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Maryland governor declares state of emergency over winter surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations

The governor also enacted two new executive orders to help combat the crisis.

MARYLAND, USA — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan has declared a 30-day state of emergency and enacted new executive orders due to the havoc COVID-19 is causing on the state as measured by record-high case numbers and hospitalizations.  

On Tuesday, Maryland hit another record high of 3,057 COVID hospitalizations, which is an increase of more than 500% in the last 7 weeks. Hogan said that officials fear hospitalizations may soon reach 5,000, which is 250% higher than the previous peak. He expects the next four to six weeks to be the most challenging of the pandemic so far.

Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director at Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services, shared that many hospitals have already postponed non-urgent therapies/surgeries and nine hospitals so far are cuently operating under crisis standards of care. 

RELATED: 'I guess I just have to wait' | Patients battling other illnesses left to worry during virus surge

The governor announced two new executive orders to combat the rise. The first order authorizes Maryland's Department of Health secretary to direct and expedite the transfer of patients between hospitals and establish additional alternate care facilities. It also allows interstate reciprocity for health care licenses and allows inactive health care practitioners to practice without needing to reinstate their expired licenses.

In addition, the order authorizes graduate nurses to work at any health care facility and provide full nursing services. It also allows health care practitioners to practice outside the scope of their license and regulate elective medical procedures as necessary.

The second order, Hogan specified, covers an expansion of the EMS workforce in the state. The governor plans to deploy 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to help state and local health officials with various COVID efforts, including assisting at testing facilities and helping with patient transport.

Some of the national guard members will begin by assisting at two of the state's newly-opened testing sites.

Gov. Hogan also encouraged some personal efforts Marylanders can take to combat the virus, especially when it comes to getting vaccinated. He shared that throughout all of 2021, nearly 75% of those who tested positive in Maryland were unvaccinated and 84% of those hospitalized were people not yet fully vaccinated.

“These are not opinions or judgments," the governor said. "These are indisputable facts.”

To date, 92% of all Maryland adults are vaccinated. However, just 33% of kids (ages 5 to 11) are vaccinated. Gov. Hogan encouraged parents to ensure school-aged children get their shots as well, as it is the best way to keep schools open.

Hogan also called on President Biden to increase the distribution of monoclonal antibodies, which he described as very effective, life-saving clinical treatments, as well as to expedite the production of new, FDA-approved COVID-19 antiviral pills. 

RELATED: Gov. Hogan requires all Maryland nursing homes to offer monoclonal antibodies, even to those who haven’t tested positive yet for COVID-19

RELATED: Pfizer pill becomes 1st US-authorized home COVID treatment

He also said that they are working to get more rapid tests, despite the national shortage.

“All of the emergency actions that we’re taking today are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, keep our kids in school and to keep Maryland open for business,” Hogan said.

The governor also paused to profusely thank healthcare heroes for their sacrifice throughout the pandemic and encouraged other Marylanders to take time to thank them as well.

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