Hogan: ‘Worst part of this entire crisis is still ahead of us’ in Maryland

Amid an intensifying surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan has announced a series of measures to ensure the state is prepared.

“The projections say that we are not near the peak yet,” Hogan said, “and that the worst part of this entire crisis is still ahead of us over the next month or two.”

During a briefing Tuesday, he announced a new recruitment website for health care professionals, MarylandMedNow.com, to boost the state’s capacity for screening, testing and treatment.

“We’re currently in need of people with clinical backgrounds to work at our hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics across the state,” Hogan said.

Also, Maryland hospitals now have a week to get a plan ready for the looming surge.

“We currently have 6,816 Marylanders in our state’s hospitals,” Hogan said. “If and when we reach 8,000 hospitalizations statewide, all hospitals will be required to expand their staffed bed capacity by 10% within seven days.”

And as state officials contact those who signed up for its medical reserve corps, it’s also encouraging colleges and universities to let some advanced health care students be eligible for early exit so they can add to the state’s care capacity.

Available school nurses will also be deployed, Hogan said, and hospitals and nursing homes will be encouraged to let unlicensed staffers handle some less-critical tasks to free up nurses.

“The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our health care system and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our health care workers, who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress,” Hogan said.

In the last 24 hours, Maryland has seen 56 new reported hospitalizations; 1,583 Marylanders are currently hospitalized with COVID, which is the highest total since mid-May.

At last count, 4,516 Marylanders have died from COVID-19. An emotional Hogan said the most recent victims include the youngest so far, a 1-year-old boy.

A senior medical adviser to the governor, Dr. David Marcozzi, expressed concern that the next few months will be “challenging” due to the volume of travel that occurred around the Thanksgiving holiday.

“It’s easy to just think about the impact of this virus as something abstract or inconvenient that will run its course, like a few bad weeks of winter weather,” Marcozzi said. “But let me be clear: There is no ceiling to this — or at least one we do not want to test.”

Marylanders were urged to do their part to limit the spread.

“What we do as individuals will stop the rising case counts and slow the spread,” Marcozzi said. “We did it before. And we can do it again.”

Tuesday’s briefing came amid new hopes of another round of pandemic assistance, and Hogan urged Washington to get it approved.

“We simply cannot wait until January 20th for this urgently needed relief,” he said.

More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

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Jack Pointer

Jack contributes to WTOP.com when he's not working as the afternoon/evening radio writer.

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