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Governor Allocates $100M in Emergency Staffing for COVID

Cases of COVID, including the latest omicron strain, are expected to climb. To address the problem, Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday allocated $100 million in emergency funding for urgent staffing needs at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes.

Hospital Lights
(TNS) - As of Tuesday morning, Maryland hospitals were caring for 1,457 COVID-19 patients, and nearly 20% of hospital beds across the state were occupied by someone with the virus.

Cases of the disease, including the latest omicron strain, are expected to further climb and stress the understaffed facilities.

To address the problem, Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday allocated $100 million in emergency funding for urgent staffing needs at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes.

Hogan made the announcement virtually from Government House, where he is quarantined after testing positive for the virus Monday.

“I’m doing fine and currently only experiencing some cold-like symptoms,” he said. “I attribute that to the fact that I have been fully vaccinated and that I got a booster shot as soon as I was eligible.”

All of Maryland’s COVID-19 key health metrics are up, including a statewide positivity rate of 11.6%, Hogan said.

“Today, we’re reporting a single-day high of 6,218 new cases,” he said. “Most concerning, hospitalizations are now up to 1,392, which is an increase of more than 180% in the last month.”

COVID-19 hospitalizations in Maryland could reach “over 2,000” and peak in mid- to late-January, Hogan said.

“That is typically around when we also have the peak of the flu season causing additional strain on our health care system,” he said.

The new funding includes $50 million through Maryland’s Health Services Cost Review Commission to immediately stabilize hospital workforce and staffing needs.

It will also cover $25 million each for hospitals and nursing homes to expand availability of COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines, and $30 million for schools to purchase COVID-19 testing resources.

Additionally, 500,000 at-home rapid COVID-19 tests will be available at BWI Airport and through local health departments.

Hogan will also mobilize the Maryland National Guard to provide support personnel to expand testing sites and hours, and the Vaccine Equity Task Force will offer COVID-19 testing at vaccine clinics in vulnerable communities.

Hogan called for the federal government’s help, perhaps to invoke the Defense Production Act, to expand COVID-19 testing for Americans.

He also urged Marylanders to get vaccinated or boosted.

On Tuesday, 9% of unvaccinated Marylanders accounted for 75% of the state’s COVID-19 hospitalizations.

At that time, the state’s online COVID-19 Data Dashboard, due to an ongoing network security problem, lacked case numbers for individual counties.

314 patients waiting

Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said 30% of patients in intensive care units across the state have COVID-19.

“We anticipate the number of people who require hospitalization to continue to increase and potentially exceed Maryland’s peak of 1,952 last January,” Delbridge said.

He also talked of current hospital staff levels compared to last year.

“While there is plenty of physical space within our hospitals, there are simply not the same number of staff members,” Delbridge said. “During January of 2020, hospitals were able to muster enough clinical staff to keep 8,400 beds at the ready. In recent weeks, they’ve been unable to staff as many as 8,000, or 5% less.”

Maryland hospitals on Tuesday were occupied at 92% of their staff capacity, he said.

“The necessity to care for more people with COVID-19 means that resources will not be as available to care for other less urgent problems,” Delbridge said.

“Higher in-patient occupancy means less bed availability for patients who do require hospital admission,” he said.

“As of this morning across Maryland, there are 314 patients in hospital emergency departments who are waiting for a room to become available,” Delbridge said. “Three-quarters of hospital emergency departments are currently alerting the state’s emergency medical services system that they are at their capacities and should be avoided if at all possible. More than 50 EMS ambulances are at emergency departments waiting to transfer care responsibilities from EMTs and paramedics to hospital personnel.”

This week, the University of Maryland Medical System will surpass the highest number of admitted COVID-19 patients since the start of the pandemic, Dr. David Marcozzi, the COVID-19 incident commander for UMMS, said.

“In the 20 years of practicing emergency medicine, within the military and as a civilian, these are some of the most challenging times I have ever seen in health care,” he said.

Marcozzi also talked of people who are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Without question, this is the main reason for continued increases in COVID hospitalizations,” he said. “Hospitalizations from COVID are largely now a preventable problem if you get fully vaccinated, which means getting a booster.”

Find testing, vaccinations

COVID-19 testing at the Allegany County Fairgrounds, 11400 Moss Ave., will be open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 24 and 31.

Testing is also available at that location 2 to 7 p.m. Mondays and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesdays.

“We encourage all county residents to get tested before gathering with friends and family for the holidays,” Alison Robinson, clinic coordinator, said via press release from the Allegany County Health Department Monday. “For the public’s convenience, the testing clinic staff will be offering testing on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve at the usual times, even though the health department will be closed on those days.”

Appointments are also available for upcoming Moderna booster clinics at the fairgrounds.

For assistance registering for an appointment, county residents can call the COVID-19 call center at 240-650-3999.

To register online:

For Dec. 22, visit

For Dec. 29, visit

ACHD offers the following COVID-19 vaccinations on a walk-in basis 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Wednesdays at the fairgrounds:

—First and second doses of Moderna vaccine (age 18 and older)

—First and second doses of Pfizer vaccine (age 12 and older)

—Booster doses of Pfizer vaccine (age 16 and older)

COVID-19 vaccines and boosters are also widely available in the community at local pharmacies, urgent care clinics, and some primary care providers.

Vaccine clinic information is also available at, or by calling the state’s multilingual call center at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).

Teresa McMinn is the Digital Editor for the Cumberland Times-News. She can be reached at 304-639-2371 or


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