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COVID-19 in Maryland Health Care

Hospital Association: With another uptick in COVID cases, hospitals are nearing capacity

A nurse treats a patient with coronavirus in the intensive care unit at a hospital in Leonardtown on May 1, 2020. Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images.

Maryland hospitals are almost at capacity with longer wait times to help patients, due in part to “another steep uptick in Marylanders needing hospitalization for COVID,” according to the Maryland Hospital Association.

The Maryland Department of Health reported 896 people hospitalized with COVID on Friday; that compares to 789 hospitalizations one week ago and hospitalizations in the 500-person range early last month.

The hospital association said most hospitals are more than 90% full and many are at 100% capacity.

The organization is asking people to reach out to their local care providers for less severe issues to help alleviate pressure on hospital emergency departments.

“Help preserve hospitals’ limited resources by seeking hospital care only when truly needed,” Bob Atlas, president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association, said in a statement.

He urged people to “seek care for less severe illnesses in primary care, urgent care, or via telehealth. You can also help by getting a flu shot, getting boosted against COVID-19, and social distancing when sick.”

The association is circulating six tips for Marylanders to remain healthy and protect others:

  1. Around bigger groups, keep social distance and wear face masks that cover both nose and mouth.
  2. Get a COVID test if you have symptoms or a relative or other loved one tests positive.
  3. Remain home if you are sick.
  4. Visit primary care providers early to prevent colds or minor injuries from getting worse.
  5. Get vaccinated or boosted for COVID.
  6. Get a flu shot.

In addition to responding to surges in care needs for COVID and other respiratory illnesses, hospitals are also facing workforce shortages nearly three years after the global pandemic reached Maryland. In an August report, the Hospital Association said it was facing “the most critical staffing shortage in recent memory,” with one of every four nursing positions in the state vacant.