Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Thursday that state employees working in congregate settings will be required to show proof of vaccination or follow strict mask and testing guidelines by Sept. 1.
As the delta variant of the coronavirus and lagging vaccinations fuel a nationwide spike in cases, the new mandate applies to state employees at the Department of Health and state health care facilities, the Department of Juvenile Services, the Department of Public Safety and the Correctional Services and Department of Veterans Affairs.
“These actions are being taken to further protect our most vulnerable citizens. ... The state will lead by example with our own employees," Hogan said.
Hogan urged private operators of the state’s 227 nursing homes to institute similar vaccination requirements for employees. Hogan said the state is seeing an uptick in unvaccinated staff infections, which was a source of earlier outbreaks among nursing home residents.
Each child care facility, youth camp, local school system and authority may set their own policies regarding masks and face coverings, Hogan said.
“I don’t care what misinformation or conspiracy theories that you have heard, the plain or simple fact is that these vaccines are working," Hogan said. "Nearly every single person hospitalized or dying with COVID-19 in Maryland right now is unvaccinated.”
"Please - just get the damn vaccine," he said.
Community transmission of COVID-19 is high in most of the D.C. area and Maryland, spurring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to recommend masks.
Maryland reported a total of 471,334 confirmed cases and 9,622 deaths Thursday. Prince George's County has the most cases in the state with more than 87,000 confirmed cases and Montgomery County is not far behind with more than 72,000 confirmed cases.
There are more than 330 people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 and 87 of them are receiving intensive care, the state reports.
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