Hogan urges Marylanders to get boosters as COVID-19 omicron variant confirmed in US

Maryland surpasses 1M mark of booster shots administered

Updated: 4:01 PM EST Dec 1, 2021


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Good afternoon joining me once again today, our health Secretary Dennis Schrader and Deputy Secretary Dr Jon lien chan. Last week, the World Health Organization Designated the B 115-9 variant or omicron variant which is the latest strain of covid 19 as a variant of concern. And the W. H. O. Issued a warning monday that um Akron poses a high risk of infection surges across the globe. We immediately held an emergency meeting of our COVID-19 response team and we have been constantly monitoring all available information. There are still a lot of unanswered questions but here’s what we know right now. The um micron variant has spread rapidly across South Africa in recent weeks, leading to an alarming rise in new cases of the virus. It has now already been identified In more than two dozen countries. And just moments ago the CDC confirmed the first U. S. Case in California. Uh in an individual who returned from South Africa. Health officials are warning that a micron could be more transmissible than previous strains of COVID-19 and that it may pose a greater risk of reinfection. Just yesterday, the World Health Organization advised people over the age of 60 with underlying health conditions to refrain from any international travel. According to public health experts. It could still be several weeks before they have enough critical data to determine if the omicron variant causes more severe illness than earlier strains or whether the current COVID-19 vaccines and treatments are effective against it here in the state of Maryland as we have throughout this pandemic, we continue to hope for the best While actively preparing for the worst and when it comes to the omicron variant, I want to reassure marylanders that our entire team is continuing to very closely monitor the situation. We’re taking nothing for granted. We’re taking every precaution and preparing to mobilize all available resources because our highest priority is to continue keeping marylanders safe. The Maryland public health laboratory has been testing for coronavirus variants at a much higher rate than the nation and most other states by using genomic sequencing to track the various mutations of the virus including the UK Brazilian delta and many other variants earlier this year. In order to expand this screening capability, the state entered into agreements with both johns Hopkins and the University of Maryland to more than double our already aggressive real time variant surveillance Maryland has one of the strongest variant surveillance systems in America and we’re now sequencing at nearly three times the level recommended by public health experts. If a macron does come to Maryland we will find it and track it down. We have already begun taking additional steps to further increase surveillance earlier today, the Maryland Board of Public Works approved an emergency procurement To acquire additional special re agents and supplies to further expand our capacity to track and detect variants of COVID-19. The board of Public Works also extended our sequencing agreements with both the University of Maryland and johns Hopkins and we are also encouraging all of our lab partners to immediately ramp up their surveillance efforts. The way we can detect the variance is through more people Getting tested. Getting tested remains one of the most important things that you can do to protect yourself your family and your fellow marylanders if you’re feeling sick and think you’re coming down with something, get a test, if you are about to travel somewhere or returning back home, get a test, it’s simple and it’s effective. A pcr testing remains widely available at hundreds of locations all across the state And we recently surpassed 15 million tests conducted here in Maryland. You can find the locations nearest you by visiting covid test dot Maryland dot gov. In addition, we’ve taken steps to make more antigen rapid testing available. With rapid tests, The results are available in as little as 15 minutes. But with national supply chain issues and increased demand, they were becoming increasingly difficult to find. So last week I announced that we’re distributing another half a million Abbott buinaksk now rapid tests across the state. These steps are available at multiple locations such as local health departments, libraries and community centers. As a further step to address the potential impact of the um akron variant, the Maryland department of health and the Maryland Department of Transportation will immediately make rapid tests available at the international terminal at B. W. I. Airport For the nearly 7000 international passengers who arrive each week and we are making guidance available to travelers in multiple languages. We also want to remind marylanders of the new urgent care center, which is now open at B. W. I, which offers both Covid testing vaccines and boosters to any travelers. Um while there are still a great deal of unknowns about the omicron variant, our state will not wait to launch our preparedness efforts and marylanders shouldn’t wait either. We’re beginning to see the anticipated seasonal uptick in some of our key health metrics Includer including our positivity rate, which has now increased to more than 5%. Our primary mission remains protecting the vulnerable and preventing hospitalizations and deaths and the most important thing that you can do right now to maintain immunity to protect yourself and your family from severe illness is to get vaccinated. Thanks to the millions of marylanders who have rolled up their sleeves, Maryland continues to be one of the most vaccinated states in America. We’ve now administered nearly 9.4 million covid 19 vaccines, 99.9 of Marylander, 65 and older have been vaccinated, 88.9% of all adults. You know, all Marylanders, 18 and over have been vaccinated And we’ve already vaccinated. Nearly 118,000 5 to 11 year olds which puts us in every one of those categories among the very best in the nation. These vaccines are safe. They’re effective and our team is working around the clock to get that last less than 1/10 of 1% of our remaining seniors And the remaining 11.1% of remaining adults in Maryland vaccinated and to continue getting even more of our school age Children vaccinated. If you’re already vaccinated, the single most important thing that you can do to maintain your immunity against the virus and it’s variants is to get your booster shot. As of today, the state of Maryland has now administered more than one million booster shots and we continue to have both the supply and the capacity To provide boosters to anyone who needs or wants one. After weeks of the federal government only allowing certain categories of people to get their booster shot. We cut through all of that confusion and made all Marylanders age 18 and older eligible for a booster. State health officials are strongly encouraging all eligible marylanders to get a booster shot as soon as possible. The vaccines have been proven to be extremely effective, but the data does show waning immunity after six months or so. So even if you have received two shots, you are not fully vaccinated, immune or protected if it has been six months or more from your second dose. If you’re 18 or older and completed your initial series of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines on or before june 1st, please get a booster shot as soon as possible. If you’re 18 or older and received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine on or before October one Please get a booster shot as soon as possible. Get a booster shot in the next 10 days to be fully protected by christmas. While many are understandably concerned about the ah macron variant, I urge marylanders not to panic. This is not the first variant we have seen and it almost certainly is not going to be the last. But throughout this entire year we have repeatedly stressed that we’re in a race between the vaccines and the variants because we’re one of the most highly vaccinated states. We have been able to stay ahead of the virus but we cannot become complacent and we do need to remain vigilant. I’m urging all marylanders to be smart to be safe and to use common sense in Maryland. We’ve been able to lead throughout the entire crisis by listening to the experts and by following the science and that’s exactly what we will continue to do. While I do not believe in blanket mandates, I do believe in personal responsibility and getting vaccinated or getting your booster shot is absolutely the best way to protect yourself your family and your fellow marylanders this holiday season and it’s the best way to keep us Marilyn strong and with that I’d be happy to take a few questions. What you say. Belfort a lot of the teacher areas guys later on that time. I think maybe I’ll let dr chance if she has an answer to that one. That’s uh we had all of our experts were saying. They just didn’t have enough data and more is coming in nearly every day. But um it’s still gonna take enough time for us to the experts to figure it out what you want. Think it thank you governor. Um so it still will take a couple more weeks because you know really with this particular variant that was identified the omicron variant, it was identified and named a variant of concern very rapidly and so um there’s still a lot unknown. So what they’re they’re doing now and this is across the globe is actually doing some of the laboratory studies to look at virus neutralization with antibodies. And so some of those tests are happening now and that will give us a better understanding of what impact this variant might be able to have other information in terms of severity of disease. You know, we are looking very closely at what’s happening in South Africa for example because that has the most number of identified cases with the omicron variant. So we’ll learn more um certainly in the next couple of weeks but some information may still be even after that. Are you confident of the tests we have here in Maryland can detect very well. Are you get tested yes. You know what we know so far about the variant and our lab director has been in close contact with the FDA as well as the Association of Public Health Laboratories, you know, they know you know FDA in particular knows exactly what each test that they have approved can detect. And right now there’s no reason to doubt that any of the essays that are being used is not able to detect the variant. Um and so if someone has the variant and is sick with it, they should be tested and you know will be positive. Catch it. Yes sir, admission. Okay, patient paul open which one home and speakers And also if there I wish it right. Yeah. This number. Uh huh. So you know, I think that since early this year as we have rolled out the vaccination campaign as we have seen the alpha variant, we’ve heard about the beta variant, the delta variant. Um you know, the changes in the virus itself is expected and really the mutations have been happening since March 2020 and so the omicron variant is not something unexpected. Um and we here in Maryland are prepared to deal with it as the governor indicated. And you know, we’re taking additional measures um to protect our residents here in the state. And so we are concerned about this as our public health officials around the country and around the world, which is why we’re taking these actions but there are things that people can do and I can’t emphasize this enough, that vaccination remains our most important tool to protect ourselves and our families against Covid 19 and if you are eligible. So six months after your primary series, um if it’s Pfizer Moderna or two months after um your johnson johnson getting a booster will help to maintain immunity and protect people against whether it’s omicron or other variants. We believe that’s still the most important tool, Sergeant. Very is there a black in those results? For example, Maryland did have a path positive all the crime case. Would it have been put into the and saying it’s and have you changed anything adjusted the seat than anyone simply to look for this battle? So there can be a delay at times because you know what has you know, to do the sequencing requires first and foremost a positive pcr and so that sample then is collected and depending on which lab did the test in the first place, we work very closely with them to try as much as possible to transfer those samples to either our state lab or to one of our contracted labs for that detailed sequencing work. Um and so that can take a little bit of time. So you know, that’s where some of the work that we’re doing to ramp up our capacity, you know, our hospital partners, the university of Maryland and johns Hopkins, you know, they’re sequencing capacity, they are sequencing every single positive that they get through their normal channels, for example, um in terms of some of the changes that we’ve made with this particular variant, the omicron variant, there is something that people may have heard of called the S Gene Dropout and it’s really a very specific characteristic of a particular pcr test that’s very commonly used. And so this pattern is something that we can see if the lab uses that particular test. Our state public health lab for example uses it. And so they have shifted to using more of it to be able to detect that particular pattern earlier and prioritize those cases for contact tracing as well as sequencing. No, no. Okay. Seven Start Planning Offerings 1st. Great find right now. Hello, scared. Okay. Yeah, I think the state state border has a hearing going on right now and I haven’t quite frankly been following it. Um I don’t know, you know, the current orders are in place until february. So um I don’t know that any actions will be taken. Obviously some of the things that were going to be discovering over the next few weeks may be important, but I don’t think we need to change the policy at this point, but that really is an independent board that makes their own decisions. And I haven’t heard what they’re doing today or spoken with any of them government curious as far as communication throughout jurisdiction, has the White House communicated to the Governor’s any policies regarding macron right now and in turn Maryland for Well it’s a great question. Uh I mean we know we were hosting right now, a National Governors Association conference here in Annapolis yesterday and today on infrastructure and I’m talking with my fellow governors, we were thinking there might be a White House call yesterday or today, but we have not had direct communication. I know that our our Secretary of Health and uh dr chan and all of our team are reaching out to their counterparts and federal agencies. We haven’t had any direct communication from the White House which is a little bit concerning. I understand the President’s gonna make some uh comments tomorrow, but hasn’t given us any heads up and I know we’re working very closely with all of our county health officers. Uh at this point we’re, you know, we don’t have enough information to pass on, we’re sharing everything we know with you and with our local leaders and maybe that’s the White House doesn’t know enough to update us either. However, there isn’t be dispensed. Look, right, this is a hypothetical part of this brian should marylanders prepare themselves. There is a possibility of some of the measures play. I sure hope not. I mean, we are not intending to return to any of those measures here in the state of Maryland. I can’t imagine that that would be something that the vast majority of the public after 21 months is somewhat fatigued by some of the measures that had to be taken at the early part of this. Uh but again, we don’t know what’s, what we’re gonna find out over the next couple of weeks right now, it’s, we’re trying to do everything we can to address a potential situation. We could find out in the next two weeks that this does not cause more severe illness or hospitalizations or deaths and that since we’re so well vaccinated and the vaccine still work, that’s not a problem at all. So I don’t think we need to kind of rush. You know, we’re having this announcement today just because there’s a lot of questions and concerns I wanted to share with everyone what we know. But again, we don’t know a lot on that responsibility. Is this very concerned about a or either of you that you are rethinking maybe your holidays, Apple plans or the way you engage with family’s I think family’s at home or what are trying to wonder do I need to rethink my plans for the rest? Well, you know, and we’ve been stressing the same kinds of things from the very beginning that we’re still stressing and that is what I talked about earlier. You know, you really need to get vaccinated. You need to get boosted. You should get tested. Um, you know what we don’t want to tell everybody not to get together and celebrate the holidays, people are still needing to travel. But just be safe. We’re saying get a test before you go get a test when you come back. If you’re feeling sick, don’t be around your loved ones. You know, don’t go to crowded events, uh, and just follow the advice. But right now I wouldn’t tell anybody to panic or to change their plans, but continue to go back to the earlier measures that we suggest that they do and we’ve been advising them to do to keep safe. I think we’re yeah, right here. Right. Well it’s acquiring, yeah. Are you recommending it really is? Uh, you know, again, I talked about personal responsibility and I think people should do what they feel comfortable with. And at this point, I don’t think we need to have any kind of mandates regarding that. But certainly if people are in a crowd and they don’t know all the people or whether they’re tested or vaccinated and with potential cases of Delta and perhaps other variants out there. I mean, you know, people ought to take common sense measures to do the right thing and whatever they feel is best for them and their families. Remember talk to any other providing officers of the next week. I had a very productive meeting with the Senate president this morning, uh, in my office. And uh, and we talked about a number of issues, uh, we talked about the upcoming special session. Um, my desire for them to take up our emergency crime bills. We talked about our joint concern over the lack of data coming from the state’s Attorney’s office are concerned about the out of control of violent crime in Baltimore city. We talked about redistricting. Um we have a somewhat of a difference of opinion on that. We’re gonna be hopefully talking further, but the session will be next week and uh you know, the important things uh that are going to get, I’m sure they’re gonna be working on trying to override some common sense vetoes that most people in Maryland agree with me on and I try to explain to him they would be making a mistake is to go against the overwhelming will of the voters. Uh but I think, you know, I’m not sure if I convince them on all of them uh and on redistricting, I think their intent is to continue to do some of the worst gerrymandering in the country. And we’re trying to convince them that that does not make sense and that they should follow the the Citizens redistricting Commission. But you know, it’s good it’s good that we’re having dialogue and was very open and honest uh free flowing discussion. I’m not sure we arrived at any grand bargains or compromise, but it’s great that we have the lines of communication open. Yes, I mean, he didn’t give me any indication that they were gonna overwhelmingly passed the Citizens Bill, which is uh but he did uh commit to bringing it up for a vote, which is, you know, the past. A lot of our stuff has been stuck in a drawer and just never acted on, but they will introduce it and they will do. I think a hearing on both bills, The good one that the citizens drew and the bad one that the politicians drew in the back room. Thank you. I think we um you know, I stressed the importance of trying to get this done soon. We’ve you know, actually passed these bills, some of these bills twice through the Senate. Uh So as he pointed out today, the problem was really more with the House rather than the Senate. Uh He he expressed some reservations about the ability to get it done in special session, but understood why I thought it was important not to delay. Uh and I assured him if it doesn’t get passed in a special session, we’re coming back again in january and it’s still going to be a top priority and I mean he’s just as concerned about crime in Baltimore City as I am. Um And you know, he two years ago requested the data that we still haven’t gotten from the State’s Attorney’s Office. So we’re in complete agreement on that boosters of has there? Mhm. Having been boosted parts of what fully vaccinated in Maryland or do you wait for the seat, I know that I mentioned that in my remarks were trying to say that maybe I’ll let you know, the secretary jump in here and say if you want our efforts, it’s a major part of our efforts is convincing people. You know, we’ve gotten most people vaccinated. I mentioned, you know, 1/10 of 1% of our seniors left, 11% of the rest of the people. That’s fantastic. But we don’t have we’ve only done a million whose million? This is a lot were one of the most boosted in the country, but it’s not enough. And people have this kind of false sense of security. Like I got my I got my two shots, you know, back last spring. Well, yeah, it’s only about 50% effective now. So if you really want to be safe while you’re traveling uh and being with family, get the booster, it’s it’s very easy, you can get it anywhere. And then it’s maybe maybe Dennis, we’ll talk about it. I think it’s like it makes you five times more immune when you get the booster. Then once you’re, you know, you have this declining immunity from a long time ago, will there be an official language? The guidance from the CDC? Well, our guidance is very clear, every single person 18 and over should get boosted and if it’s J&J more than two months, you should get it immediately. If it’s fighter uh or moderna and it’s been six months, you should do it immediately that there’s no confusion. Mhm. Anybody. All right, thank you. Last one tom jumping. We haven’t had a chance to talk. So sports about what Sports gift pushing for this. Finally move those five casinos. Your thoughts on that and how quickly do you? Realistic well I mean I think they should be they should have already been up and running so but I’m glad they finally made some progress and broke the logjam. I mean we put in and we exerted a tremendous amount of influence and pressure to get it done. It was crazy. The legislation said that they must do this and then they dragged their feet for a couple of months. So you know the goal was to get it done before playoff season where they make a heck of a lot of money for the state of Maryland. But I’m not sure I don’t know the latest of exactly the timing of when the commission’s gonna get their work done. But we want to see it. You know I think you should be able to take a bet today Tom thank you.

Hogan urges Marylanders to get boosters as COVID-19 omicron variant confirmed in US

Maryland surpasses 1M mark of booster shots administered

Updated: 4:01 PM EST Dec 1, 2021

Gov. Larry Hogan is urging Marylanders to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get the booster shot as concern grows over the omicron variant.|| COVID-19 updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||The governor’s update comes as the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the United States was identified Wednesday in California.| RELATED: First case of omicron COVID-19 variant detected in the USWhile there are no confirmed cases of omicron in Maryland as of Wednesday, there are concerns about it among public health officials and residents.| EXPLAINER: Here’s what we know about COVID-19 variants”I urge Marylanders not to panic,” Hogan said.The governor said Maryland has one of the strongest variant surveillance systems in the country to track various mutations of the virus. He said the state is sequencing at nearly three times the level recommended by public health experts.”If omicron does come to Maryland, we will find it,” Hogan said. “We continue to hope for the best, while also actively preparing for the worst … We are taking every precaution, and preparing to mobilize all available resources because our highest priority is to continue keeping Marylanders safe.”The governor said increased testing is important in order to track variants. As such, rapid tests are now available at the international terminal of Baltimore-Washington International Airport for the nearly 7,000 passengers who arrive each week.| LINK: Where to get tested for COVID-19The airport also has a new urgent care clinic at that offers both COVID-19 testing, vaccines and boosters to travelers.The governor on Monday held an emergency meeting of the COVID-19 Response Team and received a briefing on the omicron variant.Hogan and leaders in Anne Arundel County are among public officials who have stressed the importance of vaccinations, including booster shots.”The most important thing that you can do right now to maintain immunity, to protect yourself and your family from severe illness is to get vaccinated,” Hogan said. “If you are already vaccinated, the single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot.”| LINK: Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine”There are things that people can do, and I can’t emphasize this enough that vaccination remains our most important tool to protect ourselves and our families against COVID-19,” said Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland’s deputy secretary of public health services.According to Wednesday’s numbers from state health officials, 88.9% of Maryland adults have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, and more than 1 million COVID-19 booster shots have been administered.To date, Maryland has administered more than 9.3 million COVID-19 vaccines, including the more than 1 million booster shots. According to CDC data, 99.9% of Maryland’s seniors and 88.9% of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state has administered 117,644 vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds — representing 22.7% of the age group. The governor said the state will not be issuing a blanket mandate for residents.”While I do not believe in blanket mandates, I do believe in personal responsibility. Getting vaccinated or getting your booster shot is absolutely the best way to protect yourself, your family and your fellow Marylanders this holiday season,” Hogan said.The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved an emergency procurement to acquire additional special reagents and supplies to further expand the state’s capacity to track and detect variants of COVID-19.The BPW also extended the state’s sequencing agreements with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

Gov. Larry Hogan is urging Marylanders to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or get the booster shot as concern grows over the omicron variant.

|| COVID-19 updates | Maryland’s latest numbers | Get tested | Vaccine Info ||

The governor’s update comes as the first confirmed case of the omicron variant in the United States was identified Wednesday in California.

| RELATED: First case of omicron COVID-19 variant detected in the US

While there are no confirmed cases of omicron in Maryland as of Wednesday, there are concerns about it among public health officials and residents.

| EXPLAINER: Here’s what we know about COVID-19 variants

“I urge Marylanders not to panic,” Hogan said.

The governor said Maryland has one of the strongest variant surveillance systems in the country to track various mutations of the virus. He said the state is sequencing at nearly three times the level recommended by public health experts.

“If omicron does come to Maryland, we will find it,” Hogan said. “We continue to hope for the best, while also actively preparing for the worst … We are taking every precaution, and preparing to mobilize all available resources because our highest priority is to continue keeping Marylanders safe.”

The governor said increased testing is important in order to track variants. As such, rapid tests are now available at the international terminal of Baltimore-Washington International Airport for the nearly 7,000 passengers who arrive each week.

| LINK: Where to get tested for COVID-19

The airport also has a new urgent care clinic at that offers both COVID-19 testing, vaccines and boosters to travelers.

The governor on Monday held an emergency meeting of the COVID-19 Response Team and received a briefing on the omicron variant.

Hogan and leaders in Anne Arundel County are among public officials who have stressed the importance of vaccinations, including booster shots.

“The most important thing that you can do right now to maintain immunity, to protect yourself and your family from severe illness is to get vaccinated,” Hogan said. “If you are already vaccinated, the single most important thing you can do to maintain your immunity against this virus and its variants is to get your booster shot.”

| LINK: Where to get the COVID-19 vaccine

“There are things that people can do, and I can’t emphasize this enough that vaccination remains our most important tool to protect ourselves and our families against COVID-19,” said Dr. Jinlene Chan, Maryland’s deputy secretary of public health services.

According to Wednesday’s numbers from state health officials, 88.9% of Maryland adults have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine so far, and more than 1 million COVID-19 booster shots have been administered.

To date, Maryland has administered more than 9.3 million COVID-19 vaccines, including the more than 1 million booster shots. According to CDC data, 99.9% of Maryland’s seniors and 88.9% of adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The state has administered 117,644 vaccinations to 5- to 11-year-olds — representing 22.7% of the age group.

The governor said the state will not be issuing a blanket mandate for residents.

“While I do not believe in blanket mandates, I do believe in personal responsibility. Getting vaccinated or getting your booster shot is absolutely the best way to protect yourself, your family and your fellow Marylanders this holiday season,” Hogan said.

The Maryland Board of Public Works on Wednesday approved an emergency procurement to acquire additional special reagents and supplies to further expand the state’s capacity to track and detect variants of COVID-19.

The BPW also extended the state’s sequencing agreements with the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.



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