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Maryland governor announces steps to boost hospital beds

December 1, 2020 GMT
FILE - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. Faced with surging COVID-19 cases, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)
FILE - Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan speaks during a news conference on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020 in Annapolis, Md. Faced with surging COVID-19 cases, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020 to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds. (AP Photo/Brian Witte)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Faced with surging COVID-19 cases, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan announced measures on Tuesday to boost the number of available health care workers and plan for more hospital beds.

In a partnership with the Maryland Hospital Association, the governor announced the launch of an initiative called MarylandMedNow to recruit people with clinical backgrounds to work at state hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics.

The state has asked colleges and universities to develop emergency policies and procedures to award academic credit to students who are willing to get hands-on work experience during the pandemic.

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“The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our health care system and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our health care workers who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress,” Hogan said.

Colleges also are being encouraged to allow health care students who are in their final semester and have satisfied all graduation requirements to get an “early exit” and expedited testing and licensing requirements to get them into the workforce.

The governor also announced steps to increase hospital beds. Hospitals across the state will be required to submit a patient surge plan, including strategies to expand bed and staffing capacity adjustments. They will be due at the health department Dec. 8.

Also, if hospitalizations reach a total of 8,000 hospitalizations or more, hospitals will be required to expand their staffed bed capacity by 10% of each hospital’s physical bed capacity within seven calendar days.

“We currently have 6,816 Marylanders in our state hospitals,” Hogan said. “When we reach the 8,000 total hospitalization statewide, all hospitals will be required to expand their staff-bed capacity by at least 10% within seven days of that trigger.”

Of the 6,816 people in hospitals, 1,583 had confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday.

The Republican governor also announced that Dennis Schrader, the health department’s chief operating officer, will be acting health secretary to replace Robert Neall, whose retirement went into effect Tuesday. Hogan also announced that Dr. David Marcozzi, the COVID-19 incident commander for the University of Maryland Medical System, will serve as a senior medical adviser to the governor.

Maryland’s health department has reported more than 201,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 4,516 confirmed virus-related deaths since the pandemic began.

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Marcozzi said the rising number of cases in the state confirm Maryland has entered a period of high risk, in which more people are getting infected and becoming ill. He also said he is very concerned cases will continue to rise in the next few weeks and months, and he urged people to redouble their virus prevention efforts and wear masks.

“Marylanders, we need to get our second wind,” Marcozzi said. “We need to double our efforts right now to get more of us through this healthy. If we do that, we will not only maintain our health but also maintain our economy.”

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Follow AP coverage of the pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.