This week, we declared a 30-day state of emergency in order to take urgent, short-term actions to combat the current COVID-19 surge. We enacted two executive orders to assist hospitals, nursing homes, and our EMS workforce address staffing shortages, and we mobilized 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard to support existing COVID-19 testing sites and stand up 20 hospital-based testing sites across the state.
To meet the rising demand for testing and divert people from visiting hospital emergency rooms to get COVID-19 tests, 10 more hospital-based testing sites will be fully operational by the end of next week. All of these locations will be open seven days a week, with no appointment necessary.
In response to the national shortage of rapid testing, we are in the process of distributing 1 million at-home rapid tests through local health departments and state-run testing sites. We are also pursuing numerous emergency procurements and are on track to receive an additional 500,000 rapid tests in the next week.
All of the emergency actions we are taking are to keep our hospitals from overflowing, to keep our kids in school, and to keep Maryland open for business, and we will continue to take whatever actions are necessary.
The truth is that the weeks ahead will be the most challenging of the entire pandemic. The single most important thing you can do to protect yourself, your family, and your fellow Marylanders is to get vaccinated or get your booster shot. To find a vaccine provider and schedule an appointment, visit covidvax.maryland.gov or call 1-855-MD-GOVAX.
It’s also important for all of us to use common sense and keep doing the things that will keep us safe: avoiding crowds, keeping your distance, washing your hands, and wearing masks or face coverings.
May God bless each and every one of you as we continue to fight this battle together.