State Health Officials Brief COVID-19 Legislative Workgroup

Representatives from the Maryland Department of Health briefed the joint legislative workgroup on bed surge, PPE, testing, and contact tracing. 

The workgroup was joined by Maryland Department of Health Secretary Robert Neall, Chief Operating Officer Dennis Schrader, and Deputy Secretary Fran Phillips.

Highlights of the department’s presentation included:

Bed Surge: The department worked with the Maryland Hospital Association, individual hospitals, and local leaders to identify 6,700 beds to address COVID-19 surge in wave one. Under the worst-case scenario, the state needs a minimum of 6,000 for stays of 12-15 days per patient. Thankfully, beds have not been needed as intensely as the worst-case scenario presented, but they are maintaining the beds for potential future surges. Staffing remains a challenge and they are working on recruitment.

Personal Protective Equipment:  A multi-agency task force has been ramping up deliveries of PPE to state and local agencies. The department shared that 1,200 ventilators, over 6.4 million N-95 respirators, 8.7 million KN-95s, 23 million surgical masks, 17 million gloves, 1.2 million face shields, and 2.1 million gowns have been delivered. The presentation included a breakdown of what has been delivered to local health departments.

2020-06-04 10_53_11-Start - MDH Presentation Joint Covid Workgroup - LHD deliveries

Testing Capacity: The state is currently sustaining around 10,000 tests a day but has a goal of reaching 20,000 tests a day.  They have contracts with five commercial in-state and out-of-state labs. In the past 24 hours the labs performed 14,385 tests. The state is continuing to expand testing by including adding more vehicle emission inspection program (VEIP) sites, creating four regional high-volume sites, and performing universal testing in state prisons and juvenile facilities.

Contract Tracing: There are currently 1,400 contract tracers statewide including 800 hired by local health departments. They have the capacity to trace 1,000 positive cases and up to 10,000 contacts daily. Both state and local contract tracers are operating off of the same platform and with the goal of initiating tracing within 24 hours of a lab-confirmed positive result. The state is working on public messaging about working with contact tracers when they reach out to you.

The meeting also included a briefing by Dr. Tom Inglesby, Director of Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Dr. Inglesby discussed the reopening process, trends we are seeing, spikes around demonstrations, and timelines for seeing cases occur.

The Joint COVID-19 Response Legislative Work Group is co-chaired by President Ferguson and Speaker Jones and includes 22 House and Senate members. Their charge is to monitor the effects COVID-19 in Maryland and to support the Governor and Department of Health and advise the General Assembly on any actions they should be taking.

The meeting was streamed live and a recording may be found on YouTube.

For more information:

Agenda and Materials for June 3, 2020 Joint COVID-19 legislation

Prior coverage from Conduit Street:

County Health Officers Brief Joint COVID-19 Workgroup

Joint COVID-19 Workgroup Digs Into Data Models, Next Steps