ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WDVM) — The state of Maryland entered a state of emergency on Tuesday. Gov. Larry Hogan announced cases and hospitalizations skyrocketed to new highs, breaking previous records.
“The next four to six weeks will be the most challenging time of the entire pandemic,” Hogan said. “Our newest projections, as of today, show that COVID hospitalizations could reach more than 5,000.”
On Tuesday, the state reported a staggering 3,057 hospitalizations. As a result, Hogan issued an executive order to relax specific health regulations with these grim numbers in mind. Under this order, the secretary of the Maryland Department of Health will be able to do the following:
- 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.
The governor emphasized that the days of being able to be complacent about the virus are behind us, saying, “With this new surge of Omicron, it’s important for Marylanders to get back to using common sense and doing the things that kept us safe before.”
Along with urging Marylanders to get vaccinated or boosted, Hogan encouraged residents to return to social distancing, frequent hand-washing, and mask-wearing. However, despite reinstating a mask mandate in state buildings, the governor said he does not see any benefit to bringing back a statewide mandate.
“I’m not sure the people that refuse to wear a mask are going to wear one anyway, and we don’t have the ability to enforce it,” the governor clarified. “We’re just strongly encouraging people.”
In response to the hourslong testing lines caused by the surge — and to some residents misusing emergency rooms in an attempt to get a test — Hogan also deployed 1,000 members of the national guard to assist in running operations and to open 20 new testing sites across the state.