ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan’s voice quivered and he struggled to deliver sad news that Maryland has lost its youngest victim, a 1-year-old boy, to COVID-19.
As of Tuesday morning, Maryland surpassed 201,135 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including an additional 2,765 cases, 30 deaths and 56 hospitalizations from the virus in the past 24 hours.
“We’ve had 27 straight days with more than 1,000 new cases,” Hogan said.
The state is “laser-focused” on taking actions to prevent the overburdening of the state’s health care system, he said.
Maryland’s COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased by 51% in the last two weeks, 350 people are in intensive care units and 21 hospitals in the state have reached more than 90% of their capacity.
“We can expect to reach a new record high for hospitalizations in the coming days,” Hogan said.
Maryland needs people with clinical backgrounds to work in hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics across the state. Anyone interested should visit marylandmednow.com.
Maryland universities and colleges are asked to immediately develop emergency policies and procedures that will award academic credit to students willing to serve in health care during the pandemic.
“And we’re encouraging our colleges and universities to allow health care students who are in their final semester and have satisfied all graduation requirements to be eligible for early exit and expedited testing and licensing requirements in order to more expeditiously enter the workforce,” Hogan said.
The state also urges its counties to tap all non-deployed school nurses, health services staff and other employees to help staff testing and vaccination sites.
Effective immediately, hospitals are also required to submit to the state health department a surge plan that includes detailed strategies for hospital bed and staffing capacity expansions by Dec. 8.
“We currently have 6,816 Marylanders in our state hospitals,” Hogan said. “When we reach the 8,000 total hospitalization statewide, all hospitals will be required to expand their staff by at least 10% within seven days.”
‘Get it done’
If Congress does nothing else, passes no other legislation and can only accomplish one thing during the lame duck session, it must be to pass the stimulus relief package, Hogan said.
Small businesses and struggling families are in desperate need of help, he said.
“Every day, I hear from small business owners who say that without this help, they may not be able to keep their doors open through the end of the year,” Hogan said.
CARES Act funding will run out at the end of this month.
Hogan said his message to everyone in Congress, on both sides of the aisle, is clear.
“We simply cannot wait until January 20th for this urgently needed relief,” he said. “Get this done once and for all for the American people.”
Yesterday, Hogan met with Vice President Mike Pence, the Coronavirus Task Force, and others regarding vaccine distribution. The governor also met with the Maryland Coronavirus Task Force and many hospital system CEOs across the state.
Health personnel announcements
Hogan made the following personnel announcements:
- With Maryland Secretary of Health Bobby Neall retiring, Hogan appointed Dennis Schrader, the department’s chief operating officer, as acting secretary. Schrader continues to lead the department’s hospital surge operations.
- Dr. David Marcozzi, COVID-19 incident commander for the University of Maryland Medical System, will serve on a volunteer basis as a senior medical COVID-19 advisor to the governor. Marcozzi is also a member of the Maryland Coronavirus Task Force.
- Acting Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Dr. Jinlene Chan will lead Maryland’s vaccination acquisition and distribution efforts.
Local cases surge
According to the Maryland Department of Health Tuesday, the statewide daily COVID-19 positive case rate was 7.33%, with Garrett and Allegany counties nearly doubling that figure at 15.36% and 14.38% respectively.
Allegany County continued its weeks-long trend of leading the state’s seven-day moving average case rate per 100,000 people by jurisdiction at 136.94, followed by Garrett County at 123.59, compared to the statewide figure of 34.44.
The Allegany County Health Department Monday reported 221 newly diagnosed COVID-19 infections and a dozen fatalities, raising the county’s cumulative case count to 2,804 and the death toll to 73.
ACHD offers free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Allegany County Fairgrounds from 2 to 7 p.m. Mondays, and 8 a.m to 2 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays.
No insurance, appointment or doctor’s order is needed to obtain a test.
The Garrett County Health Department Monday reported 76 additional positive COVID-19 results and one additional death since the last report on Friday, bringing the current county total positives to 778 and deaths to five.
“The staff of the Garrett County Health Department extends our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of those who have lost their lives during the pandemic,” Garrett County Health Officer Bob Stephens said via press release.
The breakdown of new Garrett cases by age range was:
- 15.8% (12 case) ages 0-20
- 23.7% (18 cases) ages 21-40
- 23.7% (18 cases) ages 41-60
- 18.4% (14 cases) ages 61-80
18.4% (14 cases) ages 81-100+
GCHD is holding free COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursdays at the MEDCO Building in the McHenry Business Park located off Bumble Bee Road between Hart for Animals and the Garrett County Airport.
There is no out-of-pocket cost to get a COVID-19 test at the site, and appointments and doctors’ orders are not required.
“It is critical that all persons waiting to be tested wear a face covering that fully covers their mouth and nose,” the release states.