ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Minutes after the country's first Omicron Variant case was confirmed in California, Governor Larry Hogan updated the public on how Maryland is prepping for potential spread.
For one, the State Board of Public Works enacted an emergency order to acquire more supplies that can help track and detect different COVID-19 variants.
The State also extended agreements with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, to continue ramping up their surveillance of potential new cases.
There are additional efforts underway at BWI Airport to catch cases as soon as they come into the state.
Rapid tests have already been made available for the nearly 7,000 travelers that arrive each week at the international terminal. The airport has also opened a new on-site urgent care center that provides COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters to passengers.
Last week, Maryland released 500,000 free rapid antigen tests that citizens can take at home.
They are currently available at various local health departments, libraries, and community centers throughout the state.
Hogan stressed the importance of getting tested and vaccinated, with the upcoming winter season already causing a spike in new cases.
In the last 24 hours, Maryland reported 1,142 new cases of COVID-19, as well as 14 new deaths and 35 more hospitalizations.
“We are beginning to see the anticipated seasonal uptick in some of our key health metrics. The most important thing you can do right now to maintain immunity and protect yourself and your family from severe illness is to get vaccinated," said Hogan. “If you are already vaccinated, the single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot.”
Data continues to show the vaccines have waning immunity after 6 months.
So far, 99.9 percent of seniors and 88.9 percent of adults in the state have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Meanwhile, almost 23 percent of all kids ages 5 to 11 have received their first dose.
It could take weeks before we know if Omicron causes more severe illness than earlier strains, or how effective the vaccines are against it.
Thus far it has popped up in at least two-dozen countries.