All workers in Maryland hospitals and nursing home facilities will be required to show proof of full vaccination or submit to regular COVID-19 screening and testing, Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday.
Hogan said nursing homes across Maryland have an average staff vaccination rate over 70%, but that some have fallen behind and have rates as low as 40%, calling it “unacceptable,” and saying they were endangering lives.
Nursing home and hospital staff in Maryland must receive their first dose of a vaccine by Sept. 1, Hogan said.
The governor also said the state would be more aggressive in the enforcement of the mandate, and nursing homes that fail to comply would be subject to higher fines and tougher civil penalties.
“In the coming days and weeks ahead, we will continue to do what we have always done since day one of this crisis: We will keep following the science, and keep taking measured, balanced, data-driven approach in our efforts to respond to this pandemic,” Hogan said.
Joe Demattos, president of the Health Facilities Association of Maryland, thanked Hogan for the steps he was taking to ensure the safety of hospital and nursing home patients.
“Vaccination remains the single best tool to fight COVID-19, avoid hospitalization and avoid death,” Demattos said. “With these mandates, we’ll all do better and as we face this surge — which promises to be extremely challenging in the community at large and across health care — because of these mandates, we’ll save more lives.”
The Biden administration is expected to put a similar mandate in place for nursing home staff nationwide, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Maryland calls for a wider-spread rollout of booster shots
Hogan said the state has been preparing for the wider utilization of third-dose booster shots for the COVID-19 vaccine. Currently, the third dose is reserved for the immunocompromised, but Hogan said his administration is calling on the federal government to include seniors and nursing home seniors.
“Rather than wait until the fall, we believe that the federal government should make booster shots available immediately for seniors and other vulnerable populations,” Hogan said.
In preparation for the boosters, Hogan said the state has rolled out a program that will test nursing home residents’ antibody levels. He said the data the program collects will be vital to figure out where booster shots are needed. A pilot program will begin with 500 nursing home residents.
The governor said there are currently no plans to reactivate any of the state’s mass vaccination sites, saying there was enough vaccine availability around the state without them.
Hogan also said he would like to see a full FDA approval of the COVID-19 vaccines in the near future.
Hogan’s full presentation can be found online.
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