Today, Governor Larry Hogan declared a 30-day State of Emergency concerning the recent surge in COVID-19 cases.
The declaration is followed by several executive orders and other actions intended to protect and increase health care resources including the activation of the National Guard, establishing new testing sites, and expanding the emergency medical services (EMS) workforce.
Governor Hogan discussed the urgency behind the State of Emergency in a press release:
“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.”
The State of Emergency Proclamation states, “there are currently more than 3,000 persons hospitalized in Maryland because of COVID-19, which is more than at any prior time during the COVID-19 pandemic… [D]ata suggests that the number of persons hospitalized in Maryland because of COVID-19 could continue to increase significantly in the near future.” This morning, the Maryland Department of Health, through its Maryland COVID-19 Data Dashboard, reported 14,494 new COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours, and hospitalizations numbered 3,057.
According to an Administration message to county leaders, the new COVID-19 related measures include:
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 (MDH) 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.Authorization of Booster Shots for 12- to 15-Year-Olds, All Eligible Marylanders After Five Months. 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 either the Pfizer or Moderna 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 yesterday’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.
Read the Governor’s executive orders: