens hundreds of thousands of federal employees, many of whom are responsible for national security or are leading the federal response to the outbreak.
The Maryland Republican has been a sharp critic of President Donald Trump and considered mounting a primary challenge against him. As the chairman of the National Governor’s Association, he said he has pressured Trump to do more to address the “tremendous shortage” of equipment facing the states and health care workers.
“The president has made the effort to communicate, but we’re still pressing because there’s still issues that all the states and the federal government, quite frankly, are having,” Hogan said, adding that Vice President Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed to coordinate the administration’s coronavirus response, “has been terrific.”
“We’re going to keep pushing, but we really are trying to work together as best we can, because we’re all in this together,” Hogan said.
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On Sunday, Trump announced he was extending the federal guidelines that call for aggressive social distancing measure until April 30. He had previously floated the idea of lifting the restrictions is some areas as soon as Easter.