Maryland and Ohio officials have announced that schools in their states will be closed for several weeks amid concerns about the coronavirus. The statewide closures come after many school districts and dozens of colleges and universities have temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 disease.
According to an analysis from Education Week, as of Thursday evening, "at least 10,600 schools have been closed or are scheduled to close, affecting at least 4.9 million students." That is a small but quickly growing fraction of the approximately 50 million students in K-12 public and private schools in the United States.
Twelve people have tested positive for the virus in Maryland, though according to state officials, three have already made a full recovery. Five have tested positive in Ohio.
In Maryland, the decision to close public schools for two weeks was prompted by a patient in his 60s outside Washington, D.C., who tested positive for the disease with no known exposure to it from travel or a previously known infected individual. That suggests it is spreading within the community.
"The circumstances of this case indicate that we are entering a new phase of this crisis in our state," Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan told reporters. "We should expect the number of cases to dramatically and rapidly rise. Our primary focus is now turning from containment to aggressively working to mitigate and limit the spread of the virus."