ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday announced that the state will open three additional mass COVID-19 vaccination sites in March, giving Maryland at least one in each region of the state. The state’s vaccination rate hit a record high 35,730 shots per day.
“The pace of daily vaccination is hitting a new high every day, a third safe and effective vaccine is now available, a next potential fourth vaccine is in Phase 3 clinical trials, which is also being made right here in Maryland at Novavax in Gaithersburg,” said Governor Hogan. “We are using every tool at our disposal to get shots into arms, and we will not rest until a vaccine is available to every Marylander who wants one, so that we can bring this pandemic to an end once and for all.”
ROBERT REDFIELD, SENIOR ADVISER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH
Governor Hogan announced that former CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield will serve as senior adviser for public health to support the state’s public health response to COVID-19, including the emergence of new variants; the statewide vaccination campaign; and Maryland’s science-based plan for fully and safely reopening the state.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON UPDATE
Maryland is receiving an initial allocation of 49,600 doses of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) vaccine and 100% of these doses will be deployed across the state this week, including to mass vaccination sites, hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies, and local health departments. However, the federal government has informed states that it will not ship out any Johnson & Johnson vaccine next week.
MASS VACCINATION SITES
By the end of March, the state will have at least one mass vaccination site in each region of the state that is capable of administering thousands of shots per day.
SOUTHERN MARYLAND: The governor announced that the state will open the Southern Maryland mass vaccination site at Regency Furniture Stadium on Thursday, March 4—one week ahead of schedule. Initial appointments will be made available starting this evening.
EASTERN SHORE: The governor announced that the Eastern Shore mass vaccination site at Wicomico Youth & Civic Center in Salisbury will open no later than Thursday, March 18. Tidal Health will serve as the site’s clinical partner.
WESTERN MARYLAND: The governor announced that the Western Maryland mass vaccination site will be located at the Hagerstown Premium Outlets and will open by the end of the month. Meritus Hospital will serve as the clinical partner.
BALTIMORE CITY: The governor announced that the M&T Bank Stadium mass vaccination site will ramp up ahead of schedule this week to 2,000 shots per day. The Baltimore Convention Center site will focus on underserved populations, and ramp up to more than 1,000 shots per day.
ADDITIONAL SITES: The governor announced that the state is in active discussions with those counties that have expressed an interest in hosting a mass vaccination site. Expanding the number and capacity of mass vaccination sites is entirely contingent on an increase in supply from the federal government.
ONE-WEEK THROUGHPUT PLAN
This week, the state was able to provide increases in allocations to providers, including hospitals and local health departments. The state is prepared to provide further allocation increases to providers if they can demonstrate that they have the ability to administer the doses they receive within one week.
Video and transcript from Tuesday’s press conference can be found below:
GOVERNOR HOGAN: Good afternoon. Joining me today are former CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield, Maryland Secretary of Health Dennis Schrader, and Deputy Secretary Jinlene Chan.
Last February when I convened and led a meeting of top federal officials and the nation’s governors in Washington to learn more about the potential threat of a new novel coronavirus, that briefing was led by then CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield. And I got the chance to work together with him throughout the pandemic.
When we met here in Annapolis in January shortly before he left office, I was pleased to hear that he planned to return home here to Maryland, where he cofounded the University of Maryland’s institute of human virology and served as the chief of infectious diseases and as vice chair of medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
We began discussions which resulted in our announcement today that Dr. Redfield has agreed to join our team and to serve as senior adviser for public health, where he will advise us on a wide range of immediate priorities, including planning our response to the coronavirus variants, our COVID-19 vaccine campaign, and our science-based plan for fully and safely reopening our state, as well as all areas of public health.
From the very beginning of this crisis, I have always emphasized how important it is to follow the science and to get the best advice from the medical experts, and we’re very fortunate to have such a renowned expert as Dr. Redfield, that he has returned to Maryland and that he has agreed to join our world-class team of doctors and public health experts.
With that, I’m happy to turn the podium over to Dr. Redfield.
REDFIELD: Well, thank you very much, Governor. It’s great to return to Maryland and to be able to continue to contribute and serve as a member of your team.
Over the last year I had the opportunity to observe the COVID response in many — actually all the states in our nation. And I do want to say this again, Governor Hogan, I want to congratulate you for your effective leadership which I really think has been a model for our nation.
I want also to just take a moment to encourage all Marylanders to get vaccinated when it is their turn. Vaccines are the most important gift of science to modern medicine, and today we have three approved COVID-19 vaccines, Pfizer, Moderna, and now J and J. All three of these vaccines are highly effective in preventing serious disease, hospitalization, and death.
Yesterday I had the opportunity to visit the M and T Bank Stadium vaccination site, and it was very impressive. But what was most important to me was seeing one individual after another embrace vaccine with confidence. I want to encourage all Marylanders and all Americans to embrace vaccine with confidence, for yourself and your family. This single act will help save lives, and it will allow you to do your part to help us all bring this pandemic to an end.
And finally, Governor, I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to serve. Thank you.
GOVERNOR HOGAN: Sure. Thank you, Doctor.
Maryland begins the month of March with more of our kids going back to school, more businesses reopening and expanding, and with far fewer people getting infected and hospitalized. Over the last 8 weeks our positivity rate has dropped by more than 67 percent to 3.35 percent, which is the lowest level since October 25th. Our case rate per 100,000 has dropped by more than 75 percent to 13.1, which is also the lowest rate since late October. We went from all 24 of our counties being in the federal red zone for case rates to now having 0 counties in the red zone. Our hospitalizations have dropped from nearly 2,000 to fewer than 900 for the first time since early November. The number of nursing homes with active cases has dropped by 57 percent since the peak in mid-December.
Yesterday we hit a critical milestone with more than 40 percent of Marylanders ages 65 and over having been vaccinated. One of the very first states in America to hit this mark. Maryland providers have now administered 1,362,758 vaccines, including 250,110 just over the last 7 days. We’re now averaging a new record of 35,730 shots per day, an increase of more than 1,100 percent.
We’ve administered 97.8 percent of all of the first doses we have received, and 86.4 percent of all doses that we have received from the federal government.
Friday’s FDA approval of a third safe and effective vaccine is quite literally providing a needed shot in the arm for Maryland and the rest of the country, and it was made possible by the groundbreaking cooperation between leading medical experts and pharmaceutical companies as part of the process that Dr. Robert Redfield oversaw and led at the CDC. This single-dose Johnson and Johnson vaccine is being manufactured right here in Maryland at the Emergent BioSolutions facility in east Baltimore.
For more than a month I’ve been pushing the White House to get other manufacturers to help with the production of some of these approved vaccines. I was pleased to hear on a White House official this morning on a call with the governors that Merck will now be helping to produce Johnson and Johnson vaccines, which is something we’ve been pushing for.
Maryland is receiving an initial allocation of 49,600 of Johnson and Johnson. These doses will be deployed across the state this week, including to mass vaccination sites, hospitals, community health centers, pharmacies, and local Health Departments. Providers will begin to receive their shipments of Johnson and Johnson as early as today.
I want to caution Marylanders that this is only an initial allocation. The federal government shipped the entire inventory that it has on hand, and this morning on the call with White House officials, they informed us that no Johnson and Johnson fact seen at all will be shipped next week or the week after that, that they’re promising that by the 18th we will be getting another shipment. I can assure you that whatever supply we receive, we are ready to immediately deploy and to get in to the arms of Marylanders.
White House officials assured governors today that they are working to increase the supply of all vaccines by the end of March and throughout April and May, which will enable us to expand our state-run mass vaccination sites. This week the Six Flags America site in PG County will double from 2,000 to more than 4,000 shots per day. The mass vaccination site at M and T Bank Stadium in Baltimore City will ramp up ahead of schedule this week to doing 2,000 shots per day. With the M&T Bank site now operational, the Baltimore Convention Center mass vaccination site will now expand its focus and will prioritize underserved communities in Baltimore City. And we will also see more than 100 percent increase to more than 1,000 shots per day.
Southern Maryland mass vaccination site at the Blue Crabs Stadium in Charles County will now open this Thursday, March 4th, which is one week ahead of schedule. Initial appointment slots will be made available starting this evening.
The Eastern Shore mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center in Salisbury will open no later than Thursday, March 18th.
We have finalized site acquisition on the western Maryland mass vaccination site, which will be located at the premium outlets in Hagerstown, which will open by the end of this month. Maryland’s hospital will be the clinical partner for that site.
This will give us at least one mass vaccination site in every region of the state, which can administer thousands of shots per day.
In addition, state health emergency management officials are in active discussions with several other counties that have expressed interest in partnering on additional state mass vaccination sites. Expanding the hours, the capacity, volume, and the number of mass vaccination sites is all contingent on future increases in supply from the federal government. With this week’s incremental increase in supply, we were able to increase our allocations to providers all across the state. This will be both hospitals and local Health Departments receiving increases in their allocations. This includes allocated doses of Pfizer and Moderna and each local Health Department and community health center will also receive an initial allocation of Johnson and Johnson. But once again, the federal government is not able to ship any Johnson and Johnson vaccine for the next few weeks.
We have advised the hospitals and local Health Departments that we are prepared to consider further increases to their vaccine allocations in future weeks if they are able to utilize them. Providers will be required to administer all the doses that they receive within one week of delivery in order to be prioritized for an increase in allocation. The goal here is to get the vaccine from the federal government deployed out immediately and into the arm of a person who needs it. The doses cannot be allowed to sit on shelves or in freezers while hundreds of thousands of people are desperately trying to schedule an appointment for vaccines. If any provider is unable to meet this standard of utilizing doses in the same week that they are received, state health officials will work with them to either transfer their doses or to pause their allocation shipments until they’re able to catch up.
Our expanding statewide network now includes 2,381 distribution points, and following both the federal and state vaccination plans, we intend to continue to broaden this distribution network to ensure as many points of access as possible in every single county with an infrastructure capable of doing up to 100,000 shots per day just as soon as they are made by the manufacturers and are allocated to us by the federal government.
You can find a list of providers in your area at COVIDvax.maryland.gov, and for residents without internet access, the COVID-19 vaccination support center is available 7 days a week at 1-855-MD-GOVAX. We have now vaccinated more than 40 percent of our eligible population, including many of our most vulnerable Marylanders. However, I know how frustrating this is for the many other people who are currently eligible and cannot get schedule appointments because there are no vaccines available for them. The pace of daily vaccination is hitting a new high every day. A third safe and effective vaccine is now available. The next potential fourth vaccine is in phase 3 clinical trials also made here in Maryland in Gaithersburg, and we’re using every tool in our disposal to get shots in arms and we will not rest until a vaccine is available to every single Marylander who wants one so we can bring this pandemic to an end once and for all.
With that, I’ll be happy to take a few questions.
(Question off mic).
I’m concerned about some of those reports, and we’re trying to do the best job we can. We’re trying to get to the bottom of that. So today I think we’ve done more than 28 other states. I would rather be number one. We had discussions with the White House and CDC. One thing I think is causing a problem, we couldn’t figure out how we had done 99.7 percent of all the doses we had yet somehow we were showing up lower in the ranking of allocations used. And we’re still trying to get to the bottom of it with the White House and the CDC. But apparently there are about 230,000 doses that the federal government has sent to federal agencies and they’ve maybe only utilized 60,000 of them and they were counted as coming to Maryland but we had no control of them.
We’re trying to get to the bottom of it. We’ve utilized just about every single one we have. And we’re doing the best we can and better than most states.
(Question off mic).
The question last week was about the mayor had said the city was getting less than they should have. The city actually had a higher allocation. They had the highest allocation. But look, I know there are concerns about the way it was misinterpreted. We’ve been very focused on equity. That’s why we made some announcements early on. We had a task force to the city and PG County to work with us on an equity plan. That’s why we announced our equity effort with all of the leaders in Baltimore City about a month ago. It’s why we set up two mass vaccination sites there. It’s why I just said we’re making the convention center focused on Baltimore City residents. We had people in the city this weekend at churches. We’re continuing to go in the community. We’ve done far better than most other states in the country with respect to that but it’s not good enough. This Thursday, General Birckhead, we’ll have a press conference where we lay out a very detailed plan, an operational logistic plan, statewide plan, on equity, and it’s going to be the first one in America. And we’ll continue to work on that problem.
(Question off mic).
First, let me just say that I was very proud of Dr. Redfield’s leadership at the CDC. It was under his leadership, he was on the operation warp speed board that made these incredible accomplishments that are enabling us to save lives right now. Under the CDC guidance, that’s what we’ve followed throughout the entire pandemic, and the great advice that they promulgated. I’m not going to sit here and defend everything the President said or did or relitigate the past and I’m not sure Dr. Redfield wants to either. But I’m not sure most of that criticism was ever directed at him or his leadership of that agency, which I am very proud of.
REDFIELD: I would just echo that I continue to be proud of the CDC and the men and women there. I think contrary to what some people use as the story board, I think it remains the most premiere public health agency in the world. We generated literally thousands of recommendations to the American public, which they accessed, literally moving the needle. I’m proud of what we did. We did put science first. I am, if anything, I was disappointed of during my time at CDC, it was the inconsistency of messaging. And clearly it’s really important to public health that you all are so fortunate with Governor Hogan to have that public health message echoed by civic leaders. And we stood for that, and across the country, unfortunately there were a number of civic leaders that didn’t echo the public health message. But I stand behind my time at the agency. I think, again, this was the greatest public health crisis in this nation for over a century, and I think we did respond in a manner in which helped advance the efforts to get this pandemic under control.
(Question off mic).
GOVERNOR HOGAN: Without a lot of detail, it simply takes a while to ramp up production. Because we were in desperate need of vaccines, they simply pushed out. They had been manufacturing these for many months, waiting for the approval, and then they just shipped out every single one they had in one week and now they have to catch back up again. They just wouldn’t have anymore, the next shipment won’t come for another 18 days.
(Question off mic).
Yes. Just recently we worked together under a federal program for the long-term care facility. Walgreens and CVS had a large supply, more than they needed, and we worked together with them in a partnership just as of Friday when we got back from them about 25,000 doses which we’ll be able to reallocate to others. It wasn’t that they were not doing a good job. It was that they had more than they needed after getting out and doing all the clinics across the state. Rather than sitting in a freezer, we’re now sending them out to somebody who will put them in somebody’s arm in the next few days.
(Question off mic).
Look, I think obviously these are serious allegations against the Governor and they need to be looked into. There’s no question about that. The people need to come forward and be listened to. Governor Cuomo led the call today with the White House. I think we’ll wait and see how this progresses.
(Question off mic).
There’s lots of emergency contracts. They all go before the Board of Public Works. They’ve all been approved so far. Helping with the data and the issue that we talked B. they helped us identify where the extra doses were, how many the long-term care facilities needed, where we could call them back and reallocate, doing a better job of getting doses in arms. They identified the problem was the federal government, where there were a couple hundred thousand doses they were showing on our website that we knew nothing about and had no control over. We’re now trying to get the White House and the CDC to fix. So Ernst & Young is earning their keep, helping us find potentially tens of thousands of doses that we can now maybe utilize, and we’re very pleased with their service.
(Question off mic).
Well, I completely understand the frustration. I’m frustrated. Everyone up here is frustrated. Everyone at the White House is frustrated. Everyone in America is frustrated. There are about a million people who are currently eligible for the vaccine who we cannot schedule for a vaccine. But it’s not about a website or a process. It’s about the fact that there aren’t any vaccines. So I know how frustrating it is, and everybody wants a quick fix. But the bottom line is, you can’t schedule appointments for vaccines that don’t exist.
So we’re all working. It’s not a perfect process, but yes, I’m convinced that everyone is working as hard as they can and we’ve got as good or better a process than anybody else in the country.
(Question off mic).
We just found out about this and the White House and CDC can’t give us answers so we don’t have any more information than I gave you. They were on the website Thursday night and disappeared and they said they were applied to government agencies. And they’re going to get back to us. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.
(Question off mic).
We don’t know exactly. But they allocated them to Maryland but they did not send them to us.
(Question off mic).
We’ve been working on it throughout the entire effort. We were the first I think state in America to start tracking. We were the first ones to focus on the equity effort in testing. We’re the first ones in America to work on a statewide plan so it’s not only now that we’re behind. We’ve known it’s an issue. Now we’re getting the vaccines and we’re seeing how it’s working and how it’s not working and how we can improve. And it’s improving every week.
Prince George’s County, for example, we sent the National Guard, we opened up multiple centers, we’ve gone in to the community, we’ve pushed more pharmacies and we’ve had a 250 percent increase just in the past week. So we’re going to continue to try to make improvements and we’re going to do the same thing in Baltimore City.
SPEAKER: Last question.
(Question off mic).
We made a great effort in that regard. And the general will talk more about that on Thursday. We’re working daily with PG County and Baltimore City and they’ve taken a great many steps already and will continue to take more.
SPEAKER: Thank you, Governor.