COVID-19 hospitalizations and cases in Maryland have both reached an all-time high, with the state seeing 2,046 total hospitalizations and 10,873 new daily cases in state on Wednesday, according to data reported by the state.
“As we have been projecting, our statewide COVID-19 hospitalizations have now reached record levels and surpassed 2,000 — a surge driven primarily by unvaccinated patients,” Gov. Larry Hogan said a statement released Wednesday morning. “It cannot be stressed enough that getting vaccinated and getting boosted are your strongest possible defenses against this virus and its variants.”
In response to the increasing severity of the pandemic, the Maryland Hospital Association, which represents the interests of hospitals and health systems in the state, called on the governor to declare limited public health emergency for health care providers and hospitals.
Previously, Maryland was in a public health emergency due to COVID-19 for over a year from March 2020 through August 2021, after cases had declined significantly following the rollout of vaccines. In contrast with the previous public health emergency, the “limited public health emergency” that MHA is requesting would apply only to health care services and hospitals that are being impacted by the current wave of COVID-19 cases, rather than the whole state.
“We respectfully ask the Governor and Secretary of Health to help the hospitals by offering the flexibilities and protections that a limited PHE affords,” Bob Atlas, MHA’s president and CEO, said in a statement released Wednesday.
In an email to The Daily Record, Atlas said the MHA would like to see “documentation and administrative burdens lifted, staffing flexibility increased and other supports for hospitals and their employees.”
In his Wednesday statement, Hogan announced no new initiatives to curb the spread of the virus, instead reiterating a number of steps taken in recent weeks ahead of the current spike in cases and hospitalizations. These steps include contributing $100 million to hospitals and nursing homes to hire additional staff, establishing a surge care center, and requiring hospitals to take certain emergency measures, such as suspending elective surgeries.
The state reached its previous hospitalizations peak just under a year ago on Jan. 12, 2021, when 1,952 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. At that time, vaccines were just beginning to roll out and weren’t yet widely available to the public. That peak also came after about a month and a half of high hospitalization rates; from late November 2020 to the peak in January, hospitalizations had largely been hovering between 1,500 and 1,900.
In contrast, the current spike in hospitalizations has been much more sudden. Over the past month, hospitalizations have grown by 229%, from 621 on Nov. 29.
According to Hogan’s announcement, the unvaccinated continue to make up the majority of the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations; 14.7% of Marylanders over the age of five and 8.3% of those over 18 have not received any doses of the vaccine.
Prior to this month’s spike, the record number of cases reported in one day was 3,758 on Jan. 9, 2021. That record was first broken on Dec. 21, when 6,218 cases were reported, and has continued to climb since then.