We reported on Friday that the Maryland National Guard has become more visible across the Baltimore Metropolitan Area as the COVID-19 crisis could lead to a statewide Martial Law-style lockdown.
The Baltimore Patch is reporting that National Guard troops have been spotted not just in Baltimore City, but also across Baltimore County, and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties.
Here are some pictures of armored vehicles spotted in Baltimore City on Friday.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan deployed 2,000 National Guard troops across the state on March 16 after confirmed virus cases surged, now at 244 with three deaths (as of March 22). The soldiers are expected to help with state-level emergencies.
Here’s what the Maryland National Guard said in a press release to residents:
“To our friends and neighbors — there is not a threat of martial law. When you see a Maryland National Guard Humvee on your street or service members setting up tents, know we are providing services to someone in need!” Whether it’s providing transportation support, delivering much-needed supplies, or setting up health screening stations — we are working for you!”
The Baltimore Patch kept tabs on National Guard movements:
- TUESDAY: National Guard members escorted nine quarantined passengers arriving from the Grand Princess cruise ship at BWI to various locations across Maryland. They brought food and supplies so the people could self-quarantine for at least two weeks.
- THURSDAY: Maryland National Guard members helped conduct health screenings at the state house in Annapolis. Airmen from the 175th Wing ensured critical medical equipment was getting to local health departments and hospitals. It was shipped from the federal government to a warehouse in Anne Arundel County, where guardsmen prepared it for delivery to the field.
- FRIDAY: Members of the guard pitched tents in Landover, where WTOP reports health officials from Prince George’s County and Maryland are hoping to create a closed testing site for the new coronavirus at FedEx Field. Guardsmen from the Maryland Army National Guard’s 224th Medical Company Area Support, which is headquartered in Olney, set up a tent in Silver Spring, where officials said up to 30 medical soldiers would be able to support hospital workers in an emergency triage situation. Members of the National Guard were called to Baltimore City to help serve vulnerable populations, according to the mayor, who said their role was to help with food distribution to children and medical logistics planning.
“Our singular purpose is to meet the needs of the people of Maryland and do our part to help keep our communities safe,” Maj. Gen. Timothy E. Gowen, Adjutant General for Maryland, said in a statement. “The Maryland National Guard is focused and prepared to bring every appropriate capability to bear to confront this crisis.”
With the National Guard deployed across the metro area, Gov. Hogan has closed down malls and entertainment centers. He said last week that the state is trying to avoid more drastic measures including curfews, travel bans, and shelter in place orders.
“We’re not at that point yet,” said Gov. Hogan, adding, “We’re trying to avoid locking down society, and we’re trying to keep things as normal as possible.”
Despite Gov. Hogan attempting to avoid ‘draconian measures’ to enforce social distancing to combat the virus, there are some signs the local economy is grinding to a halt.
Baltimore realtor R.J. Breeden, the owner of The Breeden Group of RE/MAX Sails, said: “residents in Baltimore saw National Guard troops across the Inner Harbor district last week.” He said it reminded him of “the 2015 Baltimore Riots.”
Breeden said the service economy of the Inner Harbor has ground to a halt because of new social distancing rules, which he added, that “would severely pressure the local economy.”
He warned, “coronavirus has already created a lot of uncertainty for small businesses and will spillover and hit the incomes of residents, that could force many to delay home buying.”
Breeden said he is “seriously considering telepresence robots with large iPads” that would allow his real estate team to practice social distancing rules while continuing to run open houses during the virus crisis.
Baltimore is the only region in the country that has experienced a form of Martial Law in the last five or so years. Is round two next?