Maryland reinstates state of emergency as COVID-19 surge strains hospital resources The state's National Guard will open 20 new testing sites outside of hospitals to meet increased demand.
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Maryland reinstates state of emergency as COVID-19 surge strains hospital resources

Gov. Larry Hogan has ordered a 30-day state of emergency in Maryland. Brian Witte/AP Photo hide caption

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Brian Witte/AP Photo

As infection rates of COVID-19 reach record highs throughout the region, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has declared a 30-day state of emergency. Hogan ended Maryland's previous COVID-related state of emergency in July last year, after more than 15 months.

"The truth is that the next four to six weeks will be the most challenging time of the entire pandemic," Hogan said in a statement. "All of the emergency actions we are taking today are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary in the very difficult days and weeks ahead."

The latest COVID-19 surge in the state has left more than 3,057 people currently hospitalized — the highest number since the beginning of the pandemic. Maryland already set a new record last week with more than 2,000 hospitalizations, prompting Hogan to pledge $100 million in funding for hospitals.

Officials expect that total to increase to more than 5,000 hospitalizations in coming weeks, as the delta and omicron variants and the winter flu spread throughout the region. D.C. and Virginia have also been hit with a record increase in hospitalizations, totaling at 782 and 2,736 respectively.

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Meanwhile, all public schools in Prince George's County and 11 in Montgomery County will offer virtual instruction through mid-January, due to rising COVID cases among students and staff.

Hogan also signed two executive orders Tuesday: One authorizes the Maryland Department of Health to regulate hospital beds and supplies, and to assist health care facilities that are facing staff shortages. A second executive order deploys 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to support hospitals, nursing facilities, and testing sites across the state. The guard will also open 20 COVID testing sites outside of hospitals, to divert residents visiting emergency rooms to receive a test.

Hospitals in the state have already been taking steps to deal with the overwhelming number of COVID patients this winter, including reducing some non-urgent medical procedures, and moving patients at short-staffed hospitals to those with greater capacity. Maryland also set up "surge operation centers" to accommodate patient influx.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news site of WAMU.

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