Hogan announces vaccination rules for some state employees

Bryan P. Sears//August 5, 2021

Hogan announces vaccination rules for some state employees

By Bryan P. Sears

//August 5, 2021

“These are the actions that we feel are appropriate today given the data and where the data stands,” says Gov. Larry Hogan. “We watch it every single day, and we’ll take whatever additional actions when we believe they are necessary.”

ANNAPOLIS — State employees at congregate facilities will be required to prove they have been vaccinated or be subjected to more stringent coronavirus control measures.

The new policies announced by Gov. Larry Hogan come as some large jurisdictions in the state have announced broader requirements for local government employees as well as mask mandates.

“We’re doing it in five or six different departments and 48 facilities where … they’re actually putting people in the greatest danger, our most vulnerable folks that we’re providing services for,” said Hogan.

“These are the actions that we feel are appropriate today given the data and where the data stands,” said Hogan. “We watch it every single day, and we’ll take whatever additional actions when we believe they are necessary.”

The governor maintained that he believes he has the authority impose vaccination requirements on state employees if it becomes necessary.

Hogan said he hoped the state actions in congregate facilities would guide the state’s nursing home and assisted living facilities to impose vaccination requirements on employees. So far, many in the industry have not adopted vaccination requirements similar to those imposed at hospitals around the state.

Hogan said that while workers at nursing home and assisted living facilities are vaccinated at rates below the state average, residents of those facilities are vaccinated at levels above the state average.

Hogan’s order, which takes effect Sept. 1, requires employees working at congregate care facilities — including hospitals operated by the Maryland Department of Health, Department of Juvenile Services and the Department of Veterans Affairs — to be vaccinated with a first dose by the end of the month. Workers who either do not get vaccinated or cannot prove their vaccination status will be required to prove they are not infected through regular testing. They will also be required to wear masks while at work.

Hogan said employees who falsify their vaccination status would be subject to disciplinary action.

Hogan did not announce a broader vaccination policy for state employees or any new mask requirements. Baltimore city and some counties, including Anne Arundel and Prince George’s, have announced vaccination and mask use requirements this week as COVID-19 cases in the state continue to rise.

“It’s spreading faster than the original (virus) but at much lower numbers,” said Hogan. “We had far more people getting infected but now most of our people are not getting infected. They’re vaccinated. Our hospitalizations are not at 1,900 (COVID-19 patients0 anymore. They’re at 300.”

Coronavirus cases are not only lower than the peak in January, as noted by Hogan, the number of cases are below where the state was a year ago when no vaccines where available. Still, cases have been climbing for more than a month.

“It’s a serious virus, but we’re managing it pretty well because we’re so well-vaccinated,” said Hogan.

On Thursday, Maryland reported 729 new infections. This is the most in a single day since May 7. The state has recorded 500 or more cases in six of the last eight days. Positivity rates, new cases per 100,000 people and hospitalizations have all increased since late June though they remain lower than January peaks.

The current rolling seven-day average for cases is 557, a figure nearly nine times higher than one month ago. It is only two-thirds of the average daily cases reported the same time one year ago.

“We have seen an upsurge in the number of cases in the last few weeks, and it is being driven by the Delta variant,” said Deputy Health Secretary Jinlene Chan.

“The proportion of these cases (in Maryland) is nearing 100 percent,” she said. “It is the predominant virus in Maryland and it is spreading extremely rapidly, more so than prior viruses.”

Vaccinations, she said, remain the best way to avoid the most dire consequences of an infection, including hospitalization and death.

“The initial and primary purpose of COVID-19 vaccines and of our entire vaccination campaign, the first goal we have was to prevent severe cases and death from COVID-19 above anything else,” Chan said.

Starting Thursday, the state is adding post-vaccination infections data to its public dashboard with weekly updates.

Maryland’s first post-vaccination infection was identified on Jan. 26. Since then, the state has identified 3,835 additional infections — about 0.12% of the more than 3.2 million people vaccinated. Of those, only 454 people have been hospitalized and 53 have died.

“About 96% of cases cumulative since the beginning of the year are among those who are unvaccinated,” said Chan.




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