Maryland governor announces steps to boost hospital beds

FILE — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. Faced with surging COVID-19 cases, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

Saying the worst of the pandemic is still ahead, Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday pleaded to Maryland residents with a clinical background to assist in the state’s fight against the surging coronavirus.

Speaking at a State House press conference as Maryland surpassed 200,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, Hogan said state hospitals were nearing a threshold that would require them to expand bed capacity by 10 percent within a seven-day period.

The Republican governor said all hospitals were required to submit a detailed surge plan to the Maryland Department of Health by Dec. 8. The plan must outline staffing and bed-capacity adjustments.

Dr. Jinlene Chan, acting deputy secretary for public health for MDH, said the state was looking for 2,000-3,000 health professionals to step into roles in the coming weeks.

The state reported 2,765 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, marking the 27th straight day it had registered at least 1,000 new cases. It has surpassed 2,000 cases 11 times in the past 18 days.

“The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our health care system and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our health care workers who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress,” Hogan said. “We are laser focused on taking actions in an effort to prevent the overburdening of our health care system.”

Coronavirus hospitalizations in Maryland reached the highest level since early May on Tuesday with 1,583. That included 350 in intensive care.

Over the past two weeks, Hogan said COVID hospitalizations have increased by 51 percent.

At Frederick Health Hospital, there were 36 coronavirus patients, including four in intensive care, as of Monday.

Hogan said state residents with clinical backgrounds were needed at hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics across the state.

He encouraged colleges and universities to provide academic credit for medical students willing to serve, and called for expedited testing and licensing requirements for health care students who are in their final semester and have already met graduation requirements.

The governor also called upon counties to use non-deployed school nurses, health-services staff and other employees to assist at the state’s testing and vaccination sites.

Hogan, in mid-November, announced limits to operating hours for restaurants and bars and reduced indoor capacity from 75 to 50 percent for retail businesses in an attempt to curb further spread of the coronavirus.{span} The capacity reduction of 50 percent included, but was not limited to retail shops, religious facilities, personal services, bingo halls, bowling alleys and fitness centers.

”I do understand we all just want to take one day off from COVID-19, especially during the holidays,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, the COVID-19 incident commander for the University of Maryland medical system. “Unfortunately, the virus does not take a day off.”

Asked about reports of coming vaccines, Hogan said Maryland would likely receive roughly 155,000 doses in its initial batch, which would be enough to inoculate about half of the state’s frontline health care workers.

“That’s not enough,” he said.

There were no specifics provided on when those first doses would be available and who would receive them.

Hogan said it would take time to ramp up the vaccine distribution effort, much like it did with testing. At the onset of the pandemic, the state was conducting fewer than 100 tests per day and now administers tens of thousands over the same period of time.

At one point during the press conference, Hogan became choked up when relaying the news that the virus had claimed the life of its youngest victim to date in Maryland, a 1-year-old boy.

A total of 4,516 Maryland residents have died from the virus after 30 more were reported Tuesday.

Overall hospitalizations in Maryland reached 6,816. If that number reaches 8,000 at any point, Hogan said all hospitals in the state will be required to increase bed capacity by 10 percent within a seven-day period.

“We are taking these steps to ensure that every single Marylander in need of a hospital bed is able to get a hospital bed,” Hogan said.

The governor encouraged anyone with a clinical background to sign up to help combat the virus at marylandmednow.com.

Frederick Health Hospital did not immediately respond to a News-Post inquiry about how it would increase capacity to comply with the order.

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(18) comments

PurplePickles aka L&M

A governor who’s afraid to govern. Why does he continue to be reactive in response to the virus instead of proactive, what’s the point of closing the door once the horse gets out, unless you round up the horse put the horse back in the barn then close the doors.

Greg F

You forget he went out for test kits early? He’s still way ahead of other governors, including dems...and I’m a dem. You can thank trump and the jackasses that don’t wear masks and the governors who think they can pray this away....all Republican too that are that mentally challenged.

jth7100

Your response also contains assumptions which you typically point out to others.

jth7100

The response was based on the photos displayed. You thought you were clever calling out a previous response for Coe when you have no idea of the distances involved or if Hogan was of safe distance. I am just calling out your usual hypocrisy.

C.D.Reid

Ok jth, and just how was I being hypocritical? Do you even know the meaning of the word?

jth7100

Do you see the person next to Hogan? No? See the difference? Go back and look at the photo of Coe. There you go.

C.D.Reid

And how do you know that there wasn't someone standing within 6' of him when he was talking? It was a news conference, he always has some staff, including a sign language interpreter, present when he does them. And, from the angle the picture of Coe was taken, how do you know that the other person in that photo wasn't more than 6' from him? Take your time, I'm sure you'll need it to think up a good spin to cover any response.

duffy5x

Are you so completely anti-science and anti-sanity that you continue to post this idiocy?

C.D.Reid

Once again, when confronted with a point you can't refute, deflection is always your best friend, isn't it? [lol][lol][lol]

C.D.Reid

Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where's Plumbum and her cohorts? Why aren't they condemning the governor for not wearing a mask during a press conference two weeks ago??? She saw fit to call out Tom Coe for the same thing, why is she silent on the head RINO? C'mon Pb, get with it!

duffy5x

Ahhh...this is such a sad, sad, little post.

duffy5x

It's funny watching you descend further and further into denial and utter stupidity. Go ahead... call me another name, you only make yourself look like a fool.

duffy5x

RINO=trumplican code for a republican who's not stupid enough to fall for the rantings of an orange conman.

Greg F

Ike must have been a RINO then.

C.D.Reid

To you I may be "descending further and further into denial and utter stupidity," doofus5x, but you reached that point years ago. What's that tell you?

Greg F

When you can face reality on trump, then your comment will be worth more than a hill of beans.

bosco

When you can face the reality on Biden, then your comments will be worth more than a hill of beans. [ninja]

Comment deleted.
C.D.Reid

Oh, so I'm rich now, am I fido? Gee, I sure appreciate you telling me that, I wasn't aware of it. Ummm, just out of curiosity, how rich am I?

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