Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced several actions Tuesday to increase and mobilize medical staffing in the state as part of an effort to alleviate the burden on hospital systems during the current surge of coronavirus cases.
Hogan called on people with clinical backgrounds to reach out to seek work in hospitals, testing sites and vaccination clinics across the state, and he said the state has activated the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps.
“We’ve taken an awful lot of actions in trying to stop the virus and we continue to look at things as they become necessary,” Hogan said, “but the current focus today is on our health care providers and our hospitals and the people that are in the hospital who we’re trying to keep alive.”
The announcement comes as hospitalizations in the state have increased by 51 percent over the past two weeks, with new records expected in the coming days, the governor added. Twenty-one hospitals in the state are now at over 90 percent capacity, and with a 7.33 percent seven-day positivity rate and more than 2,700 new cases in the past 24 hours, the state has now surpassed 200,000 COVID-19 cases.
“It’s easy to just think about the impact that this virus as something abstract or inconvenient that will run its course, like a few bad weeks of winter weather,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, who Hogan announced will now serve as the state’s senior medical adviser on COVID-19. “But let me be clear, there is no ceiling to this or at least one that we do not want to test.”
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Earlier this year, Hogan said, state executive orders expedited the licensing process for out-of-state and inactive practitioners. Hogan also encouraged state colleges and universities to allow certain health care students to graduate earlier to expedite their transition into the workforce and requested that they create emergency policies and procedures that would give academic credit to students serving in health care during the pandemic.
He also added that Maryland is scheduled to receive a first batch of about 155,000 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. That will cover about half of all frontline workers in Maryland, Hogan added, and it is still unclear whether that number accounts for the fact that each vaccinated person will need two shots.
Further, Hogan urged Congress to pass a Phase Four relief package for families and small businesses — calling it “frustrating” that Congress hadn’t passed another stimulus bill in nine months and voicing his hope that officials come up with “some kind of a compromise.”
“Yes, we need more vaccines and we need more relief money,” he said. “But we’ll take what we can get now.”