Many Maryland hospitals are overwhelmed as Gov. Larry Hogan announces the state has surpassed 2,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations.
“As we have been projecting, our statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations have now reached record levels,” Hogan said. He added that it’s, “a surge driven primarily by unvaccinated patients. It cannot be stressed enough that getting vaccinated and getting boosted are your strongest possible defenses against this virus and its variants.”
Earlier in December, Maryland established a surge operations center to optimize bed capacity and fully utilize the alternate care sites kept in place.
“Under a state health directive, hospitals are required to implement pandemic plans to suspend elective surgeries and manage their patient census,” Hogan said.
Maryland started to distribute 500,000 at-home rapid test kits last month through local health departments and the BWI Airport and have also expanded the days and hours of state-run testing sites, and encouraged local health departments to do the same.
Maryland Hospital Association President and CEO Bob Atlas told WTOP that the organization is asking the Governor for a limited public health emergency for health care, health care services and health care staffing.
“The statewide number of COVID inpatients at Maryland hospitals is spiking quickly,” Atlas said. “Maryland had a full PHE in place for a year and a half, when things were not as dire as they are now. We respectfully ask the Governor and Secretary of Health to help the hospitals by offering the flexibilities and liabilities a limited PHE offers.”
Shareese DeLeaver-Churchill, Hogan’s press secretary, responded to this request, saying, “this is the hospitalization surge the state has been projecting and planning for over the last several weeks. As part of that planning, an emergency health order is already in place for flexibility to manage bed capacity and patient transfers.”
Prince George’s County Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter announced that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the county increased 27% since last week, reaching over 200 patients on Monday for the first time since February.
“Please utilize urgent care facilities or your primary care physician for minor ailments or needs and avoid coming into a hospital within the County seeking a COVID-19 test or treatment for non-emergency illness,” Carter said.
He cited CDC studies that now show hospitalized COVID-19 patients are 17 times more likely to be unvaccinated, while individuals who have not received a booster dose are 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those who have received a booster dose.
“As your Health Officer, I am imploring every Prince Georgian five years of age or older to — as soon as possible — get vaccinated against COVID-19 and get a booster dose if you are 16 or older; it will save your life,” Carter said. “The more people who are vaccinated and boosted will help ease the growing strain on the ability of hospitals to provide timely, high-quality care to patients with or without COVID-19.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, two hospitals in Maryland including CalvertHealth medical Center and White Oak Medical Center were on “reroute” alert and 12 hospitals in Maryland were on “red alert” meaning the hospital has no ECG monitored beds available.
WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report.