The state will provide $100 million in emergency funding to help beef up staff at its hospitals and nursing homes, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

His remarks come just one day after he tested positive for COVID-19, and as the state’s positivity rate is approaching 12% and COVID-19 related hospitalizations have exceeded 1,300.

Gov. Larry Hogan speaks at a virtual news conference on Tuesday afternoon. Hogan tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday. (Screenshot)

Hogan emphasized that despite his positive diagnosis, he is “doing fine” and is only experiencing “cold-like symptoms.”

“To further bolster our statewide response, today I am announcing an additional $100 million in emergency funding to address urgent staffing needs at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes,” Hogan said at a virtual news conference at Government House in Annapolis.

“We are committing $50 million through the Maryland Health Services Cost Review Commission to immediately stabilize hospital workforce and staffing needs. We are also providing another $50 million for hospitals and nursing homes that will also help to expand the availability of COVID-19 testing, treatments, and vaccines,” Hogan added.

Additionally, the state will provide an additional $30 million to supply schools with testing kits, Hogan said.

The days and hours of operations at state testing sites in Anne Arundel and Prince George’s counties will immediately be expanded and the Maryland National Guard will be deployed to help with that effort, Hogan said.

The governor reassured Marylanders that even though the rapid spread of the Omicron and Delta variants is cause for concern, there is no reason to panic.

“This is not March of 2020. We have the tools and the resources in place to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. We must remain vigilant. And we cannot let our guard down. We have withstood these surges before. We will do so again.”

Hogan pleaded with the 9% of Marylanders who have yet to be vaccinated to do so as soon as possible and asked those who are fully vaccinated to get a booster shot as soon as they are eligible.

Dr. Ted Delbridge, who is the executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said COVID-19-related hospitalizations are likely to continue to increase in the short term.

“Our health care system is resilient. But it is stressed. And it is likely to become even more stressed in the weeks to come. If we want our emergency departments to be ready to care for emergencies, we need to reserve them for that.”

Delbridge urged Marylanders to take advantage of their primary care providers and local clinics to give hospitals some relief.

There are 627,438 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Tuesday morning, according to the Department of Health, and 11,022 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is 11.64%, which is more than double the rate CDC guidelines consider to be within containment levels. Maryland has conducted almost 15.7 million COVID-19 tests.

Ninety-one percent of the state’s adult population has received at least one dose of the vaccine, and about 65% have received both doses of the vaccine, according to the Department.

Nationwide, about 62% of the population or about 204 million people are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC.

This article was originally published on on Tuesday, December 21, 2021.

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