Maryland will postpone its presidential primary until June to protect citizens from the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The primary will be held on June 2 instead of April 28, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.
The Maryland State Board of Elections has until April 3 to propose a voting plan that will protect the public, Hogan said. A special election for the state's 7th Congressional District, represented by Rep. Elijah Cummings before his death in the fall, will move forward in April under a vote by mail system.
The Maryland governor has taken some of the country's more serious steps to enforce social distancing. All schools, restaurants, movie theaters, bars and gyms have been closed in an effort to stop the spread of coronavirus. Restaurants still can offer carryout, delivery and drive-thru service.
Large group gatherings are banned, and Maryland State Police have promised to levy consequences on violators.
Violating an executive order during an emergency in punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail, or both, Maryland State Police say.
Hogan also encouraged Marylanders to stop "panic buying," or stocking up unnecessary levels of supplies. He suggested people share with neighbors in need.
The governor pushed the federal government to speed up their response and ability to test for coronavirus. Neither Maryland nor other states have enough test kits to meet demand, Hogan said.
"Testing is a problem, the equipment is a problem. And these are issues that we're trying to address," Hogan said.
The governor said he would like to implement drive-through coronavirus testing, but said that other states failed miserably after thousands of people crammed in, overloading the system.
"I would like them opened yesterday," Hogan said. "But [other states] crashed and failed."
Hogan on Tuesday announced more measures that could impact residents' daily lives or future plans, especially in terms of travel and transport.
All residents are urged to avoid unnecessary travel.
At Baltimore-Washington Airport, steps will be taken to enact social distancing including enforcing carry-out only rules at restaurants. MARC train service and all other public transit services will be cut in half beginning Wednesday.
On the roads, the state will only allow cashless tolling. Most driver's license tests will be postponed, except for commercial drivers licenses.
The Preakness, scheduled for May 16, may be postponed until September.
"If we do nothing, the numbers are catastrophic and the curve goes up like this and it overwhelms the health care system," Hogan said. He went onto say that closing schools made a dramatic difference in the steep increase in cases.
On Tuesday morning, health officials updated the state's coronavirus case count to 57, higher than D.C. or Virginia. Montgomery County is the hardest hit.
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