ANNAPOLIS, MD—As hospitals in the region and across the country experience an increase in Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) admissions, Governor Larry Hogan today announced a series of new mitigation actions, along with preparedness efforts for potential fall and winter COVID-19 and flu surges in Maryland.
“After meeting with our multi-agency public health task force yesterday and reviewing all of the data, I am announcing these steps to give our hospitals more tools to expand bed capacity for pediatric patients,” said Governor Hogan. “We also continue to encourage Marylanders to be COVIDReady, so that we remain one of the most vaccinated and boosted states, and stay ahead of the virus.”
Hospitals Directed to Utilize Additional State Funding to Prioritize Pediatric ICU Staffing. RSV hospitalizations are increasing earlier and more rapidly than in previous years, with the 0-2 age group comprising 57% of hospitalizations. On October 14, the Maryland Department of Health announced $80 million in additional funding for healthcare providers across the state. Hospitals will receive $25 million and have been directed in award letters issued today to utilize these resources to increase the hiring and recruitment of staff. For facilities with pediatric ICU and/or inpatient beds, awards should prioritize staffing those units appropriately before considering other non-pediatric units. All hospitals are also strongly urged to collaborate with neighboring hospitals on pediatric patient care coordination.
Critical Care Coordination Center Expanded to Include Pediatric Surge Operations. To help mitigate an increase in hospital admissions, particularly among children experiencing RSV, Rhinovirus, or Enterovirus D68, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) will expand its Critical Care Coordination Center (C4) capability to include pediatric surge operations. This action will optimize existing capacity, increase the statewide capacity of pediatric ICU beds, and facilitate the transfer of pediatric patients to available beds in Maryland hospitals and Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC.
State Continues Joint COVID-19/Flu Shot Campaign. Earlier this month, state officials further expanded COVIDReady Maryland, the state’s long-term preparedness plan, by adding the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine booster shot for residents five years old and older. In addition, adults now have the option of receiving a Novavax monovalent booster if they have not previously received a booster and if they cannot or will not receive mRNA vaccines.
To date, more than 710,000 Marylanders have received the COVID-19 bivalent booster, further protecting themselves against severe illness, hospitalization, and death. With flu hospitalizations also increasing earlier and faster than in previous years, state health officials continue to encourage Marylanders to get their COVID-19 and flu shots simultaneously. Starting next week, state health officials will launch a new “Flooster” television, radio, and social media ad campaign to amplify this message.
The state maintains a robust vaccination infrastructure of more than 900 providers. Some locations offer both COVID-19 and flu shots during the same visit. Find a vaccination clinic near you.
Enhanced Awareness and Outreach. The state’s GoVAX Call Center (1-855-MD-GOVAX) continues to be available seven days a week. In addition to providing a number of services for help with getting tested and boosted, the call center is launching a texting campaign focused on preventing COVID-19, flu, and RSV.