First Omicron Variant Case Found in the U.S. and More Notes from Governor Hogan’s 12/1 Press Conference Providing Covid Update

by MCS Staff

Governor Hogan is holding a press conference to provide a Covid update to Marylanders.

Below you’ll see notes from his press conference, including tweets by his Deputy Communications Director, Kata Hall:

– On Monday, the governor held an emergency meeting of our COVID-19 Response Team and received a briefing on the Omicron variant, the latest strain of COVID-19 to be designated as a “variant of concern.”
– Just moments ago, the CDC confirmed the first Omicron variant case in the United States (Found in Southern California in someone who traveled to South Africa).
– According to public health experts, it could take several weeks before enough data is gathered to determine if Omicron causes more severe illness than earlier strains or how effective current vaccines/treatments are against it.
– Gov Hogan: “We continue to hope for the best, while also actively preparing for the worst…We are taking every precaution, and preparing to mobilize all available resources because our highest priority is to continue keeping Marylanders safe.”
– VARIANT SURVEILLANCE. Maryland currently has one of the strongest variant surveillance systems in America to track various mutations of the virus, and we are now sequencing at nearly three times the level recommended by public health experts
– Earlier today, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved an emergency procurement to acquire additional special reagents and supplies to further expand our capacity to track and detect variants of COVID-19.
– The Maryland Board of Public Works also extended the state’s sequencing agreements with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, and we are encouraging all our lab partners to immediately ramp up their surveillance.
– COVID-19 TESTING. Getting tested remains one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family. PCR testing remains widely available at hundreds of locations.
– RAPID TESTS. Last week, the governor announced that another 500,000 rapid antigen tests are being distributed free-of-charge at multiple locations across the state, including local health departments, libraries, and community centers.
– RAPID TESTS AT BWI AIRPORT. Maryland Department of Health and Maryland Department of Travel will immediately make rapid tests and guidance available at the international terminal of

@BWI_Airport for the nearly 7,000 passengers who arrive each week.
– There is also a new urgent care center at BWI Airport, which offers both COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters to travelers.
– Gov Hogan: “We are beginning to see the anticipated seasonal uptick in some of our key health metrics…the most important thing you can do right now to maintain immunity and protect yourself and your family from severe illness is to get vaccinated.”
– VACCINE UPDATE: -Maryland has administered nearly 9.4 million COVID-19 vaccines -99.9% of Marylanders 65+ have been vaccinated -88.9% of Marylanders 18+ have been vaccinated -Nearly 118,000 Marylanders age 5-11 have been vaccinated
– Gov Hogan: “If you are already vaccinated, the single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot.” *Data continues to show waning immunity after 6 months.*

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