VIDEO | Md. Expands Testing, Mask Distribution, Nursing Home Protection Measures
Maryland is taking new action to protect residents and staff at nursing homes and minimize the risk of exposure to COVID-19. The state plans to open five more hospital-based testing sites by the end of next week, including at UM Shore Regional Health in Talbot County and at TidalHealth in Wicomico County.
And, according to Governor Larry Hogan, the state Department of Health plans to start distributing a total of 20-million N95 and KN95 masks, through several channels including local health departments.
Hogan made the announcements during a visit to Easton Thursday.
“We are encouraging all Marylanders to continue doing the things that can keep us safe: getting vaccinated and boosted, avoiding crowds, keeping your distance, washing your hands, and wearing masks or face coverings when appropriate,” Hogan said. “We will keep taking whatever actions are necessary, and we urge Marylanders to remain vigilant, so that together we can continue leading the nation with our health and economic recovery.”
Governor Larry Hogan’s office provided additional details below:
Hospital-Based Testing Sites. Governor Hogan announced a total of six additional locations for hospital-based testing sites, which are on track to be fully operational and open daily, with no appointment necessary, by the end of next week. They include:
- UM Shore Regional Health (Talbot County)
- TidalHealth (Wicomico County)
- Garrett Regional Medical Center (Garrett County)
- Holy Cross Germantown Hospital (Montgomery County)
- Howard County General Hospital (Howard County)
- UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center (Anne Arundel County)
Last week, the governor announced the first 10 locations for hospital-based testing sites. Additional sites will open tomorrow.
Distribution of 20 Million N95 and KN95 Masks. To make it even easier for Marylanders to have an extra layer of protection, Governor Hogan announced that MDH will begin distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks—which provide additional infection protection compared to cloth and general use face masks—next week. The masks will be distributed through multiple channels including:
- Local health departments
- All state-run testing and vaccination sites
- The Vaccine Equity Task Force, through partnerships with community organizations such as the NAACP
- Nursing homes
- Maryland state agencies
According to data from Carnegie Mellon University, Maryland ranks fifth in the nation for mask wearing.
Twice-Weekly Testing of Staff, Volunteers, and Vendors at Nursing Homes Regardless of Vaccination Status. MDH has issued an order that requires all staff, volunteers, and vendors who are in a nursing home facility regularly, regardless of vaccination status, to be tested for COVID-19 twice a week whenever community transmission is high. In addition, all visitors will need to provide proof of a negative test, or be tested at the facility with a rapid test prior to entering.
As of today, 70% of Maryland nursing homes are reporting positive COVID-19 cases among residents and staff.
The order will go into effect on Jan. 21, and the state will work closely with nursing homes to make all of the necessary testing resources available to them.
Maryland National Guard to Distribute Remdesivir to Nursing Homes. In the coming days, the Maryland National Guard will begin distributing courses of Remdesivir, which is one of the therapeutic treatments believed to be effective against the Omicron variant, to institutional pharmacies that directly serve nursing homes.