Cecil County Virus Count up to 9 Cases, Statewide Tally Rises Sharply; Jobless Numbers Soar in Cecil, State Due to Biz Closings

March 26, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is expanding rapidly across Maryland, as the number of confirmed cases more than doubled in Cecil County—growing from 4 to 9 confirmed cases– and grew exponentially statewide in just a day. The economic toll of the virus also made its first measurable impact, with soaring applications for jobless benefits in the state and locally, due to business closings related to the virus.

On Thursday (3/26/2020) morning, the state Department of Health posted updated numbers for confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus statewide and by county locations. Those figures listed 580 confirmed cases of COVID-19—an increase of 157 new cases over the previous day, for the largest one-day increase so far.

“We are only at the beginning of this crisis, in our state, in the National Capital Region, and in America, said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan. “As I have repeatedly stressed, we should continue to expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise.”
“This battle is going to be much harder, take much longer, and be much worse than almost anyone comprehends. We have never faced anything like this ever before, and I continue to urge the people of our state to stay in place at home and stay safe,” he added in a public statement.

But even those new numbers did not fully reflect the confirmed caseload. Thursday morning, Cecil County health officials advised County Executive Alan McCarthy of five new confirmed cases that were not yet counted in the statewide tally.

Earlier local counts tallied two cases in Rising Sun and two in Elkton, which were included in the statewide figures. But other new cases reported on Thursday included confirmed positive tests for a Georgetown resident and three more in Elkton.

“My support goes out to the patients and their families who are facing this virus diagnosis,” McCarthy told Cecil Times. “Our health department is working diligently, and with compassion, to reach out to these patients and their families to make sure they have all the support they need.”

The latest surge in confirmed cases came after Hogan directed a month-long extension of a previous two-week closure of all public schools in the state, ordered closure of all non-essential business operations, outlawed public gatherings of more than 10 people, and shut down entertainment venues, restaurants and bars, while only allowing takeout or home delivery of meals.

Meanwhile, the pandemic-related economic slowdown, nationally and in Maryland, registered for the first time Thursday in federal and state reports of new applications for jobless benefits, for the week ended 3/21/2020. Nationally, the first-time jobless claims filings soared to 3.3 million. In Maryland, the new jobless claims rose to 41,882–up from just 3,864 statewide in the previous week, according to the Maryland Department of Labor.

“Today, we are also seeing an unprecedented increase in the number of Marylanders filing for unemployment. We are going to do everything we can to help people and small businesses get back on their feet,” Gov. Hogan said in a statement responding to Thursday’s economic numbers.

Closer to home, Cecil County experienced a huge rise in the number of first-time jobless claims in the new state report issued on Thursday. There were 665 new jobless benefit claims by county residents, the state data reported. In contrast, just a week ago, Cecil County registered just 41 jobless benefit claims.

“Of course I am disappointed that so many of our residents have lost jobs and their economic security as a result of the COVID-19 virus and the important steps being taken to protect the health of our citizens,” McCarthy told CECIL TIMES “But our public health and safety comes first and we must continue to expand. our efforts to safeguard our citizens,” he said.

“Cecil County has taken steps in the past three years, before this pandemic surfaced, to build up an economic security blanket to tide us over in hard times,” McCarthy said. “I pray that it will be enough to carry us through this crisis.”

McCarthy’s administration has implemented the first fully balanced budgets in Cecil County in over two decades, mandating a balance between annual expenditures and annual available revenues. He also won County Council approval to raise emergency funds in a “rainy day” account from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of overall county operating funds.

In addition, the county has added over 4,000 new jobs in the past three years to the local economy.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Gov. Hogan requested a presidential disaster declaration for Maryland that would qualify state and local governments and Maryland non-profits for “disaster unemployment insurance, hazard mitigation and emergency protection measures,” Hogan said. Federal approval of the state’s request was granted on Thursday.

And the US Senate has passed, and the House is considering, a massive aid package that would expedite unemployment benefits to workers and businesses affected by the virus crisis, as well as send new direct aid to the states.

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