Gov. Larry Hogan is expanding hours at testing sites and urging Marylanders to get boosters as hospitalizations are projected to reach a pandemic-high of 2,000 early next year.
If the predicted number of hospitalizations is correct, it will exceed Maryland’s peak of 1,950 hospitalizations last January, according to Dr. Ted Delbridge, the executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.
The Maryland National Guard is being mobilized to expand hours at testing sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties, Hogan also said Tuesday, to help meet demand. The state will provide school systems will $30 million in additional funding to buy tests.
“So many of us are undoubtedly feeling déjà vu. I want to urge Marylanders not to panic,” Hogan said.
“This is not March of 2020. We have the tools and resources in place to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We must remain vigilant. We cannot let our guard down.”
The updates come after Hogan tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday; he hosted the news conference from the governor’s house and said he’s experiencing cold-like symptoms.
Hogan is also introducing emergency legislation to help hospital systems, including $100 million of additional funding to address staffing shortages at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes.
Of that additional funding, $50 million will go to hospitals and nursing hopes to expand COVID testing, treatments and vaccines. The other $50 million will be used to stabilize hospitals’ workforce and staffing needs.
Hogan said all nursing homes will offer COVID-19 therapeutic treatments to residents during an outbreak.
Heath officials are following a new directive as some reach capacity. Hogan said if hospitalizations reach 1,200, then some non-urgent medical procedures will be reduced. If hospitalizations reach 1,500, hospitals will implement their pandemic plans.
But, Hogan said, the state can only do so much.
“We also need the federal government step up and do whatever it takes, including invoking the Defense Production Act to dramatically expand the availability of testing to the American people,” Hogan said. “Every American who wants a test should be able to get it fast.”
Hogan’s announcements come as he said hospitalizations have reached 1,392, an increase of 180% in the last month.
Delbridge said that 75% of hospital emergency departments are currently alerting Maryland’s emergency medical services system that they’re at capacity and should be avoided if at all possible.
Hospitalizations are expected to peak in mid- to late January. Hogan said this is the same time period the flu is expected to peak.
The state is administering more than 50,000 tests per day.
Hogan said the state has administered over 10 million vaccines.
The remaining 9% of Maryland adults who aren’t vaccinated make up more than 75% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state.
“I know that there’s been confusing guidance from the federal government on this,” Hogan said. “But what with what we know about these dangerous variants, nobody should think of a booster as just a bonus or an extra dose.”
The University of Maryland medical center is expected to surpass the highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations since the start of this pandemic during the new surge, said Dr. David Marcozzi, a professor at the university’s school of medicine and the incident commander for the medical system.
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