As Baltimore Locks Down, Military Vehicles and Troops Appear on City Streets
The Maryland National Guard has been deployed to the city of Baltimore in preparation to assist local authorities with humanitarian aid, as city leaders express frustration that citizens are refusing to follow orders to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
City leaders told The Baltimore Sun on Friday that many citizens and businesses in the community have defied mandates by state and local officials prohibiting all social gatherings.
While citizens have yet to receive a “shelter-in-place” order, the city is quickly locking down, and a ban on all nonessential travel might not be far off.
“It is frustrating and shortsighted to see some disregarding the safety of their neighbors and risking the spread of COVID-19 for the purpose of socializing,” Baltimore Police Chief Melissa Hyatt said in a statement.
“We have a duty to enforce the law within the authority that we are granted for the community to understand the magnitude of this pandemic,” Hyatt added.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has prohibited social gatherings of more than 10 people and also ordered many nonessential businesses to close, as The Sun reported.
Yet many individuals and businesses in the city, despite warnings about the potential public health threat posed by the coronavirus, have defied the order to self-isolate.
“These are not recommendations; these are lifesaving measures that we will enforce,” Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. said in a statement.
“These measures are necessary because we continue to see selfish and reckless behavior that jeopardizes the health and well-being of our loved ones, friends and neighbors,” Olszewski added.
Baltimore police spokeswoman Vickie Warehime, meanwhile, told The Sun the department “has been responding to reports of large social gatherings, mostly of teenagers, but also had to shut down some smaller gyms that remained open despite Hogan’s order.”
“If you do violate the governor’s orders, we’re ready to take action,” Warehime told the newspaper.
The presence of military vehicles in the streets of the city was reported Friday on Twitter and later by local media.
— Peter R. Quinones (@PeterRQuinones) March 20, 2020
Military vehicles spotted in downtown Baltimore, near the stadiums… pic.twitter.com/YDwCUKJ51p
— FOX Baltimore (@FOXBaltimore) March 20, 2020
The Maryland National Guard attempted to quell rumors of a coming declaration of martial law.
“To our neighbors, there is not a threat of martial law,” the guard’s verified Twitter account posted.
“If you see a @MDNG Humvee on your street, know we are helping someone in need! Whether it’s delivering much needed supplies or setting up tents for health screening stations, we are working for you!”
To our neighbors, there is not a threat of martial law.
If you see a @MDNG Humvee on your street, know we are helping someone in need! Whether it’s delivering much needed supplies or setting up tents for health screening stations, we are working for you!https://t.co/CoD3ycAQ39
— MD National Guard (@MDNG) March 20, 2020
WBFF reported the guard is staging as a precaution and its members are ready to carry out humanitarian missions.
“The Guard’s deployment helps provide resources we need to support the work being done to keep Baltimore healthy,” Baltimore Mayor Jack Young said in a statement.
“I am confident that the deployment of the National Guard will help ensure Baltimore City has everything it needs to fully address COVID-19. I would like to thank Governor Hogan for working closely with,” Young added.
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