ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Amid a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations in Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan announced $100 million in emergency funding Tuesday to ramp up hospital and nursing home staffing and make more testing, treatments and vaccines available.
“As I have been warning for the past few weeks, we are entering another pivotal moment in the fight against COVID-19,” Hogan said. “We will continue to constantly monitor this surge and take additional actions as needed.”
Hogan said he’s also mobilizing the Maryland National Guard to provide support personnel to expand testing sites and hours.
The emergency funding includes $50 million to stabilize hospital staffing and another $50 million to expand the availability of COVID-19 testing, treatment and vaccines at hospitals and nursing homes, Hogan said. The state also will provide $30 million for schools to purchase testing resources, he said.
Hogan, who is working from home after testing positive for the coronavirus himself on Monday, made the announcement via video. He said he was only experiencing cold-like symptoms, something he attributes to getting vaccinated. He urged others to do the same.
While 91% of adults in the state are vaccinated, staff will continue to work to reach those who still aren’t, he said.
“Right now that remaining 9% is responsible for more than 75% of our COVID-19 hospitalizations, pushing our hospital systems and our health care heroes to the brink,” he said. “We’re pleading with those people. Please do not wait until it’s too late or until you get too sick. Go out now and get vaccinated.”
Maryland reported 6,218 new cases on Tuesday, the highest number of cases reported on one day during the pandemic. The seven-day average testing positivity rate grew to 11.6%, a 1.4% change from a day earlier.
The National Guard will provide support personnel to expand testing sites and hours. Annapolis and Prince George’s County testing sites will expand operations sites to six days a week, officials said. Testing at the State Center site in Baltimore will also expand, with at-home rapid test kits available on site.
Meanwhile, hospitalizations grew to 1,392, an increase of more than 180% in the last month. Hogan said projections show that the hospitalizations could surpass 2,000 with a peak in mid-to-late January, which is typically the peak of flu season.
The number of coronavirus deaths has not been updated since Maryland officials took state health department servers offline amid an apparent cyberattack earlier this month. The state reported 11,022 deaths on Dec. 4. Health officials began reporting case numbers and positivity rate data again Monday after a more than two week interruption.