Hogan Says Vaccine Shortage Will Continue; Announces COVID-19 Testing And PPE For Schools
Gov. Larry Hogan defended the state’s distribution process for the COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, arguing that Maryland is not getting enough doses from the federal government.
“We need more damn vaccines,” he said at a news conference. “If I needed to drain the entire rainy day fund to buy enough vaccines for every eligible Marylander, I would do so today. Unfortunately, we have no control whatsoever over this supply problem.”
Hogan said the state is receiving approximately 11,000 doses per day for 2 million eligible residents. He and other governors are meeting President Joe Biden Friday at the Oval Office.
“We've been told by the federal government that this problem will continue to exist for the foreseeable future,” Hogan said.
In response to teachers’ complaints that they won’t be vaccinated in time to return to classrooms in March, Hogan announced that schools will be getting 1 million free COVID-19 tests and unlimited PPE.
“The CDC does not require that teachers need to be vaccinated in order to return,” he said. “However, here in Maryland, that process of vaccinating teachers is already underway.”
Hogan said 22 out of 24 county school boards already have resumed in-person learning or have agreed to do so by March 1. Last month he urged school systems to make plans to bring students back into the buildings in March, threatening to explore consequences for districts that refused.
Hogan’s complaint about vaccine supply comes amid ongoing concerns about the state’s vaccine distribution process. Critics say they’ve struggled to make appointments on multiple websites, and that those most vulnerable have not gotten access.
Local leaders have been calling for more clarity on weekly allocations for their county health departments. Hogan said he’s directed the Maryland Department of Health to provide county officials with four week allocation projections so that they can plan ahead and can open up more appointments for their clinics.
“Up until now, state health officials have had to wait until Thursday, Friday, sometimes even Saturday night of each week to know what we could allocate to anyone or the following week,” he said.
Touting lower COVID-19 positivity rates, Hogan said that nursing homes will resume indoor visitations. The state health department reported a seven-day positivity rate of 4.87% Friday. It’s the first time the positivity rate has been below 5% since early November.
In addition, Hogan announced that a mass vaccination site at M&T Bank Stadium will open Feb. 25. Appointments for that site will open up next week.