Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday said the rising number of new coronavirus cases in Maryland are not related to the state easing COVID-19 restrictions nearly three weeks ago.
Instead, Hogan blamed the increase on the growing prevalence of more highly transmissible COVID-19 variants moving down the East Coast from New York, New Jersey and New England.
“While we continue to do better than most states, we are obviously not immune to these variants and viruses don’t recognize state borders” he said.
Maryland has confirmed 677 cases of COVID-19 variants, Hogan said. Those cases have primarily been from the UK variant, but the state has also detected variants from New York, California, South Africa and Brazil.
“We are quite literally in a race between these variants and the vaccines,” he said.
Maryland has confirmed more than 21,000 COVID-19 cases since the state eased its coronavirus restrictions.
Hogan did not say how many of the 677 variant cases were recorded in the past three weeks of eased restrictions, but they would represent 3% of the more than 21,000 total cases in that period.
Hogan said people should continue to take precautions against the virus, including wearing a mask.
Unlike other states that have lifted or eased their mask mandates, Maryland’s mask mandate remains in effect, Hogan said.
“Over the past year, all of the data and all of the science have proven that the very simple step of wearing a mask continues to be the single best mitigation strategy we have to stop the spread of COVID-19,” he said.
The governor also advised Marylanders not to travel to states with high COVID-19 transmission rates. If they do choose to travel, they should get tested upon their return to Maryland.
Starting today, any Marylander age 16 or older is now able to pre-register for a COVID-19 vaccine, Hogan announced.
Although all Marylanders are able to pre-register, only Marylanders eligible under Phases 1A-C and 2A-B will be able to receive vaccinations until eligibility is opened to more groups.
The first federal mobile vaccination units in the nation arrived at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Reisterstown on Thursday, Hogan said. In the coming days, they will fan out across the state with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) strike teams to remote areas of Maryland and ZIP codes that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has ranked as highly vulnerable.
This week, Maryland saw an increased supply of vaccine doses from the federal government and the White House has pledged that the state will see a similar supply in the coming weeks, Hogan said.
There are more than 3,000 vaccine distribution points across Maryland, Hogan said.
Maryland currently has six mass vaccination sites at:
- Prince George’s County, Six Flags America Theme Park in Bowie
- Charles County, Regency Furniture Stadium in Waldorf (Blue Crabs Stadium)
- Wicomico County, Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury
- Washington County, Hagerstown Premium Outlets
- Baltimore City, M&T Bank Stadium
- Montgomery County, Montgomery College in Rockville (will be converted to a state-run site)
The state plans to open six more mass vaccination sites in the coming weeks:
- Prince George’s County, Greenbelt Metro Station (April 7)
- Baltimore County, Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium (Week of April 5)
- Frederick County, Frederick Community College (Week of April 12)
- Anne Arundel County, Navy Stadium in Annapolis (Week of April 12)
- Harford County, Ripken Stadium in Aberdeen (Week of April 19)
- Howard County, Mall in Columbia (Week of April 26)
Starting Friday, the mass vaccination site at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury will open a line for eligible Marylanders without an appointment, Hogan announced.
Maryland plans to add more no-appointment lines at other mass vaccination sites, Hogan announced. However, he added that the state still recommends appointments.
Hogan encouraged people to drive to the mass vaccination site in Salisbury over the holiday weekend.
“I think if you haven’t gotten a vaccine and you want one, I would say get in your car tomorrow, drive to the beach, stop in Salisbury, get everybody vaccinated and go to Ocean City and get some Thrasher’s french fries, stay for the weekend, and go to an Easter brunch on Sunday morning.”
People are not considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after receiving either the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine or the second round of a two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
The CDC advises fully vaccinated individuals to continue wearing a mask, social distancing, avoiding crowds and other precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19.
Fully vaccinated people can gather indoors and without a mask with other people who are fully vaccinated. They can also gather indoors and without a mask with unvaccinated people from one other household, unless any of those people are at an increase risk of severe COVID-19 illness, the CDC said.
22,438 new cases in the last three weeks, and only 677 of them were from variants. Doesn’t look like Hogan can justifiably blame the variants. He’s lying.
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