The Howard County Health Department (HCHD) today announced the first confirmed case of COVID-19 commonly referred to as coronavirus in Howard County. The patient is a woman in her 80s who has underlying health conditions and is currently in the hospital. County Executive Calvin Ball held a news conference today, where he declared a State of Emergency. Ball directed the Mall in Columbia to close for at least the next seven days effective midnight tonight. This includes all businesses with the exception of restaurants with external access. Ball also instructed the Shops at Savage Mill and two movie theaters, Regal Snowden Square and AMC Columbia to close effective at midnight. Video can be found here.
“We have been preparing for this to happen and are following recommendations of the Health Department on how to further slow community spread. We’re keeping this patient and all others being affected by coronavirus in our thoughts,” said County Executive Calvin Ball. “Over the past week the State and County have taken significant proactive measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 by encouraging social distancing, the cancellation of events, meetings and gatherings, and the closing of schools, libraries, and our community college. We will continue to work as a united and unified Howard County government along with our stakeholder partners to ensure that all our residents remain safe, calm and informed.”
According to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH), the patient was determined to be a resident at Lorien Elkridge, a nursing home facility in Howard County. Lorien Columbia, Lorien Hall Assisted Living and Lorien Encore at Turf Valley in Howard County have no cases. The patient has been hospitalized, and the facility is in the process of notifying all residents, staff, and family members. State and local officials will conduct testing, as indicated, for residents and staff. MDH has provided infection control guidance to the facility, and inspectors will be on-site to make sure it is being followed. MDH recommends that members of the public who recently visited this facility monitor themselves for symptoms of a respiratory infection including fever, flu-like symptoms, cough, difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.
“Howard County has joined other jurisdictions with a resident who has tested positive for COVID-19. This was inevitable, and we have planned for this day,” said Dr. Maura Rossman, Howard County Health Officer. “As a community, we can limit the spread of the coronavirus by continuing social distancing practices like staying home as much as possible and continuing to practice healthy habits. If you do get sick, please stay home if you have mild illness. If you develop more serious symptoms or have underlying health conditions, please contact your medical provider for advice. If you are experiencing a health emergency, contact 911. We will get through this by working together, remaining calm, and following guidance from the health department and your medical provider.”
Residents who may have contracted coronavirus and are experiencing symptoms should call their healthcare provider. If you do not have a healthcare provider, you can call the Health Department Coronavirus Information Line at 410-313-6284.
“Our firefighters and paramedics who had contact with the patient are self-quarantining and are in relatively good spirits, given the circumstance,” said William Anuszewski, Acting Fire Chief. “Our department will maintain contact with those responders and assure all needs are met and continue to monitor their conditions. To the community, please note moving forward, our responders may be wearing various forms of personal protective equipment to ensure the safety of our personnel and the community. Do not take alarm, these are universal precautions used in the emergency setting to limit exposures.”
Current and Updated Measures:
- Howard County is under a State of Emergency.
- County Executive Ball directed the Mall in Columbia to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days, with the exception of restaurants with external access.
- The Shops at Savage Mill, and two movie theaters, Regal Snowden Square and AMC Columbia were also instructed to close at midnight 3/15/20 for at least seven days.
- All County employees that are able were instructed to telework as of Monday, March 16th until further notice. All out-of-state official travel for County employees has been canceled through April 24.
- All Howard County Government gatherings, events, and meetings that attract one of the high-risk populations were canceled or rescheduled for March 12 – April 26, to be reassessed as new developments arise.
- Howard County Government issued public guidance regarding canceling or postponing meetings, events, and gatherings.
- All Howard County Public Schools are closed from March 14 – March 27.
- All Howard County Libraries are closed from March 16 – March 27.
- All 50+ Centers are closed from March 13th until further notice.
- All 50+ centers programs, activities and events are canceled until further notice.
- All indoor recreation facilities are closed from March 13 – March 27.
- All Department of Recreation and Parks programs, classes, and events are canceled from March 13 – 29, to be reevaluated on March 30th.
- Governor Hogan has banned all events or gatherings of 250 or more people, including social and religious events.
The above information is rapidly evolving, please check department and organization webpages and social media for the most up to date information.
All County residents are encouraged to take the proper precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19, including regular hand-washing and social distancing as appropriate. All residents, and particularly those at high risk, should follow CDC guidance.
For up-to-date fact sheets and information about COVID-19, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov.
For the latest information from Howard County, please visit: https://www.howardcountymd.gov/coronavirus.