BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- More than 3,000 Marylanders are hospitalized with COVID-19, the highest total of any point during the pandemic, according to the latest data released by the Maryland Department of Health.
Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday declared a 30-day state of emergency in response to the surge in hospitalizations, and issued two executive orders to enhance the state's response to the pandemic. One gives the Maryland Department of Health greater authority to regulate hospital staffing and supplies. The other deploys 1,000 soldiers from the Maryland National Guard to assist testing sites, hospitals and nursing home facilities.
Hogan said hospitalizations have increased by 500% in the last seven weeks, and state officials are anticipating the number of patients could exceed 5,000 people in the coming weeks.
"The truth is the next 4-6 weeks will be the most challenging time of the pandemic," Hogan said.
The percentage of people testing positive rose to 27.44%, a 0.57% increase.
Health department data show that cases went up by 14,494, bringing the total of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 765,944 since the outset of the pandemic.
Deaths resulting from COVID-19 now stand at 11,706 after increasing by 48 over the past 24 hours.
Hospitalizations increased 311 over the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 3,057. Of those hospitalized, 2,503 are adults in acute care and another 503 are adults in intensive care. There are 41 children in acute care and 10 more in the ICU. The number of patients in intensive care surpassed 500 for the first time since May 2020.
The surge in hospitalizations comes as several hospitals have shifted to crisis standards of care to keep up with demand—and as the Maryland Hospital Association calls for the state to issue a limited public health emergency.
With healthcare workers stretched thin, the state has already established a surge operations center to help hospitals manage bed space and pledged $100 million to help hospitals and nursing homes deal with staffing shortages.
In an interview Sunday, Gov. Larry Hogan told CNN that officials are exploring every option at their disposal to shore up the medical workforce and keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.
"We've been talking about this problem for nearly a month and preparing for it, but you can't really manufacture doctors and nurses that don't exist," Hogan said in part.
The state has also expanded its testing operation, recently launching two new testing sites in Anne Arundel and Harford counties, which operate seven days a week.
On Monday, the governor's office announced that face coverings will now be required of employees and visitors in all state facilities. The state now also offers paid leave for booster shots.
There are 4,270,983 Marylanders fully vaccinated and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 91.9% of the state's adults have gotten at least one dose.
The state has administered 10,399,813 doses of the vaccine. Of those, 4,489,336 are first doses, 3,174 of them in the past 24 hours. Another 3,943,024 are second doses, 2,185 of them in the last day. The state has administered 1,639,494 booster doses, 9,448 in the past 24 hours.
A total of 327,959 Marylanders have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, 234 over the last 24 hours.
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