As omicron becomes dominant variant, Md. works to get more rapid tests

Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 variant in Maryland, and the state is working to get more of those hard-to-find rapid COVID-19 test kits.

Hogan provided an update on the state’s ongoing fight against the virus during a Board of Public Works meeting.

Over the last month, the state has been expanding its sequencing of COVID-19 variants.

“According to the University of Maryland’s Institute for Genome Sciences, 88% of all recently analyzed samples tested positive for the omicron variant,” Hogan said.

He went on to share new statistics from the University of Maryland Medical System.

“Seventy-four percent of their hospitalized COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated individuals,” Hogan said. “The most important data point that we found is that only 2% of all of the COVID patients in all of their hospitals over the past 30 days are people who had received booster shots.”

Hogan stressed the importance of getting a booster shot as quickly as possible.

On Tuesday, Hogan took part in a White House COVID-19 briefing with governors from across the country. He said one of the things they discussed was a serious national shortage of at-home rapid test kits.

“It appears that it will still be many weeks before the federal government is able to begin distributing more tests,” Hogan said.

His administration is taking its own action.

“We’re currently working on numerous emergency procurements to deal with the multiple emergency actions related to the crisis, including the acquisition of as many of these rapid tests as we can possibly acquire from multiple different sources,” Hogan said.

Last month, Maryland started distributing one million rapid COVID-19 tests through state-run testing sites and local health departments.

As for COVID-19 PCR tests, Hogan said Maryland has an “abundant” supply.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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