Maryland Declares State of Emergency as COVID Hospitalizations Hit All-Time High

A massive surge of COVID-19 cases in the state has caused Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to declare a 30-day state of emergency.

Hogan made the announcement at a news conference on Tuesday and signed two executive orders that aim to curb the spread of COVID-19. One order was the mobilization of 1,000 members of the state's National Guard to assist hospitals around the state. Another order grants the Maryland Department of Health the ability to regulate hospital staffing and resources.

"While we can't manufacture doctors and nurses who don't exist," Hogan said during the conference, "we have continued to do everything we possibly can do at the state level in order to help our hospitals withstand this surge and to save lives.

Around 250 National Guard members will assist at COVID-19 testing sites, while others will be assigned to two new state-run sites at the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health and Anne Arundel Medical Center. Some members will also assist in the opening of 20 new hospital-adjacent testing sites. These deployments come as Maryland hits a total of 3,057 COVID-related hospitalizations, which is a new record for the state. The state is expecting to reach more than 5,000 hospitalizations.

"The truth is that the next four to six weeks will be the most challenging of the entire pandemic," said Hogan. "All of the emergency actions we are taking today are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary in the very difficult days and weeks ahead."

Larry Hogan
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan declared a state of emergency in Maryland on Tuesday to help fight a surge of COVID-19 in the state. Pictured, Hogan holds a news conference on the state's COVID-19 situation, at the Maryland State Capitol on August 5, 2021 in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The health department order will enable the secretary to direct and expedite the transfer of patients between facilities and create alternate care sites.

The order allows interstate reciprocity for health care licenses, allows inactive health care practitioners to practice without reinstating their licenses and enables regulation of elective medical procedures as necessary.

Maryland also is authorizing booster shots for 12- to 15-year-olds.

Hogan said he was scheduled to participate in a call with the White House on Tuesday. He said he would urge President Joe Biden's administration to increase the distribution of monoclonal antibodies, rapid COVID-19 tests and antiviral pills.

Hogan said people need to get back to taking stronger precautions as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 surges by "avoiding crowds, keeping your distance, washing your hands and yes, wearing the damn masks."

The governor also said that he is "doing fine" after testing positive for COVID-19 last month. Hogan said he had a 10-day "staycation" in isolation in the basement of the governor's residence, where he worked and kept in touch with staff.

"For me, it was like a pretty bad cold, and that's because I was fully vaccinated and boosted," Hogan said, as he continued urging the unvaccinated to get shot and for eligible people to get boosters.

The governor also said he received monoclonal antibody treatment early on.

Dr. Ted Delbridge, executive director of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems, said Maryland hospitals are feeling the strain of the surge, with 3,006 adults and 51 children hospitalized with the virus.

"Our hospitals are struggling to deal with the numbers of sick people coming to them," Delbridge said. "As of yesterday afternoon, more than 600 people were waiting in emergency departments for their turn to be admitted to a hospital bed. In fact, our emergency departments are as busy as they have ever been."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Maryland Testing
In response to a surge of COVID cases in the state, Maryland hospitals are expected to get more assistance from the Maryland National Guard with 1,000 members being ordered to assist multiple testing facilities around the state. Pictured, Dawn Canova, clinical manager for outpatient wound care at Carroll Hospital takes samples from people to test them for the coronavirus at a drive-thru station in the hospital's parking garage on March 16, 2020 in Westminster, Maryland. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images