Maryland will require state employees working in congregate facilities to be vaccinated or submit to regular COVID-19 testing and mask-use beginning Sept. 1, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday.
Hogan said the measures will impact state employees in 48 facilities, including: health care facilities of the Mayland Department of Health, facilities of Department of Juvenile Services, the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made a similar announcement Thursday.
A spokeswoman for D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Thursday that Bowser continues to engage labor partners, but hasn’t mandated vaccination for city government employees at this point.
“These actions are being taken to further protect our most vulnerable citizens,” Hogan said. “The state will lead by example with our own employees who are working in congregate facilities.”
The governor urged privately-run nursing homes to implement the same requirements among their staff, saying there has been a recent uptick in unvaccinated employees in nursing homes contracting COVID-19.
Hogan said there are no plans to institute new mask mandates or shutdowns.
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Like several governors around the country, Hogan laid the blame for the current uptick in COVID-19 cases at the feet of those who refuse to get vaccinated.
“Nearly every single person hospitalized or dying with COVID-19 in Maryland right now is unvaccinated. Those of you who refuse to get vaccinated at this point, are willfully and unnecessarily putting yourself and others at risk of hospitalization and death,” he said. “You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us — the freedom not to wear masks, to keep our businesses open, and to get our kids back in school.”
Deputy Secretary for the Maryland Department of Health, Dr. Jinlene Chan, said breakthrough cases — in which a fully-vaccinated individual contracts COVID-19 — remain uncommon in the state, accounting for less than 4% of overall COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths.
“In other words … about 96% of all cases cumulative since the beginning of the year are among those who are unvaccinated,” she said. “So to emphasize that — COVID-19 vaccines were designed to prevent severe disease and death. And that is exactly what they are doing.”
Maryland will be adding a section to their coronavirus dashboard that will track breakthrough cases. It will be updated every Wednesday with the latest case numbers.
“We’ll be doing this to further show how vaccines continue to be the most effective and critical tool that we have in preventing COVID-19 infections, serious illness, hospitalizations and deaths,” Chan said.
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