empty parking lot
© Reuters / Mary Calvert
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has issued a stay-at-home order for state residents, warning that violations are punishable by fines of $5,000, a year's prison time, or both, the heftiest sentence yet as states strengthen penalties.

Hogan effectively locked down Maryland residents on Monday, declaring that as of 8pm that night leaving one's home for any other reason than "an essential job or for an essential reason such as obtaining food or medicine, seeking urgent medical attention or for other necessary purposes" would incur the steep punishment.

The stay-at-home order includes a ban on gatherings of more than 10 people and the closure of all "non-essential" businesses, echoing similar decrees by other states and cities. However, while New York City and Chicago have adopted $500 fines for repeat violators of the six-foot "social distancing" rule, their punishments are a slap on the wrist compared to Hogan's sentence.

"This is a deadly public health crisis," the governor explained at a press conference. "We are no longer asking or suggesting that Marylanders stay home. We are directing them to do so."

Maryland has 1,414 diagnosed cases of coronavirus, while 16 people have died of the disease. The state reported 174 new cases on Monday. Total cases in the US number 144,146, with 2,572 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.