Maryland is allocating $70 million toward preparing for a potentially devastating winter season as the state and the nation brace for another wave of COVID-19.
Case numbers have been spiking statewide, with Maryland’s overall positivity rate at 5.65%, and the seven-day average at over 1,400 cases and rising.
Though leaders in Montgomery County called for Gov. Larry Hogan to issue statewide mandates, the governor did not indicate that he would be doing so Thursday, though he stressed that counties have the power to impose their own restrictions that go beyond what is in place on the state level.
Hogan said the funding comes from the federal CARES Act and will go toward preparing the state for the fallout of another wave of the virus:
- $20 million for stockpiling personal protective equipment — Hogan said much of Maryland already has a 90-day stockpile of PPE, but still more may be needed
- $15 million for the Maryland Department of Labor to be used on staffing and programs within the department
- $10 million in rental housing assistance for low-income tenants
- $10 million has been allocated to purchase supplies necessary for the rollout of a vaccine in the state
- $10 million is being given to food banks in the state
- $2 million has been designated to the Department of Human Services
- $2 million in supplemental funds will go to foster care providers
- $1 million will be given to a wastewater sampling program that aims to detect COVID-19 outbreaks in vulnerable populations.
Hogan said that the lack of action from the federal level on delivering more coronavirus relief has put a serious strain on businesses within the state.
“Our leaders in Washington, on both sides of the aisle, need to put the politics aside, do their jobs and get this done for the American people,” he said.
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Hogan also said that Novavax, a company which is working on a COVID-19 vaccine based in Maryland, has received a fast-track designation from the Food and Drug Administration for their vaccine, though it could be well into 2021 by the time it is rolled out.
Hogan gave some insight as to how the state plans to roll out its vaccine, saying the first batch would go to the people most vulnerable to becoming infected: first responders, medical workers, elderly residents and other front-line workers.
On a personal note, Hogan said he has drastically changed his plans for Thanksgiving Day in order to prevent the spread of the virus. Initially, he was going to have his three daughters, his sons-in-law and his four grandchildren over to the Governor’s Mansion for the holiday, but those plans have been canceled.
“Everybody’s gonna stay home with their immediate families, and the first lady and I will be having hopefully dinner together by ourselves,” Hogan said.