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Maryland Hospitals Directed To Postpone Non-Emergency Procedures As COVID-19 Hospitalizations Top 1,200

BALTIMORE (WJZ) -- With Maryland's COVID-19 hospitalizations topping 1,200 on Friday, the state is directing hospitals to free up beds and delay non-emergency procedures.

The measure was announced earlier this week as part of a series of emergency actions Gov. Larry Hogan and state health officials are taking to keep Maryland's hospitals from being overwhelmed this winter.

"We are triggering a new round of actions for Maryland hospitals, including making available all staffed bed capacity and reducing non-urgent medical surgeries," the governor said Friday.

The number of patients being treated for COVID-19 rose by 37 since Thursday, bringing the total to 1,204. That was the threshold set by the state Wednesday to trigger one phase of emergency actions.

Should the number of hospitalizations reach 1,500, hospitals would be directed to roll out pandemic plans, which lay out a blueprint for how they'll maximize staffed surgical bed and ICU capacity.

On Wednesday, the state launched a surge operations center to help hospitals manage a potential surge of incoming patients and to coordinate the transfer of patients to alternate care sites.

The state also won support from the Maryland Board of Physicians for a plan to let licensed heath care workers from out of state practice in Maryland and to provide temporary licenses for retired workers.

Hogan said most of the state's hospitalizations are among unvaccinated patients, whom he said are at "grave risk" of severe illness and death.

He said preliminary data indicates the Omicron variant is significantly more transmissible than other strains, and it's expected to overtake the Delta variant as the biggest source of new infections.

With studies suggesting that booster shots provide more protection against COVID-19, he said it's now more important than ever that Marylanders get their booster shots if they haven't already done so.

"The bottom line: if you are unvaccinated, get vaccinated. If you are vaccinated, get your booster shot," the governor said.

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