TALBOT COUNTY, Md. — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan issued a new health order Thursday aimed at protecting nursing home residents. With more than 70% of the state's nursing homes now reporting positive COVID cases among residents and staff, the Maryland Health Department is adding new protocols for all those who enter a nursing home facility.
Starting Jan. 21, all visitors must provide proof of a negative test, or be tested at the facility with a rapid test before they can be let in the building. Nursing home employees, volunteers and all vendors who enter facilities regularly, regardless of vaccination status, will also be tested twice a week whenever community transmission is high.
"While we want people to continue to be able to visit their loved ones, we will do everything in our power to ensure they can do so safely," Hogan said.
The governor ensured that nursing home facilities would be provided with all the necessary testing resources, for free.
The Maryland Health Department will also begin distributing Remdesivir to institutional pharmacies that directly serve nursing homes, in order to help treat omicron cases.
You can read the full order here.
Gov. Hogan also announced six new hospital-based testing sites, which are expected to be fully operational by the end of next week. These are in addition to the 10 the governor previously mentioned, eight of which are currently fully operational; the last two open tomorrow.
Here's the complete list of 16 hospital-based testing sites (new sites bolded):
- UM Shore Regional
- Garrett Regional Medical Center
- Holy Cross Germantown Hospital
- Howard County General Hospital
- UM Baltimore Washington Medical Center
- University of Maryland Laurel Medical Center in Laurel
- University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center in La Plata
- University of Maryland Capital Region Medical Center in Largo
- Doctors Community Hospital in Lanham
- Meritus Health in Hagerstown
- Frederick Health in Frederick
- Johns Hopkins in Baltimore
- University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore
- MedStar St. Mary's Hospital in Leonardtown and
- Northwest Hospital in Randallstown.
"As with the 10 sites we opened last week, all six of these new locations will also be open seven days a week," Hogan said. "They are going to help us keep our already strained emergency rooms and hospitals from getting overrun with people just trying to get a test."
Hogan added that the state has administered more than 17 million COVID-19 tests and averages 63,000 tests per day, which Hogan said is one of the highest testing rates in the country.
The state is also working to distribute 20 million N95/KN95 masks at nursing homes, state agencies, local health departments, state-run testing and vaccination sites and through partnerships organized by the Vaccine Equity Task Force.