Breaking: Gov. Larry Hogan has postponed the April 28 primary Election to June 2.
ANNAPOLIS — Maryland will delay it’s presidential primary election amid heightened concerns that gatherings at polling places will increase the risk of community transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
Gov. Larry Hogan announced he will push back the primary election from April 28 to June 2. The state still will hold a special election on April 28 to fill the congressional seat left vacant by the death of Rep. Elijah Cummings.
“While there are many reasons for fear and uncertainty right now, ensuring that the voices of Maryland citizens are heard shouldn’t be one of them,” said Hogan.
The governor, speaking Tuesday morning, said he has ordered the closure of all vehicle emissions testing facilities. The Departments of Health and Transportation have been ordered to begin preparing those facilities for drive-thru testing of the virus even though state officials acknowledge that they do not have enough tests available.
Hogan said the state is also in talks with the operators of the Preakness Stakes to move the date of the iconic race. The Kentucky Derby, the first jewel in horse racing’s triple crown, announced Monday that it will hold the race in September rather than May.
The governor also announced a number of other actions as it continues to refine its response to the virus, including reducing MARC train service by 50 percent as well as reducing bus service. Toll collections on the state’s toll roads, bridges and tunnels will move to a cashless system. Hogan also said he is requesting the federal government to suspend the deadline for Real ID driver’s licenses.
The proclamation to delay the April statewide primary comes as many other states have either decided to delay their own elections or are considering options.
Hogan said while he wants to balance the safety of residents and poll workers and elections judges — many of whom are senior citizens and in the most vulnerable populations affected by the virus — he also is concerned about ensuring the 7th Congressional District seat is filled.
“We’re going to encourage people to vote absentee as much as possible and those who aren’t doing their normal absentee ballot can do whatever steps they need to take for mail in ballots,” said Hogan.
Hogan said using a mail-in option for the April 28 date for the entire state was impossible.
The number of confirmed cases of the virus among Maryland residents jumped again over night. It’s now at 57. The increase of 54 percent over the day before is the largest day-over-day increase since the first cases were reported March 5.
“In all honesty, the number is probably much higher,” said Hogan.
Hogan has repeatedly said officials expect the number of cases will continue to increase for some time. The public, he said, should be careful to limit exposure and be prepared for the disruption of their normal routines.
“At the same time, everyone should use common sense,” said Hogan. “Panic buying just increases person-to-person contact. Instead of hoarding cleaning and hygiene products, share with your neighbor. All of the stores are going to remain open. They’re going to be routinely stocking the shelves. We’re not going to be running out of those based necessities.”
COVID-19 is from a family of coronaviruses that include severe acute respiratory syndrome — SARS – and Middle East respiratory syndrome. The virus takes its name for the spikes that appear on the surface of its cells that resemble crowns.
Symptoms can include fever, cough and breathing trouble. Most people who catch the virus develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.