WASHINGTON — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan confirmed Friday that the three Montgomery County residents who tested positive for the coronavirus had traveled together on an MS A'Sara Egyptian cruise on the Nile River.
Hogan also noted that the patients had at least two instances of public interactions that he felt warranted public notification, including a visit on Feb. 29 to a Rockville retirement community and an event in Philadelphia with children and staff from a local school district.
But public health officials said the impact of coronavirus goes beyond Montgomery County. Those in neighboring cities and counties tell WUSA9 they are on alert and want to know exactly where the three people went before getting treated.
"It is a fluid situation," D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said after she bumped elbows instead of shaking hands at a groundbreaking ceremony less than 24 hours after coronavirus cases were confirmed in Maryland. "We don’t have any confirmed cases [in D.C.] but our preparation process is that we will likely have confirmed cases," Bowser said.
The District said it is in constant contact with Montgomery County, ready to help with contact tracing. D.C’s head of homeland security said that it will build a timeline of other places and people who might have been infected. On Friday, D.C. tested nine people for coronavirus with one test still pending.
"It’s difficult, but contact tracing needs to be done with folks who may have been exposed to coronavirus," Dr. Christopher Rodriguez of the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency said.
Boris Lushniak, dean of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, called contact tracing a "mystery" that takes time, acknowledging that state health officials will not immediately know where the patients spent time. Montgomery County officials insist the state is working expeditiously because there is a potential for more cases.
"This is a process," Lushniak said. "The process is a vibrant one and it is unfolding. Individuals who may have been affected by these three are being contacted and sought out, and it takes a while to do that."
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