Coronavirus updates: Medical staff arrive from around US to assist in Md., 500 boxes of food given away in Montgomery Co.

The latest

  • A pantry staple giveaway Friday evening by a chain of grocery stores snarled traffic in a number of areas, even though few cars have been on the road due to stay-at-home orders.
  • Nurses from around the U.S. are arriving in Maryland to help out at the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center, which is opening three floors to COVID-19 patients next week.
  • A group rallied for the reopening of the Maryland economy outside of the statehouse in Annapolis on Saturday.
  • As of Saturday morning, Maryland reported 736 new coronavirus cases since Friday, bringing the state’s total to 12,308. Of those, 463 patients have died from COVID-19, an increase of 38. In Virginia, the total is 8,053, up over 500 since Friday. Deaths in the commonwealth rose by 27 to 258. D.C. has yet to report its numbers on April 18. Approximately 23,000 positive cases have been reported so far in the District, Maryland and Virginia.

The symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Health officials say that if you have these symptoms, you should call your doctor. Do not just show up. Medical facilities need to get ready for you. If you don’t have a doctor and you live in D.C. or the nearby Maryland suburbs, D.C.’s mayor recommends calling the Testing Triage Center at 855-363-0333 or Mary’s Center at 844-796-2797. If you live in Virginia, call 211.

Charles County details COVID-19 cases in nursing homes

The Charles County, Maryland, Department of Health said Saturday there are 101 known cases of the coronavirus in nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the county, including at Sagepoint Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

“The Charles County Department of Health continues to work closely with the Maryland Department of Health to support COVID-19 preparedness and response capacity in all facilities,” the county said in a news release.

Additional information about the coronavirus in Charles County can be obtained online or by calling 301-609-6717or 301-609-6777. The call center is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.

Md. protesters demand all businesses in the state reopen

Protesters drove through the streets of Annapolis, Maryland, on Saturday afternoon to urge Gov. Larry Hogan to reopen all businesses closed because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hundreds of cars participated in the protest near the statehouse to oppose the state guidance aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

More than 1,700 people have signed an online petition for the event, which was organized by the group Reopen Maryland.

Protests have been organized across the country to push back on stay-at-home orders.

Montgomery County, Kingdom Fellowship AME Church team up to giveaway 500 boxes of groceries

Capital Area Food Bank, Montgomery County and Kingdom Fellowship AME Church gave away groceries Saturday morning to those who waited an hour or longer to get them.

Rev. Kendra Smith said “the need is great, this is one of the areas in Montgomery County that are one of the hardest hit.” She and Will Jawando, a county councilman, were just two who helped coordinate the event at the White Oak recreation center in Silver Spring.

“Within an hour, all this food was gone, and we had to cut the line off early,” Jawando said, noting that while the group would have liked to help everyone, it demonstrated the degree of need in the county. He and the organizers were glad to be able to help, and Smith said those who didn’t get groceries today shouldn’t worry — the group will be back next week to help.

Maryland, Virginia, DC coordinating virus response

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam and District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke in a conference call Friday to discuss coordinating virus response efforts, The Associated Press reported.

Hogan said he and his counterparts have frequently spoken over the past month, and their staff are in daily contact.

“We understand that while each area is unique that there are certainly things that we have to do together as a region,” Hogan said.

Northam said that Virginia and its neighbors share some of the same challenges, and “we will do everything that we can to be in coordination and be consistent so we’ll be as straightforward as possible for everybody in this region.”

Read the full article from The Associated Press.

Nurses from around the U.S. arrive in Maryland at Laurel Medical Center prepares for COVID-19 patients

Nurses from as far away as Dallas have arrived in Maryland to help COVID-19 patients who are going to be moved into newly reopened floors at the University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center.

The floors has not been used since 2018 and in the last couple weeks they have been readied for patients in the greatest need of help.

“A monumental chore” is how Dr. Joseph Wright, the chief medical officer for the UM Hospital System’s Capital Region, described preparing the hospital in just four weeks’ time.

“The determination was made to recommission floors 3, 4 and 5 at the Laurel Medical Center to enable us to accomplish that,” Wright said.

More Coronavirus News

Md. congressional delegation: Get funds to hospitals most in need

Maryland’s entire congressional delegation is calling on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to direct future emergency funding to the state’s hospitals and health care providers that need it most.

The lawmakers this week sent a letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, urging him to direct funding to hospitals so they can get COVID-19 testing supplies, personal protective equipment and other medical supplies.

The letter doesn’t mention specific hospitals, but notes that the Baltimore-Washington corridor has been declared an emergency hot spot by federal officials.

“The quality and effectiveness of our response and our ability to prevent further spread of the virus will be largely dependent on our ability to ensure that health care providers have the resources they need,” the letter states.

Northam reacts to White House plan

Responding to the release of the White House plan laying out broad guidelines for a three-phase approach to reopen the economy and relax social distancing measures, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said Friday the plan is “consistent with everything we in Virginia are doing,” calling it a gradual, phased approach “based on science and data.”

He noted, however, that one of the benchmarks for reaching even the first phase of easing social distancing restrictions requires coronavirus cases to be on a downward trend for 14 days.

“We have not met that criteria,” Northam said. “We are still seeing more cases each day, not fewer, so we are not there yet.”

When asked by a reporter to respond to a tweet from President Donald Trump reading, in part, “LIBERATE VIRGINIA,” appearing to challenge the state’s social distancing measures, Northam responded: “I do not have time to involve myself in Twitter wars. I will continue to make sure I do everything I can to keep Virginians safe and save lives.”

Northam also announced a handful of new measures aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Virginia’s nursing homes and long-term care facilities, including expanding testing.

The governor said efforts are underway to ensure that all people moving into long-term care facilities are tested for COVID-19 before entry, to reduce the risk of bringing the disease in with them.

WTOP’s Melissa Howell, Dick Uliano and Scott Gelman contributed to this report.

Dan Friedell

Dan Friedell is a digital writer for WTOP. He came to the D.C. area in 2007 to work as digital editor for, and since then has worked for a number of local and national news organizations.

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