ANNAPOLIS, MD—Governor Larry Hogan on Tuesday declared a 30-day state of emergency to take urgent short-term actions to combat the current COVID-19 surge and mobilized 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to assist state and local health officials with the ongoing pandemic response.
On Tuesday, Maryland hit a record high 3,057 COVID-19 hospitalizations, which is an increase of more than 500% in the last seven weeks. The newest projections show that COVID-19 hospitalizations could reach more than 5,000, which is more than 250% higher than the previous peak.
“The truth is that the next four to six weeks will be the most challenging of the entire pandemic,” said Governor Hogan. “All of the emergency actions we are taking today are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary in the very difficult days and weeks ahead.”
In addition to the 30-day state of emergency, below is a list of the comprehensive actions Governor Hogan announced on Tuesday:
Authorization of Maryland Secretary of Health to Regulate Hospital Personnel, Bed Space, and Supplies
To assist hospitals and nursing homes in addressing staffing shortages, Governor Hogan signed an executive order that authorizes the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health to:
- Direct and expedite the transfer of patients between facilities as necessary;
- Establish alternate care sites, and allow the Health Services Cost Review Commission to set rates for them;
- Allow interstate reciprocity for health care licenses;
- Allow inactive health care practitioners to practice without reinstating their licenses;
- Authorize graduate nurses to work at any health care facility and to provide full nursing services;
- Allow health care practitioners to practice outside the scope of their licenses;
- Regulate elective medical procedures as necessary; and
- Issue directives to control and monitor COVID-19 in nursing homes and similar congregate care facilities.
Expansion of EMS Workforce
The governor enacted a second executive order that authorizes additional steps to further augment the state’s EMS workforce, which is on the front lines and also overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
Mobilization of 1,000 Members of the Maryland National Guard
At Governor Hogan’s direction, 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard are being mobilized to assist state and local health officials with the state’s emergency pandemic response.
- Approximately 250 National Guard members will be deployed to support COVID-19 testing sites across the state, including at hospitals and skilled nursing facilities, and to assist with patient transport.
- Additional National Guard soldiers will be immediately assigned to support operations at the two new state-run sites located at University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health in Bel Air and Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis.
Opening 20 New Hospital-Adjacent Testing Sites Across the State
To meet the rising demand for testing and divert people from visiting hospital emergency rooms to get COVID-19 tests, the Maryland National Guard will assist with opening 20 testing sites outside of hospitals across the state. To find a testing site, visit https://covidtest.maryland.gov. State health officials continue to urge residents not to visit an emergency room just to get a COVID-19 test.
Authorization of Booster Shots for 12- to 15-Year-Olds
Following the latest action from the FDA, the State of Maryland will now provide COVID-19 booster shots for children between the ages of 12 and 15. Marylanders are also now eligible to get a booster five months after completing their primary doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Previous guidance required eligible Marylanders to wait six months.
Calls For Federal Action on Monoclonal Antibodies, Rapid Tests, COVID-19 Antiviral Pills
Governor Hogan called on the Biden administration to take immediate action to:
- Increase the distribution of monoclonal antibodies;
- Expedite the approval of additional rapid tests for public use, and push to increase production and distribution to the states; and
- Expedite the production and allocation of the new COVID-19 antiviral pills, which were recently authorized by the FDA.
Calls on Maryland Employers to Incentivize Vaccinations and Boosters, Encourage Masks or Face Coverings
Following Monday’s announcement that the state is now providing two hours of paid leave for any employee who gets a booster shot, Governor Hogan urged other employers across Maryland to provide leave for vaccinations and boosters. With face coverings now required in all state government buildings in Maryland, the governor also urged more employers to encourage the wearing of masks or face coverings.
Video from Tuesday’s press conference can be viewed below.