Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan outlined a long-term preparedness plan for dealing with COVID-19 Thursday, with a focus on treatments to keep people out of hospitals and keeping the state ready to respond to virus variants and a potential increase in cases.
Hogan said the state has nearly doubled its “Test to Treat” sites to almost 90 locations over the last three months to make it easier for people to get tested for the virus.
“Our state public health response has now fully transitioned from an emergency into an ongoing operation of state government,” Hogan said.
The governor also said the state health department is preparing dozens more urgent care and ambulatory care locations to be ready to provide these services by the fall.
Maryland also is aiming to maximize treatments for COVID-19, Hogan said. While therapies are a relatively new tool, they are becoming more prevalent. Although the treatments are not cures, they have a high success rate in keeping people out of the hospital.
“COVID may be with us for a long time into the future, so the very good news is that we have vaccines to protect ourselves and our community and medications to treat this disease safely and effectively,” said Dr. Howard Haft, executive director of the Maryland Primary Care Program.
Officials also gave an update on the state’s preparations for vaccinations for children under 5. Pending federal approval, Maryland will have COVID-19 vaccines available for infants and toddlers as early as June 20. The state completed the first order of those vaccines on Wednesday. The state expects to receive approximately 65,400 doses initially with additional doses to come.
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There are about 358,000 Maryland children in the new eligible age group.
“These COVID-19 vaccines, just like the other COVID-19 vaccines we have for other age groups, will help protect our youngest Marylanders against severe illness, hospitalization, or even death from this virus,” said Dr. Jinlene Chan, the deputy secretary for the health department.
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