Coronavirus tally in D.C. region hits two-month high; Hogan says earlier restrictions unlikely to return
The tally of coronavirus caseloads in the greater Washington region jumped Tuesday, sending the average number of new daily infections to its highest level since mid-August.
D.C., Maryland and Virginia reported daily numbers above their recent averages, with each jurisdiction seeing a rise this month. Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said Tuesday that he expects the pandemic to worsen this fall in his state but added that he has no plans to bring back the type of restrictions put in place earlier this year.
The seven-day average of new infections across the region stands at 1,874 cases, the highest since Aug. 13, when it stood at 1,916. The number of new cases reported Tuesday in D.C., Maryland and Virginia surpassed 2,000 for the fourth time this month, mirroring a rise seen across much of the country.
Hogan said Tuesday during a WBAL radio interview that the pandemic will probably get worse before it gets better, but that it’s unlikely that restrictions imposed during the height of the pandemic will return to Maryland.
[Coronavirus cases and metrics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia]
“I don’t anticipate going back to some of the measures we took before,” he said.
In March, hoping to stop the spread of the virus, Hogan issued a stay-at-home order that prohibited residents from leaving their houses unless they worked at an essential job or were buying groceries or medicine. Six weeks later he began lifting some of those restrictions.
His gradual reopening of the state did not sit well with many members of the state’s Republican Party, some of whom wanted it to occur more quickly. ReOpen Maryland held rallies across the state and in Annapolis demanding an end to coronavirus-related restrictions.
A poll conducted by Gonzales Research & Media Strategies, released Tuesday, shows more than a quarter of Republicans say the governor has done a fair or poor job handling the crisis, while 66 percent think he has handled it well. Meanwhile, 82 percent of Democrats give Hogan high marks for his handling of the virus.
Hogan said the state is “ready” for another wave.
“We do anticipate it getting worse in the fall, having a hospital surge, which is why we built 6,000 new hospital beds,” Hogan said of preparations taken earlier this year.
[Maryland coronavirus plan says 14 percent of residents eligible for early vaccine when available]
He said Marylanders should also brace themselves for the effect a second wave could have on the state’s economy as people become less comfortable with going to large gatherings, entertainment venues and eating inside restaurants.
The Gonzales poll found that 41 percent of Marylanders feel comfortable returning to their regular routine, while 57 percent say they do not feel comfortable resuming their pre-pandemic life.
“Maryland has been one of the few that has kind of avoided [a big uptick in metrics] so far, but we don’t have any magic wall that’s going to keep the virus out of our state,” he said.
The 897 new cases reported
ANNAPOLIS, MD — Maryland is preparing to roll out a coronavirus vaccine as soon one is authorized, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Tuesday. Though the hype for an immunization is swirling, the governor reminds Marylanders that vaccinating the entire state will take some time.
Hogan’s draft plan calls for a two-step rollout of a potential coronavirus shot. A person’s job and living situation would determine when they get an immunization, he says.
“In anticipation of a COVID-19 vaccine, Maryland stands ready to order, distribute, and administer it effectively and rapidly as soon as a vaccine becomes available,” Hogan said in a press release sharing the state’s proposal.
Hogan submitted a tentative strategy to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for approval last week. It is not yet finalized, and it is merely an overview of what the vaccination period could look like.
Health care and essential workers would get the immunization first, according to Hogan’s suggestion. Staff members and residents of nursing homes would also be eligible for the shot in the first phase.
“The State of Maryland’s plan for this historic undertaking will immediately make the vaccine available to Marylanders at highest risk of developing complications from COVID-19 as well as our critical frontline health care workers and essential workers in public safety and education,” Hogan added.
The Maryland Department of Health would track several key metrics to evaluate the state’s vaccination progress, according to the proposition. The state would create an immunization dashboard to keep an eye on:
Percent of Phase 1 population vaccinated
Percent and number of residents and staff at long-term care facilities vaccinated
Determination of an equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccine throughout the state for the Phase 1 population
Percent and number of Phase 1 population pre-registered
Once Maryland makes substantial progress in these areas and after the CDC approves, the state will offer the coronavirus shot to the general public. This could take a while though.
Vaccines must be stored at low temperatures, meaning high-tech equipment is necessary to chill the immunization during shipping. This specialization could slow the process down.
Furthermore, patients will need two doses of the shot, doubling the amount of product that needs to pass through a competitive shipping market. The doses will be separated by 21 to 28 days, adding time to the process.
The state hopes to sort out some of these logistics beforehand by pre-registering vaccine distributors and receivers. Maryland will handle ordering and scheduling in advance through a state database called ImmuNet.
“From provider recruitment and enrollment to vaccine storage and reminders about second doses, MDH has taken a very calculated approach to ensure the logistics, operations, and execution of this plan are thorough and efficient,” said Acting Deputy Secretary of Public Health Dr. Jinlene Chan.
Hogan’s plan could only start if a company finalizes an immunization, gets the proper authorization and mass produces millions of doses. Scientists are not there yet, but it is a competitive race to the finish line.