Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan debuted a long-term COVID-19 preparedness plan Thursday that seeks to expand treatments and tools available to the state’s residents.
At a news conference, Hogan said COVIDReady Maryland will keep residents who contract COVID-19 healthy and out of the hospital, while maintaining a state of readiness against future, potentially more infectious variants or outbreaks.
“In my State of the State Address back in February, my message to Marylanders was that we must all learn to live with the virus, not to live in fear of it,” Hogan said. “Our state public health response has now fully transitioned from an emergency into an ongoing operation of state government.”
In a bid to keep future hospitalizations down, Hogan announced an expansion of the state’s Test to Treat infrastructure — part of a nationwide federal initiative seeking to match vulnerable patients who’ve just tested positive with effective prescriptions in the same visit.
The Maryland Department of Health has also launched a web portal with which residents can check whether their vaccination and booster status is up to date, according to the latest health guidance. If not, they’ll be presented with information on how to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Jinlene Chan, executive director of the Maryland Primary Care Program, said the state is poised to begin vaccinating children under 5 years of age, pending federal approval. Chan said the state recently completed a pre-order for 65,400 doses.
The White House expects children under 5 could be able to get their first vaccine dose as soon as June 21.
The Food and Drug Administration’s outside panel of advisers will meet on June 14 and 15 to evaluate the Pfizer and Moderna shots for younger kids. Shipments to doctors’ offices and pediatric care facilities would begin soon after FDA authorization, with the first shots possible the following week.
The federal government has an initial supply of 10 million doses available.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.