EASTON — Since Gov. Larry Hogan’s statewide stay-at-home order went into effect nearly seven weeks ago on March 30, the Talbot County Sheriff’s Office criminally charged a total of two residents who violated the directive.
Lt. Steve Elliott said in an interview Thursday, May 14, the two violators were juveniles who were caught burglarizing a home. He said they subsequently were charged with burglary and violating the governor’s executive order.
Other residents were confronted by officers for questionable conduct during the stay-at-home order, but the encounters did not result in citations because the officers’ collective goal “was never to charge people for violating the order,” Elliott said.
“Our goal was just to give people a warning and tell them to be safe, to try to do their part to make sure we don’t spread this thing all over the county,” he said.
While the Talbot sheriff’s office didn’t have to take a significant amount of enforcement actions against stay-at-home violators, the county did see an increase in reported verbal domestic abuse incidents.
Elliott didn’t confirm the number of reports officers received during the seven-week span, but he said they were mostly “people being stuck together in the house, arguing and fighting.”
One metric that went down during the stay-at-home order, though, was reported overdoses in the county, with a total of six since the end of March and 10 since the beginning of 2020.
Elliott said the county averages 40 overdose calls every year, so having a total of 10 overdoses reported nearly halfway through the year is a notable decrease.
He attributed the decline to people not wanting to travel to buy drugs, adding, “As bad as it is in Baltimore and across the bridge, who wants to go up there and get their stuff and risk becoming infected?”
“Oddly enough, I’d assume people were more worried about the virus than they were the heroin,” Elliott said. “Maybe they’re staying home and doing (drugs), and if they are overdosing, we’re not being notified.”
Plus, he said, the overdose numbers likely were down because fewer people were traveling out of the area, so the county eliminated those who “travel through, stop in a restaurant and go into the bathroom and shoot up.”
As Maryland prepares to shift now from being forced to stay home under legal threat to a “safer at home” public health advisory that began at 5 p.m. Friday, May 15, Elliott said he thinks people in Talbot County will continue to stay home as much as possible and take precautions.
“You’re going to see people wearing masks and gloves, because this thing isn’t over. It’s going to come back,” he said. “I think a lot of people are fed up with being in their house and they want to get out, but now the burden’s on them.
“If they want to go out and take the risk, then that burden’s on them.”