The state is launching an effort to distribute N95 and KN95 masks at no cost to Marylanders beginning next week.
Governor Larry Hogan discussed the effort while touring a new state-run COVID-19 testing site at the University of Maryland’s Shore Regional Health facility, which will be joined by five additional testing sites across the state. The Governor further emphasized the need for Marylanders to get vaccinated and socially distance in a press release:
“We are encouraging all Marylanders to continue doing the things that can keep us safe: getting vaccinated and boosted, avoiding crowds, keeping your distance, washing your hands, and wearing masks or face coverings when appropriate,” said Governor Hogan. “We will keep taking whatever actions are necessary, and we urge Marylanders to remain vigilant, so that together we can continue leading the nation with our health and economic recovery.”
Additional details regarding the testing and masking efforts follow:
Hospital-Based Testing Sites. Governor Hogan announced a total of six additional locations for hospital-based testing sites, which are on track to be fully operational and open daily, with no appointment necessary, by the end of next week. They include:
- UM Shore Regional Health (Talbot County)
- TidalHealth (Wicomico County)
- Garrett Regional Medical Center (Garrett County)
- Holy Cross Germantown Hospital (Montgomery County)
- Howard County General Hospital (Howard County)
- UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center (Anne Arundel County)
Last week, the governor announced the first 10 locations for hospital-based testing sites. Additional sites will open tomorrow.
Distribution of 20 Million N95 and KN95 Masks. To make it even easier for Marylanders to have an extra layer of protection, Governor Hogan announced that MDH will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks—which provide additional infection protection compared to cloth and general use face masks—next week. The masks will be distributed through multiple channels including:
- Local health departments
- All state-run testing and vaccination sites
- The Vaccine Equity Task Force, through partnerships with community organizations such as the NAACP
- Nursing homes
- Maryland state agencies
With increasing COVID-19 caseloads across the state, the Maryland Department of Health also issued an order regarding nursing home staff:
Twice-Weekly Testing of Staff, Volunteers, and Vendors at Nursing Homes Regardless of Vaccination Status. MDH has issued an order that requires all staff, volunteers, and vendors who are in a nursing home facility regularly, regardless of vaccination status, to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week whenever community transmission is high. In addition, all visitors will need to provide proof of a negative test, or be tested at the facility with a rapid test prior to entering.
As of today, 70% of Maryland nursing homes are reporting positive COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.
The order will go into effect on Jan. 21, and the state will work closely with nursing homes to make all of the necessary testing resources available to them.