Hogan Announces COVID Test Program to See if 4th Dose Needed at Nursing Homes
By Zeke Hartner
Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. announced Wednesday that Maryland will partner with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Johns Hopkins University to implement an antibody testing program in nursing homes to determine if residents should receive a fourth dose of the coronavirus vaccine.
“This study will help determine whether we move forward with a potential fourth dose for some of our most vulnerable residents,” Hogan (R) said. “We hope that that won’t be necessary, but we will be prepared to take action if it is deemed necessary.”
The governor said the study is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.
He emphasized that the booster was not just a “bonus or extra dose.” He said that First Lady Yumi Hogan, who recently tested positive for COVID-19, was experiencing very mild symptoms and credited the booster shot for preventing more serious illness.
“Getting your booster shot as soon as you’re eligible is absolutely critical to protecting you from severe illness from this virus and its variants,” he said.
Cases, hospitalizations on the decline
Hogan touted the downward trend in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Maryland as evidence that the pandemic may soon reach a manageable level in the state. He said Maryland had a lower positivity rate than 42 states, and was down nearly 40% from its peak of nearly 30% two weeks ago.
Hogan also said the state’s hospitalization rates have fallen from their peak of 3,462 hospitalized on Jan. 11, and that the number of people hospitalized has fallen below 3,000 for the first time since Jan. 2.
“Our public health team is encouraged by the fact that this decline in hospitalizations is a result both a result of a decline of admissions and an increase in discharges,” Hogan said. “We’re getting folks healthier and out of the hospital faster.”
Hogan also said he expects the number of daily deaths from coronavirus, a “lagging indicator” during spikes in cases, to remain higher than normal for the next week or two; 70 new deaths were reported Thursday.
The governor announced Thursday that the 19th hospital-based testing site was operational as of Thursday at LifeBridge Health in Carroll County. The testing sites are designed to help hospitals avoid overcrowding as residents seek coronavirus testing.
“All of this progress is very encouraging, but we’re not out of the woods,” Hogan said. “Even though we have been able to attain considerable drops in the metrics, and they’re continuing to drop, they’re still much higher than they had been or where we need to be. But we will continue taking actions every single day to combat this surge.”
Danielle E. Gaines contributed to this report.
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