- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday that the state is looking to recruit up to 2,000 more health care workers to help address the surge in coronavirus hospitalizations.

“The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our health care system and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our health care workers who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress,” Mr. Hogan said during a press conference.

Both health care professionals and support staff are needed to work at hospitals, nursing homes, test sites and clinics, he said. Those interested can apply at MarylandMedNow.com.

The Republican governor also issued an order giving broader authority to credential emergency medical technicians and paramedics.

State officials also are reaching out to people who have signed up for the Maryland Medical Reserve Corps.

Moreover, the state is requesting that colleges and universities expedite the necessary license tests for students in their final semester who are qualified for “early exit,” and to award academic credit to other students willing to help.

Maryland has recorded more than 1,000 daily new coronavirus cases for nearly a month, and if that rate continues officials said they will need to recruit “upwards” of 2,000 to 3,000 people.

As of Tuesday, Mr. Hogan said 1,583 people are currently hospitalized with the virus, which is the highest number since early May. Hospitalizations reportedly have increased 51% over the last two weeks, and the number is expected to hit “a record high” within the next few days.

“I believe most of the educated projections say that we are not near the peak yet, and that the worst part of this crisis is still ahead of us over the next month or two,” Mr. Hogan said.

With more than 20 hospitals at more than 90% capacity, facilities are encouraged to begin making emergency adjustments including increasing or decreasing staff, reducing noncritical elective procedures and transferring patients to other places.

Moreover, hospitals must submit an emergency surge plan for staffing capacity adjustments and adding beds to the state by Dec. 8.

Mr. Hogan also said during Tuesday’s briefing that the state is expecting to receive about 150,000 doses in the first round of vaccine shipments, “but the bad news is it’s not enough.”

“That’s a fraction of what we need, it doesn’t even cover half our essential workers,” he said.

State health officials reported 2,765 new cases on Tuesday, raising the total to 201,135, and 30 additional deaths, bringing the total to 4,516. The seven-day average daily case positivity rate is 7.33%, which exceeds the 5% benchmark set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, Mr. Hogan imposed harsher restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, including limiting bars and restaurants to 50% of their indoor capacity, requiring dine-in services to close from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and limiting gym, retail, religious and other establishments to 50% capacity.

• Emily Zantow can be reached at ezantow@washingtontimes.com.

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