Citing improving COVID-19 metrics across the board, Gov. Larry Hogan said that hospitals and nursing homes can begin easing visitation restrictions and pledged to help school systems reopen by providing testing and additional personal-protective equipment.

In a wide-ranging press conference Thursday afternoon from the State House, Hogan made an array of announcements to address the pandemic and expressed frustration at the limited vaccine supply that is preventing the state's rollout from revving into high gear.

"We are doing vaccinations currently at more than double the current supply that we are being given, and we have built an infrastructure that is able to administer anywhere from 50,000 to 100,000 shots per day as soon as they are made by the manufacturers and allocated to us by the federal government," Hogan (R) said.

Earlier in the day, at her weekly press briefing about the vaccine rollout, County Executive Jan Gardner (D) echoed those remarks.

"Frederick County is ready to deliver vaccine as soon as we receive it. We simply need more vaccine," Gardner said. "Our public health officials have requested more vaccine and have specifically requested an allocation of doses for our educators. When more vaccine becomes available, vaccine clinics will be expanded to more locations, including a drive-through option."

So far, the state has administered more than 785,000 doses of the two-shot coronavirus vaccine from approved manufacturers Pfizer and Moderna. That includes 587,180 first doses and 197,990 second doses. 

In Frederick County, 27,721 first doses and 7,905 second doses have been delivered into arms. 

However, roughly 2.1 million Maryland residents are eligible to receive the vaccine under Hogan's directives, and the limited supply has led to widespread confusion and frustration for those eligible who are trying to get appointments.

That eligibility expanded this week in Frederick County to those who are 65-and-older.

"We don't have a regular cadence of delivery of vaccine. So, we are trying to schedule appointments before it actually arrives," Gardner said.

Hogan is set to participate in an Oval Office meeting Friday with President Joe Biden to discuss vaccine distribution and the proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill.

The governor said he would urge Biden to make use of the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine production and coordinate more closely with states in terms of the allocations being distributed straight from the federal government to vaccine providers.

Hogan said county leaders will now be receiving four-week projections for vaccine allotments, which is better than the two-week projections the federal government is currently providing to the states.

However, Hogan warned that demand for the vaccine will far surpass the available supply for the foreseeable future, even with more vaccine candidates on the cusp of receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

"The basic problem is pretty simple. We need more damn vaccines," he said. "If I needed to drain the entire rainy-day fund to buy vaccines for every eligible Marylander, I would do so today. Unfortunately, we have no control whatsoever over this supply problem. Only the federal government can buy the vaccines, and only the federal government can send us the vaccines."

Despite the slow pace of the rollout, Hogan pointed to improving coronavirus metrics across the state. He said the rate of new cases has fallen sharply over the last month, and the statewide positivity rate (5.08 percent) is as low as it has been since early November.

Overall, hospitalizations in Maryland have fallen in each of the last four weeks and are now at their lowest levels since before Thanksgiving, Hogan said. He also noted that the seven-day average for coronavirus deaths has decreased by 26 percent over the last two weeks.

"We are pushing back against this invisible enemy, and we are making great progress," the governor said.

In response to the improving metrics, Hogan announced that hospitals and nursing homes will be allowed to resume limited in-person visitations provided they adhere to strict guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

While hospitals set their own visitation guidelines, nursing homes can resume indoor visitation on March 1 provided the facility does not have an active case and is following testing protocols.

Hogan said that all Maryland nursing home residents and staff have been offered a vaccine, and the clinics at nursing homes and assisted-living facilities across the state are largely complete.

In order to help get kids back into schools, the governor said that the Maryland Department of Health and the Maryland State Department of Education will provide nearly one million COVID-19 tests to local school systems, both private and public, between now and the end of June at no charge.

Additionally, the state will provide an unlimited supply of personal protective equipment to all schools, Hogan said.

The governor has encouraged all school systems to bring back students for in-person learning. He said more guidance is coming Friday from the CDC in order to safely do so.

So far, 22 of 24 Maryland school systems have already resumed in-person learning or agreed to do so by March 1, Hogan said. Frederick County Public Schools is planning to bring students back into classrooms next week.

"I want to commend all of the teachers, administrators, parents and public-health officials who are doing everything they can to give Maryland students the chance to get back safely into the classrooms," Hogan said.

Notes: Hogan announced that a mass vaccination site will open Feb. 25 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, which will join already running mass vaccination sites at the Baltimore Convention Center and the Six Flags America amusement park in Prince George's County. The governor announced the formation of the Maryland Vaccine Equity Task Force, which will address vaccine distribution in critical populations and minority communities.

Follow Greg Swatek on Twitter: @greg_swatek

(27) comments

mgoose806

Maybe Congressman Jamie Raskin (D) can help. Probably not, he is to busy trying to destroy Donald Trump. Or maybe President Biden(D). No he is too busy blaming Trump.. All well looks like we are doomed(D).

KellyAlzan

Trump lost. Get over it

bosco

Jenkins won. Get over it

bpswp

Per Hogan, "We are doing vaccinations currently at more than double the current supply that we are being given." How can you give vaccines when you don't have them to give? This statement by Hogan makes no sense.

threecents

Good question. Maybe he meant we are using a stockpile of vaccines we already had? FNP?

Reader1954

now it the time to kick out all men in politics & replace them with moms. Moms can multi-task and get more than one thing at a time done

public-redux

From your mouth to Devi's ears. And her 16 arms and hands.

bosco

I thought it was barbers and taxi drivers who know how to run the country. [beam]

pdl603

Wheezy and the democrats had a plan. COVID Vaccine production wasn’t one of them. But a farce of an impeachment was. 62000 deaths since Jan. 21 and is on pace to have 260000 deaths in his first 100 days. Thats roughly 65 percent of deaths prior to Jan. 21 (11 months). Whats up with that?

Piedmontgardener

Always good to have a marker on where crazy is. Thanks for being that guy, PDL.

pdl603

Thanks, facts are something that you won’t get from this paper or the MSM when it comes to Chairman Xiden and company. It is hard to dispute the fact that the senate has put COVID relief on hold for an unconstitutional dog and pony show. But they care about the little guy. The Chairman could have put an end to this farce, but no he couldn’t. Hate is the left’s guiding star these days. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

bosco

According to the Wall Street Journal, pdl, hatred of Trump is the only thing unifying the Democrats and that's why they keep their focus on him.

Greg F

When you include duly elected "chairmen xiden" in your statements, you show the lunacy you've adopted as a mantra and how soaked in kool-aid you are. You need help..seriously. Go find some news that isn't propaganda sometime and some independent sources that don't have paid talking heads like Fox and Newsmax, who are still backing the claims of rigged election machines (that was thoroughly debunked). Literally everything you have ever said here has been debunked by numerous independent sources.....and that's quite clear.

bosco

Oh, Doctor Fed Up GregF, so I've used Quid Pro Joe and Chairman Xiden. So what? Why don't you trip down memory lane a bit and recall some of the terms you used to describe Trump over the years? What's the matter? Don't like your turn in the barrel?

KellyAlzan

Hey Boscow, remember a few months ago when you were using my official badge with the name Kelly Alzan on it and you didn’t know that?? LOL

threecents

Interesting how some of the commentators think almost entirely in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans. Probably we would all be better off if we spent more time outside of that box.

Awteam2021

Bosco would mind pointing to where the “WSJ” said that? Are you confusing the WSJ with an opinion piece by the editorial board?

https://www.wsj.com/articles/why-democrats-want-a-trump-trial-11612828183

Awteam2021

More interesting Bosco is the number of people leaving the Republican Party since January 6, thanks to Trump. In addition the distain for Trump that motivates democrats and independents.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/us/politics/republicans-leaving-party.html

Greg F

You nailed that Piedmontgardener.

Greg F

There you are again, piddle, putting forth completely ludicrous statements of falsehoods. Once again, you ignore the FACT that t-rump ripped up the 90+ page plan democrats had for this very situation, that after he lied it even existed. He also dismantled the pandemic team he also said didn't exist. Then he lied about the entire thing saying it would go away like a "miracle" when it was documented by many press and agencies he was made aware through security briefings the seriousness of the matter, dissed those who tried to do anything and mocked mask wearing folks (much like his mocking of disabled people). He punted entirely any response to the pandemic in pursuit of the "stop the steal" coup preparations and blathering for months about rigged elections instead. You are so far into delusion-land that I fear if you have family they are equally nuts or in danger due to your irrational though processes as nuts as you seem to be.

public-redux

Throwing Trump under the bus again, pdl? Have you no shame? Yes, that 65% number is true but it could have been so much higher had Trump done anything useful to flatten the curve last year. Instead he racked up some big numbers that only serve to make Biden look better. But you wouldn't bring that up if you had any loyalty to Donald JOHN Trump. March 4 is coming.

Brookhawk

So I guess you have given up on Durham coming.

threecents

Name calling is inappropriate and beneath us... except in the cases where he who dealt deserves to smelt it. The JOHN smells pretty bad.

public-redux

Name calling? To the contrary, I'm showing respect. I think this started with George W. Bush. The W was a way to distinguish him from his father in an easy and respectful way. Then Barack HUSSEIN Obama. A respectful way to acknowledge him. Donald JOHN Trump was a bit less common. I think that had to do with deference to the First Lady. And now Joe ROBINETTE Biden.

bpswp

To date, 473,996 deaths; 60K since Jan 21; 100 days is approximately 3 months; at current rate that would be 180,000 deaths since Jan 21; 180K / 573996 (473,996 + 180,000) = 31%

threecents

Good thing the numbers of infections and hospitalizations have been going down dramatically lately.

Fredginrickey

Biden has made purchase agreements for 200 million doses this week. He’s working, not running the impeachment trial for the insurrectionist. I thought the virus was a hoax?

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