MD Sees COVID-19 Decline As State Of Emergency Continues: Hogan

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MARYLAND — Fifteen days after declaring a state of emergency in Maryland to combat the omicron variant, Gov. Larry Hogan said metrics showed the spread of COVID-19 was slowing.

"All of the current data is showing very encouraging trends, with many of our key health metrics consistently and substantially declining," Hogan said. "But we're not out of the woods."

While earlier projections showed a potential surge to 5,000 patients hospitalized with COVID-19, "I think we're going to dodge the bullet on that one," Hogan said.

"We don't anticipate, at least with this current variant in this current surge, that we're going to reach that peak," Hogan said. "I think it's going to keep coming down, and we're hopeful."

Omicron — which is four to five times more contagious than other coronavirus variants — accounts for more than 95 percent of the state's recent lab-confirmed COVID-19 cases, Hogan said at a news conference Thursday.

He declared a state of emergency Jan. 4 to help the state and its hospitals handle the increase in infections. Since then, the state has opened nearly 20 COVID-19 testing sites and is now offering funding to certain health care centers providing post-coronavirus care.

"Because of the rapidly declining numbers, I'm hopeful that in another 15 days we will be in a position where we don't need to extend" the state of emergency, Hogan said Thursday.

Here are some of the encouraging metrics Hogan cited:

  • Fewer than 3,000 patients with COVID-19 are hospitalized in Maryland for the first time since Jan. 2, the governor said. A total of 2,983 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 in Maryland, state health officials reported Thursday. The peak was Jan. 11 with 3,462 COVID-19 patients in Maryland hospitals.

  • Maryland's COVID-19 positivity rate peaked 15 days ago at 29.98 percent. It is now 18 percent.

  • The daily vaccination rate has increased by 60 percent since Hogan declared the state of emergency.

  • The case rate peaked 12 days ago and has already declined by 44 percent.

  • Pediatric hospitalizations account for roughly 1 percent of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

"We've reached the point at some of our hospital systems where they are placing adult patients and pediatric beds because of the excess capacity," Hogan said.

In the past day, the state has reported 70 people died from COVID-19.

"Deaths are always a lagging indicator, usually a couple of weeks behind cases and hospitalizations," Hogan said. "Unfortunately, we do anticipate the number of deaths to continue to rise in the short term before peaking and then also beginning to decline along with all of the other metrics."

The deaths lag seven to 10 days behind other indicators, according to Dr. Ted Delbridge, who is the executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

"We're very encouraged by our substantially improving situation," Hogan said. "But the next 10 days to two weeks are really going to be critical."

Said Hogan: "We ask Marylanders to continue to remain vigilant ... wearing a mask, avoiding crowds, watching your distance, staying home if you feel sick, and most importantly getting tested, getting vaccinated and getting boosted."

Courtesy of the Maryland Department of Health.
Courtesy of the Maryland Department of Health.

More COVID-19 Testing Sites Added

The latest state-run testing site is open through LifeBridge Health in Carroll County, Hogan said Thursday.

A new site is on track to open Friday at GBMC in Towson.

A federally supported site at St. Agnes Hospital will open Saturday.

The state provided $100 million to hospitals and nursing homes and on Thursday reported it was offering $5 million to these specialty hospitals providing care for COVID-19 patients discharged from acute hospitals:

  • Sheppard Pratt

  • Kennedy Krieger Institute

  • Mt. Washington Pediatric

  • Adventist Healthcare Rehabilitation

  • Encompass Health Rehabilitation

Funding will support staffing needs, according to officials.

The governor also gave an update on his wife.

First Lady Is 'Doing Well'

First Lady Yumi Hogan tested positive for COVID-19 Thursday morning.

"She's doing well with just very mild symptoms and she's isolating at [the] Government House," Hogan said. "Like me, the First Lady is vaccinated and boosted, and I cannot stress this enough, but no one should think of a booster as just a bonus or an extra dose. Getting your booster shot as soon as you're eligible is absolutely critical to protecting you from severe illness."

Hogan tested positive for the virus Dec. 20 and has since been cleared.

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This article originally appeared on the Baltimore Patch

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