BALTIMORE — In a bid to create the capacity for 6,000 more hospital beds in Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan turned to the Baltimore Convention Center to add a few hundred of them, and today, the field hospital is ready to play its role during a surge in coronavirus cases.
“This facility will be a place where coronavirus patients who no longer require hospitalization can complete their care and fully recover,” said Hogan. “By providing another 250 beds here, this field hospital expands the capacity of Baltimore City healthcare facilities, reduces the time that patients have to remain in our hospitals and, in turn, will free up that critical capacity.”
To help reduce the load on the hospitals, the governor also has created special teams of doctors and nurses to deploy to nursing homes and long-term residential facilities as needed.
“Today, we are launching statewide strike teams composed of members of the National Guard, representatives of local and state health departments, the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Systems & hospital systems to bring triage emergency care, supplies and equipment to overburdened nursing homes,” said Hogan.
For all of the state’s efforts, health experts say the expansive social distancing is having the biggest impact on keeping the state’s COVID-19 cases from overloading its healthcare system.
“One model that the White House uses has our peak occurring about 10 days from now and other models have the peak coming a bit later,” said Tom Inglesby of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg Center for Health Security. “but models are only best estimates and models don’t necessarily take into account how seriously Maryland has put social distancing measures in place so we do hope our peak day will be sooner.”
Soon enough, it’s hoped, to never have to use these makeshift facilities.
Maryland has now received 200 ventilators from from FEMA according to Hogan. The news comes after U.S. Vice President Mike Pence designated Maryland, D.C., and Virginia a hot spot for the virus.
In Maryland, Baltimore City and County and 10 others in particular have received the designation including: Carroll, Prince George's, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Howard, Frederick, Harford, Queen Anne's, Calvert, and Charles Counties.
Hogan said the state has approved 27 new licenses for assisted livings, 42 residential sites for those with developmental disabilities, and 14 clinical labs to help with research and testing.
With 459 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Baltimore City, including nine deaths, Hogan has authorized the Maryland State and Maryland Transportation Authority Police Departments to deploy officers to the city to help areas of need. Currently there are 10 confirmed cases of the virus within the Baltimore Police Department, with 211 members in quarantine.
Hogan also said the state is looking into quickly turning Pimlico race track into a screening site.
In response to calls from several Maryland lawmakers, Hogan said he is ordering state officials to begin breaking down test results that will show racial and ethnic backgrounds of those testing positive.
Hogan said one concern is that 90% of tests are currently being done by doctors who are sending them out of state labs, many of which don't document such information
As of Tuesday, Hogan said 90 nursing homes throughout the state have been affected by at least one positive case of the coronavirus.
To help combat the growing issue, Hogan announced the formation of a statewide strike team, that will be made up of the Maryland National Guard, local and state health departments, and MEMA, all of which will provide triage and emergency care and supplies to overburden nursing homes.
The strike team will consist of three teams: testing teams, assistance teams, and clinical teams. The testing team will be tasked with testing nursing home residents and getting the results back as quickly as possible, while the assistance teams will provide supplies and triage as needed, and the clinical team provides on site medical treatment.
Finally the Governor said some bushiness haven't been complying with his executive orders of social distancing and closing of non-essential business. To help address the issue, Hogan says he has given any local health department the authority to modify, limit, or completely shut down the operations of any business in their jurisdiction failing to comply. Penalties could result in a year in jai and/or a $5000 fine.
Hogan seemed optimistic that Maryland may be able to avoid a worst case scenario, but it's going be a while before any orders are lifted.
Currently there are 4,371confirmed cases in the state including 103 deaths. To follow our complete coverage of the coronavirus pandemic, click here.