ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Governor Larry Hogan on Monday said the state would be launching efforts to provide one million COVID-19 tests for schools, as students and teachers prepare for a return to in-person learning.
The supply will include both rapid antigen and PCR testing, based on the anticipated number of returning students and staff.
Last month, Hogan and State Education Superintendent Karen Salmon all but demanded schools reopen by March 1.
Most have since released phased-in hybrid model plans to return.
Aside from vaccinations, which remain in short supply, teachers unions have made readily available testing a top priority for their members.
Although severely limited, state health officials will now provide local jurisdictions with four-week projections of vaccine allocations, a longer window than the two-weeks given to the states by the feds.
This comes following a letter sent to Hogan last week by local leaders requesting better communication regarding vaccine allotments.
Hogan said he's been told by the federal government that the new Johnson and Johnson Vaccine could receive emergency use authorization by month's end.
Emergent BioSolutions in East Baltimore has been working to manufacture millions of those doses, for if and when it gets approved.
Unlike the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines which each have about 95 percent effectiveness against contracting COVID-19 , Johnson and Johnson's has only a 77 percent prevention rate.
But one major difference is that Johnson and Johnson's vaccine is only one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer's two doses.
Johnson and Johnson can also be refrigerated at normal temperature while the others cannot, according to Dr. David Marcozzi of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
While awaiting more vaccines, Hogan said he will continue to build upon the infrastructure that will have Maryland ready for when they do become available.
That includes turning M&T Bank Stadium into a mass vaccination clinic starting February 25, joining the already up and running Baltimore Convention Center and Six Flags America.
Appointments will start being accepted there next week.
With almost all metrics trending downward, Hogan on Thursday made the decision to allow limited visitation to resume at Maryland hospitals and nursing homes, as early as March 1.
Each hospital will be allowed to set their own policies within CDC guidelines, while nursing homes will be required to have no active cases and proper testing protocols in place.
As of Thursday, there have been 367,865 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 7,288 deaths in Maryland.
So far -- 9.712 percent of the state's population has received the first dose of the vaccine with 3.275 percent getting the second.
Find out how your county is distributing the vaccine here.