State of Maryland Surpasses 2,000 COVID-19 Hospitalizations, Governor Hogan Provides Update on Ongoing Emergency Actions
“As we have been projecting, our statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations have now reached record levels and surpassed 2,000—a surge driven primarily by unvaccinated patients. It cannot be stressed enough that getting vaccinated and getting boosted are your strongest possible defenses against this virus and its variants.
“With hospitalizations and deaths our primary focus, we have already taken a number of emergency actions in preparation for this surge. Earlier this month, we established a surge operations center to optimize bed capacity and fully utilize the alternate care sites we have kept in place. We have worked closely with our licensing boards to augment the healthcare workforce, and we have committed an additional $100 million for hospitals and nursing homes to address urgent staffing needs. Under a state health directive, hospitals are required to implement pandemic plans to suspend elective surgeries and manage their patient census. Whatever resources hospital systems have requested, we are providing.
“Last month, in anticipation of an increased demand for testing, we began to distribute 500,000 at-home rapid test kits through local health departments and BWI Airport. We have also expanded the days and hours of state-run testing sites, and encouraged local health departments to do the same. We have made an additional $30 million in funding available to school systems to enhance their own testing resources. I have mobilized the Maryland National Guard to stand up multiple surge testing sites, and directed state health officials to take whatever steps are necessary to acquire additional at-home rapid test kits. We have been calling on the federal government to do more to expand the availability of testing—including invoking the Defense Production Act—but as the president himself has acknowledged, those efforts have fallen short. Regardless, we will do all we can at the state level to further scale up testing operations.
“In coordination with our lab partners at the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University, we continue to be among the national leaders in using genomic sequencing to track and detect variants of COVID-19. Earlier this month, we took steps to further expand the state’s sequencing capacity.
“Lastly, we continue to have one of the most aggressive booster shot campaigns in the country. The booster shots provide the strongest protection against the highly transmissible Omicron variant. The most important thing Marylanders can do is get boosted now.
“Again, this is not March of 2020. It’s important to use common sense and take precautions, but we have the tools, resources, and strategies in place to protect ourselves. We are closely monitoring this surge, and will continue to provide updates as additional actions are taken.”