ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) -- Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday announced the Maryland Department of Health has instituted new vaccination protocols at the state's hospitals and nursing homes requiring that staff provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19.
Workers at hospitals and nursing homes will be required to get their first vaccine shot by Sept. 1. Any worker who doesn't have proof of vaccination will be submitted to regular testing and screening.
Facilities that don't comply will face higher penalties and fines and tougher enforcement actions, he said.
While at least 18 nursing homes have staff vaccination rates at 95% or higher, there were some where fewer than half of workers and caretakers have received the shot, Hogan said, "which is unacceptable and which is endangering the lives of nursing home residents."
Hogan expressed concern that the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19 could lead to more outbreaks at nursing homes in the state.
While many of the state's largest medical systems, such as Johns Hopkins, the University of Maryland Medical System, MedStar and GBMC Healthcare, have already required employees to get the shot, not all hospitals in the state have a vaccination policy, Hogan said.
"And some continue to have far too many unvaccinated healthcare workers needlessly exposing their vulnerable patients and hospitals to COVID-19 and the Delta variant," he said. "Eight full months after vaccines have been available to healthcare workers, this is simply not acceptable."
Across Maryland, 94% of seniors have been vaccinated, compared with 79.5% of eligible adults overall, Hogan said.
Maryland reported 1,012 new COVID-19 cases and eight new deaths on Wednesday morning--the third time the state has surpassed 1,000 cases in the month of August.
The state's positivity rate is now at 4.92%, according to health department data.
More than 3.6 million Maryland adults are fully vaccinated.
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