ANNAPOLIS, Md. (FOX 5 DC) - The state of Maryland lost its youngest victim to the novel coronavirus on Monday – a one-year-old boy, Governor Larry Hogan announced during a Tuesday evening press conference while appearing to get emotional.
While discussing the recent surge in cases throughout the state, Hogan said that Maryland currently has 201,135 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 2,765 new cases in the past 24 hours. The 7-day statewide positivity rate is 7.33 percent, and the case rate is now 34.4.
Hogan also mentioned that hospitalizations in the state have increased by 51 percent in the past two weeks. As of today, there are 1,583 COVID patients hospitalized throughout the state, which is the highest since May 10.
"The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our healthcare system and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our healthcare workers who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress," said Hogan.
To help hospitals and staff, Hogan announced the launch of MarylandMedNow, which will staff up hospitals, nursing homes, test sites, and vaccination clinics.
Hospitals are required to submit a "Patient Surge Plan" with strategies to expand hospital beds and make staffing surge adjustments. This must be submitted to the Maryland Health Department by Dec. 8.
Maryland is also requesting all colleges and universities to develop emergency policies immediately to award academic credit to students willing to serve in the healthcare field during the pandemic.
Hogan says colleges and universities are also encouraged to allow healthcare students in their final semesters with graduation requirements already satisfied to "exit early" in an effort to enter the workforce more quickly.
During the press conference, Hogan also announced that after more than 40 years of public service, Maryland Health Department Secretary Bobby Neall is retiring, effective immediately. The governor has named current COO Dennis Schrader as Acting Secretary of Health.
Hogan also announced Dr. Jinlene Chan will lead COVID-19 vaccine acquisition and distribution efforts, while David Marcozzi will serve as Senior Medical Advisor to the Governor on COVID-19.
"I’m really proud of this incredibly capable and talented team, and all the people who work under them. They will be playing a key role in guiding us through this critical and hopefully final phase of the pandemic," said Hogan.