Daily COVID-19 Briefing: 3/30/20

Top news, reports and insights for today:

  1. Daily change in cases and deaths suggest slowing trend
    Lots of new cases (20,596) and deaths (421) were reported in the US on Sunday, however the rate of growth in both continues to trend in a direction that is consistent with an overall slowing of the epidemic. It’s possible this slowing is explained more by depletion of band-width in testing (fewer tests, testing supplies running low, or labs back-logged). It is also not a sign that the US is reaching it’s peak in new cases. China, for example, did not reach peak cases until roughly two weeks after daily cases stopped increasing exponentially. The graph below shows at least 3 days of slowing in the rate of new cases.
  1. Maryland Governor Hogan issues a stay-at-home order
    Today, Maryland’s Gov. Hogan issued a binding stay-at-home order effective at 8pm ET across the state. Marylanders may only leave their homes for essential work or urgent medical care, to get food or prescriptions or for other “absolutely necessary” reasons, the Governor said. The Virginia Governor and the DC mayor have said they will follow Maryland and issue similar orders. As of now, Maryland has 1,413 cases, concentrated heavily in areas around Washington DC. Montgomery County leads the state with 341 cases, while 294 have been reported in Prince George’s county. Over half of infections in MD are among those 50 years old and younger. Over the weekend, the number of COVID-19 deaths tripled from 5 to 15. The graph below shows an epidemic curve for Maryland and provides some clues as to why the stay-at-home order is coming now. It shows a dramatic uptick in new cases in Maryland starting on March 26. Numerous experts worry that the MD/VA/DC region will soon become a hot spot in the US outbreak.
  1. A copy of today’s executive order in Maryland can be found here and include:
  • Parents can pick up meals or supplies from schools.
  • Marylanders are not to travel out of state unless it is “absolutely necessary.” Those returning to the state must self-quarantine for 14 days
  • Liquor stores will remain open
  • MD state police and county sherrifs (and law enforcement officers of a “political subdivision” will enforce this order. Violators could face up to 1 year in jail and/or fines of up to $5,000
  • Individuals may travel to care for “a family member, friend, pet, or livestock”.
  • Outdoor exercise is permitted while observing social distance
  • Social, community or spiritual, recreational and sporting events of more than 10 people are prohibited
  • Bars and restaurants can remain open if they deliver
  • Senior centers, restaurants and bars that don’t deliver, fitness centers, theatres, enclosed/indoor malls, and recreational establishments will all be closed.
  • Tattoo parlors, tanning salons, barber shops and beauty salons will be closed.
  • Exceptions are included to permit government buildings, newspapers, and media outlets, and non-profits providing essential services to low-income persons to remain open.
  • The order does not specify an end date and will remain in effect “until after termination of the state of emergency”.