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Hogan announces steps to address rising COVID-19 hospitalizations

ANNAPOLIS — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced additional actions Wednesday to prepare for a further surge in COVID-19 amid rising hospitalizations.

The Maryland Department of Health and other state agencies have been working daily with Maryland’s hospitals and the Maryland Hospital Association to ensure patient bed capacity since November. State agencies have been meeting weekly with hospital leadership to elevate topics of concern, the governor’s office said.

“As I announced last week, we are continuing to closely monitor the rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations and use every tool at our disposal to make sure our hospitals have the resources they need to prepare for this and future surges,” Hogan said, while urging residents to get vaccinated or get a booster shot.

As part of the actions announced by the governor Wednesday, Maryland has created a Surge Operation Center to manage the state’s daily operations surrounding a sustained COVID-19 surge at hospitals, including a potential sudden influx of unvaccinated patients, the governor said.

State health officials also have issued a new directive ordering hospitals to undertake actions when certain state COVID-19 hospitalization thresholds are reached.

For example, when Maryland reaches 1,200 hospitalizations, hospitals have been ordered to make available all staffed bed capacity and to reduce scheduling non-urgent medical surgeries that would result in an overnight stay. At 1,500, hospitals are directed to implement their pandemic plans.

Hospitals have been directed to immediately update their existing pandemic plans.

The governor also announced steps to address health care staffing needs. State health officials are working with state boards to advance emergency regulations to enhance health care staffing at hospitals.

On Wednesday, Maryland reported there were 1,151 hospitalizations in the state. While that was down 22 from the previous day, the number of hospitalizations in Maryland have more than doubled in the past month. A month ago, there were 508 hospitalizations in the state.

The health department was hit by a cyberattack earlier this month, and its website showing data on COVID-19 has been limited in its daily updates. It has resumed updates for vaccinations and hospitalizations.