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Maryland Covid Case Data Remains Offline; Doctors Warn Of Surging Hospitalizations As State Makes Emergency Hospital Plans

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- Cleaning crews in protective gear sprayed disinfectant inside Baltimore's Dunbar High School Wednesday, which remains closed due to a covid outbreak. At Bowie State University, an outbreak of 80 cases is linked to gatherings off-campus.

While many schools are updating their case numbers, much of the Maryland Department of Health's Covid-19 dashboard remains offline because of a cyberattack. Case numbers have not been updated since December 3rd.

"The hospitals need to be able to plan for the future too and not knowing what's going on with the case rates means they can't project what their hospitalizations are going to be in two weeks," said Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman, who relies on the state data and said he cannot get those case numbers independently.

The Maryland Department of Health said in a statement Wednesday they are still working to determine the cause of the cyberattack on their system.

Right now, 1,151 Covid-19 patients are in Maryland hospitals. Pittman said in his county, hospitalizations have "more than doubled" in the past two weeks, placing hospitals "under a level of stress that is unacceptable."

Bob Atlas, the CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association, told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren the situation is at a "tipping point."

"We are very concerned. Our beds statewide are 93% occupied, which is for all intensive purposes full, and we foresee covid cases rising through the holidays," Atlas said.

Calvert County's only hospital is now at capacity.

The state has opened a "surge operation center" to coordinate with every hospital and transfer patients if some facilities become overwhelmed.

Many doctors tell WJZ their patients are trending younger—and many have not yet been vaccinated. They said the primary variant remains delta but they worry about an omicron surge.

"Now they see a lot of patients who are unvaccinated, and they know if they were vaccinated they probably wouldn't be there," Atlas said.

Almost 25,000 people in Maryland have received their booster shot in the past 24 hours.

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