Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (left) speaks during a March 6 press conference in Annapolis to give an update on the three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (left) speaks during a March 6 press conference in Annapolis to give an update on the three confirmed cases of coronavirus in the state. (William J. Ford/The Washington Informer)

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said Friday the three people from Montgomery County who tested positive for the coronavirus were infected during an Egyptian cruise ship on the Nile River.

“This does appear to be the same cruise ship the World Health Organization announced today that has 12 workers placed in quarantine for 14 days,” he said.

Various news outlets reported the 12 workers aboard the M.S. Asara, which Hogan named as the cruise ship the three Montgomery County residents traveled on, are “asymptomatic,” or showing no signs of the virus.

Reuters reported the 12 cases were diagnosed after a Taiwanese American woman on the cruise ship tested positive for the coronavirus upon her return home.

The Maryland residents with the coronavirus strain, also called COVID-19, are a married couple in their 70s and another person in their 50s. The three were not traveling together, authorities said.

Hogan said the three Maryland cases appear to be linked to confirmed coronavirus cases in Texas.

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler declared the city a “local disaster” Friday while announcing the cancellation of South by Southwest, the popular annual music and media festival that was scheduled to begin in Austin on March 13. However, no confirmed cases have been reported in that city or county.

As of Friday evening, 15 people in the U.S. have reportedly died from complications of the disease — 14 in Washington and one in California. More than 100,000 people worldwide have been infected with the virus, including over 3,400 deaths.

Hogan said one of the three infected Maryland residents returned home on Feb. 20, then traveled to Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and came in contact with children and staff in a local school district. Five of those schools in the Philadelphia suburb closed Friday, he said.

Hogan said the Maryland Health Department’s investigation determined one of the other residents attended a gathering Feb. 28 with about 70 to 100 people at the Village of Rockville, a retirement community in Montgomery County. The event took place between noon to 6 p.m., he said.

Anyone who attended should contact their health care provider or the Maryland Emergency Management Agency call center at 410-517-3720.

“We are providing these updates not to necessarily raise alarm, but in the interest of full transparency and out of an abundance of caution,” he said. “We are committed to everything in our power to contain this virus and limit its spread in our state. All levels of government are working together.”

Hogan declared a state of emergency Thursday after announcing that the three residents had contracted the virus.

Because of the declaration, all state health insurers to wave cost-sharing, copayments, co-insurance and deductibles associated with testing for the coronavirus.

“It is critical that anyone who is experiencing symptoms and meets the criteria for testing is able to do so right away without any concerns whatsoever about cost associated with it,” Hogan said.

Meanwhile, test results from seven other cases in the state all came back negative, including three students from a Jewish school in Baltimore who had indirect contact with a person from New York who tested positive.

As of Friday night, 374 people in Maryland who had indirect contact or had contact but are not showing symptoms of the coronavirus are currently being monitored by the state health department. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded the criteria for state health departments to test and receive results in a 24-hour period.

The three Montgomery County residents are the state’s only cases thus far. Of the 44 other people in the state who have been tested, 33 were negative and eight are still pending.

“I want to continue to ensure Marylanders are taking every precaution when it comes to the coronavirus,” he said. “Our highest priority is keeping our residents safe. I would encourage the citizens of Maryland to remain calm, but also take this seriously and continue to stay informed.”

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