More than 2,000 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized across Maryland, leading to calls for Gov. Larry Hogan to reinstate a limited public health emergency declaration.
"Unlike previous spikes, you know, we're depleted in terms of staff available to care for everyone," Maryland Hospital Association President and CEO Bob Atlas told News4.
Atlas said a limited declaration would provide hospitals with the flexibility and funding needed to combat further disruptions to health care services and staff shortages.
"The main thing that we need is what we call expanded scope of practice for some of our personnel," Atlas said. "In order to keep the doors open and beds available we need financial support."
Prince George's, Montgomery, Anne Arundel and Frederick counties are all seeing a steady increase in hospitalizations or setting new pandemic records.
Montgomery County Exectuvie Marc Elrich voiced his support Wednesday for a limited public health emergency.
"This action will greatly help our hospitals in dealing with the surge, but I also agree with Tom Perez, who recently called on Governor Hogan to extend hazard pay to all of our state’s frontline workforce," Elrich said.
In a statement released Wednesday, Governor Larry Hogan said the state has already taken a number of steps to handle the surge, including committing $100 million to hospitals and nursing homes.
Hogan said the state has established a surge operations center to watch capacity levels and fully utilize alternative care sites. Hospitals are also required to suspend elective surgeries and manage patient levels.
"Whatever resources hospital systems have requested, we are providing," Hogan said.
"Again, this is not March of 2020. It’s important to use common sense and take precautions, but we have the tools, resources, and strategies in place to protect ourselves. We are closely monitoring this surge and will continue to provide updates
as additional actions are taken.”
But with cases surging and several hospitals already operating under crisis standards of care or other contingency plans, Atlas said now is the time to reinstate a limited declaration.
"We just need all the resources we can bring to bear," he said.
Hospitalizations are at their highest level since the pandemic began.
Maryland reported more than 10,800 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the largest jump in cases ever reported.
“Under a state health directive, hospitals are required to implement pandemic plans to suspend elective surgeries and manage their patient census,” Hogan said in a release. He called on residents to get vaccinations and booster shots.
The number of COVID-19 tests coming back positive has rocketed to nearly 20%, roughly quadrupling over the past month.
Such a high number would indicate more testing should be done to contain the virus. Maryland has had a goal of remaining under 10% positivity in each jurisdiction.
Prince George’s County Health Officer Dr. Ernest Carter said hospitalizations there are as high as they were in February.
“I am extremely concerned that the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 in the County has increased 27% since last week,” he said in a release.
Carter encouraged residents to get vaccines and booster doses. He also asked people to turn to urgent care or their physician for non-emergency illnesses.