Maryland is ramping up efforts to track and detect variants of COVID-19, the governor said Wednesday, moments after officials announced the detection of an omicron variant case in California — the first in the United States.
Gov. Larry Hogan said state health officials are closely monitoring the variant. He urged residents to get vaccinated and get booster shots.
“The single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot,” Hogan said at a news conference. “Throughout this entire year, we have repeatedly stressed that we are in a race between the vaccines and the variants. Because we are one of the most highly vaccinated states, we have been able to stay ahead of the virus, but we cannot become complacent, and we do need to remain vigilant.”
The state Board of Public Works approved emergency funds Wednesday for supplies to track and detect variants. Rapid COVID-19 antigen tests will be available at the international terminal of BWI Marshall Airport.
Hogan did not create new mandates. He instead urged Marylanders to keep getting vaccinated and tested.
“While I do not believe in blanket mandates, I do believe in personal responsibility,” he said.
In Prince George’s County, officials extended the indoor mask mandate as the whole state sees an uptick in the COVID-19 positivity rate. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said she was concerned about omicron. She thanked residents for their efforts to slow the spread of the virus.
Also Wednesday, the Maryland Board of Education voted unanimously to extend its emergency mask mandate. They asked the state superintendent to come up with standards for eventually lifting the mandate.