BALTIMORE — Baltimore officials confirm the city has its first confirmed coronavirus case.
Mayor Jack Young says the man is in his 60's and he's getting treated at an area hospital.
Health Commissioner Letitia Dzirasa said this case is believed to be an instance of "community transmission".
Since the announcement, local businesses have started announcing voluntary closures. Several Little Italy restaurants moved to online order only and at least eight Fells Point businesses are closing for the foreseeable future.
"Although our government has not yet mandated it, we as business owners feel that in order to protect our community, we have no choice but to close our doors and insist we all take the idea of social distancing seriously. The small business community of Fells Point puts a high premium on social responsibility and as a result, we feel we must do what is in the best interest of the community at large. It is the opinion of the business owners that the only real way to prevent transmission of coronavirus is to close our doors," wrote the business owners in a letter. "We will continue to monitor the situation. When public health officials express confidence that it is safe to reopen our doors, we will immediately make the necessary steps to do so."
The restaurants that are closed are Max’s Taphouse, Kooper’s Tavern, Slainte Irish Pub and Restaurant, Woody’s Cantina, Poppy & Stella, The Admirals Cup (as well as their sister property, Bookmakers Cocktail Club in Federal Hill), The Horse You Came In On Saloon and DogWatch Tavern.
The Horseshoe Casino Baltimore also closed its doors at 10 p.m. after an emergency order from Gov. Larry Hogan ordering all casino's and racetracks across the state close effective at midnight.
"This decision is a precautionary measure only, made to ensure we are in compliance with local rules and regulations. During the closure, Horseshoe Baltimore will be paying two weeks of pay to all team members and benefits will not be interrupted," said Horseshoe Baltimore in a statement.
Baltimore leaders announced several other preventative steps after the city's first COVID-19 positive patient believed to be a case of community transmission. Health officials expect more positive cases in the coming days and are asking for everyone to take social distancing seriously.
"I'm pleading with you to consider your fellow resident, your older neighbor, your family friend or your grandparent who may be at risk for severe complications from COVID-19," said Dzirasa.
Starting Monday, Young has instructed that:
- All Senior Centers and Recreation Centers will suspend programs. These centers will be kept open as food distribution centers
- The City of Baltimore has activated sheltering in place for our homeless neighbors. City-funded homeless day centers will remain open and people experiencing homelessness are encouraged to remain in shelters and will not be forced out during the day. The Mayor’s Office of Homeless Services, the Baltimore City Health Department and the Department of General Services are working to identify a site for community quarantining should our city require it
- The City of Baltimore will only accept payments online, by mail, or, in limited cases, by phone. We will suspend late fees through at least May 1st. Payment windows at the Abel Wolman Building will be closed. Please click here [lnks.gd]for detailed payment information
- The City of Baltimore will only accept permit applications online. This includes: Department of Transportation, Recreation & Parks, Health Department, Department of Public Works and Department of Housing & Community Development. For information about a specific type of permit, please call 311
- All licenses that expire March 5 and after are extended until 30 days after the end of the Governor's State of Emergency
- The City of Baltimore is suspending in person services at the City's Career and Youth Opportunity Centers. Our staff will provide services and appointments by telephone by dialing 410-396-3009
"I want to stress that these two weeks are not a vacation for our youth out of school or residents sent home from work. This is not time to hang out with friends or go catch the latest movie. I implore everyone take care of your neighbors at this time. It's not just about you, it's about all of us," said Young.
Effective Wednesday, March 18, 2020 all Baltimore City employees designated as "telework eligible" will be required to work from home or remote locations until further notice.
Mayor Young has directed HR professionals to work with managers to identify eligible employees and coordinate with Baltimore City Information Technology to ensure technology needs are met.
In addition, all city employee work related travel is suspended until further notice.
In anticipation of positive COVID-19 cases being identified in Baltimore City, Mayor Young activated the Emergency Operations Center this week, canceled all City-permitted gatherings of more than 250 people, and suspended activities at City-operated senior center buildings.
Additionally, Baltimore City Public Schools and City recreation centers have been closed for the next two weeks, and the Mayor and Sheriff have announced a two-week halt on all eviction notices.