BALTIMORE (WJZ) – With a surge in COVID-19 patients pushing Maryland’s hospitals to the brink, Governor Larry Hogan announced a plan to spend $100 million in emergency funding Tuesday to bolster the state’s health workforce.
Hogan pledged $50 million in funding for staffing efforts at hospitals across the state. He said the remaining $50 million will go to hospitals and nursing homes so they can expand their access to COVID-19 tests, vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments.
“This emergency capital injection is to allow hospital and nursing home staff to increase immediately,” the governor said in a public statement Tuesday.
Additionally, Hogan said state-run test sites in Annapolis and Prince George County will expand their operations to six days a week, and he is mobilizing the Maryland National Guard to assist in those locations.
Hogan said the state is making 500,000 home testing kits available statewide through local health departments and providing $30 million to schools to purchase testing kits.
The urgent actions come as Maryland’s hospitals grapple with a rising number of COVID-19 hospitalizations, most of them unvaccinated people. On Tuesday, The Maryland Department of Health reports that 1,392 patients are being treated at hospitals across the state for COVID-19.
Last week, Hospitals have been instructed to free up beds and avoid scheduling non-emergency surgeries after Maryland passed 1,200 hospitalizations. If that total hits 1,500, the governor said, hospitals will implement their pandemic plans.
Hogan said Maryland is testing more than 50,000 people a day, and officials are working to scale that operation. But saying there’s only so much the state can do, he urged the federal government to do everything in its power to help.
“Every American who wants a test can take a test,” he said. “In addition to getting tested, we still need the last remaining Marylanders to get vaccinated.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91% of Marylanders 18 years of age and older have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Our team will continue to work around the clock to get more shots and reach the last 9% of adults in Maryland, because right now, that remaining 9% is responsible for more than 75% of our COVID-19 hospitalizations, spurred the governor to say.
He encouraged people to buy boosters if they haven’t already, and said people shouldn’t consider them “additional” or “supplemental” doses of vaccine.
“I want to urge Marylanders not to panic,” Hogan said. “This is not March 2020. We have the tools and resources at our disposal to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We must always be vigilant and not let go.”
The number of COVID-19 patients in Maryland has doubled since early December, said Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Health Services.
Dr. Delbridge said that nearly one-fifth of patients at Maryland’s hospitals are being treated for COVID-19 and nearly one-third of patients in state intensive care units have COVID-19. He said three-quarters of the state’s emergency rooms say they are operating at full capacity.
“We anticipate that hospitalizations will continue to rise and potentially surpass Maryland’s peak of 1,952 in January of last year,” he said.
Only this time, Delbridge said, were there new challenges. He said when doctors, nurses and other medical staff leave the field, there will be fewer people to take care of patients around this time.
Delbridge said vaccines and booster shots remain the best tools suggested by the Marylanders to protect themselves and their loved ones. He said most of the COVID-19 hospitalizations were among those who weren’t vaccinated.
“Now, while some people who get vaccinated get sick and need to be hospitalized, they’re in the minority,” says Delbridge. “Over 70%, depending on the hospital, COVID-19 patients have never been vaccinated. I cannot stress enough the life-saving importance of vaccines.”
https://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2021/12/22/hogan-pledges-100m-in-emergency-funding-to-shore-up-marylands-hospitals/ Hogan pledges $100 million in emergency funding to build hospitals in Maryland – CBS Baltimore