Over $2 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan is being used to address staffing and other health care needs in Howard County, Maryland, as it deals with the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
County Executive Calvin Ball committed $2.4 million total to support the effort, sending $2 million to Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) and $400,000 to the Howard County Health Department.
“This latest COVID-19 surge caused by variants is overwhelming, and our healthcare workers, those on the frontlines, our EMS and paramedics are exhausted,” Ball said in a statement. “It is paramount that we invest in our healthcare workers, and our public health system, to retain our frontline employees and support them through this crisis.”
Early challenges with the Omicron variant lead officials to believe hospitalizations at Howard County General Hospital will reach concerning levels, the statement said.
Howard County General Hospital saw a 411% increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19 from mid-December to early January. Sixty-three of those hospitalized with the virus are in Acute Care and the ICU. County residents also have a current positivity rate of 30%, or an average of 165 cases per 100,000 residents, according to the state’s Department of Health.
For a frame of reference, Howard County’s positivity rate was just under 4% one month ago, with a case rate of approximately 10 per 100,000. And the hospital only had seven COVID-19 patients Acute Care and the ICU in early December.
The funds being sent to the county’s health department will go toward testing, contact tracing, vaccination clinics and other public health needs.
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