State Continues Preparations for Convergence of Delta and Omicron Variants
State Health Officials Direct Hospitals to Update Emergency Capacity Plans, Maximize Use of Regional Hospitals and Alternate Care Sites
Hospitals Ordered to Establish Community-Based Monoclonal Antibody Infusion Programs
Per the State of Maryland:
ANNAPOLIS, MD—As the state surpassed 1,000 COVID-19 hospitalizations today, Governor Larry Hogan announced a series of actions to ensure hospitals are prepared for current and future surges due to the convergence of the flu, and the Delta and Omicron variants.
“Maryland has begun to see an uptick in our key health metrics, and we are increasingly concerned by the sharp rise in hospitalizations, which have doubled over the last three weeks,” said Governor Hogan. “State health officials are taking these additional actions as we continue to use every tool at our disposal to help Maryland hospitals have the resources they need to respond to this and future hospital surges.”
Enhanced statewide preparedness for the COVID-19 and Omicron variant surge includes the following:
Hospitals Directed to Update Emergency Plans, Maximize Use of Regional Hospitals and Alternate Care Sites. The Maryland Department of Health (MDH) is directing hospitals to update their existing emergency plans by Dec. 15 and immediately take steps to maximize hospital bed capacity.
- Implement practices to balance patient admissions, and “level load” the number of COVID-19 inpatients versus the number of non-COVID-19 inpatients;
- Maximize available staffed medical-surgical and ICU bed capacity; and
- Balance patient capacity by maximizing the use of all regional hospitals and alternate care sites;
Read the MDH order here.
State health officials have also directed hospitals to establish community based monoclonal antibody (mAb) infusion programs, including the capability to do in-home infusions. These activities will be funded by Health Service Cost Review Commission grants announced earlier this year. Downstream mAb infusions in the community can prevent Marylanders from ending up in the hospital and are in the hospitals’ best interest to make these programs successful.
Providers are strongly encouraged to offer monoclonal antibody infusions to COVID-positive patients. More information on this treatment is available at covidlink.maryland.gov.
Enhance Healthcare Staffing. State health officials are urging the Maryland Board of Physicians, Maryland Board of Pharmacy, and Maryland Board of Nursing to take the necessary steps to:
- Permit the temporary licensure of recently retired licensees; and
- Simplify or eliminate the administrative burdens for interstate compact or out-of-state health care practitioners to practice in Maryland.
Read the MDH letter here.
In addition, the governor has announced that emergency legislation will be introduced next month to provide hospital systems with more tools to help address staffing shortages.
This is in addition to proactive steps the governor announced in September to increase the state’s nursing workforce.
Expanded COVID-19 Booster Shots to 16- and 17-Year-Olds. With data showing waning immunity against COVID-19 after six months, and following yesterday’s approvals by the FDA and CDC, all Marylanders ages 16 and 17 are urged to get a Pfizer booster shot for additional protection against the virus. Maryland also expanded the already eligible group of Marylanders 18 and older to receive any authorized or approved COVID-19 vaccine as a booster dose.
All eligible Marylanders are strongly recommended to get a flu shot at the earliest opportunity. Flu shots can be administered at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine shot.
To find a clinic, visit covidvax.maryland.gov or call the state’s multilingual call center, available seven days a week, at 1-855-MD-GOVAX (1-855-634-6829).