2020 | Coronavirus

Maryland on track to exceed hospital surge capacity goal, governor says

State rolling out new contact tracing platform

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Gov. Larry Hogan said Wednesday that the state is expected to exceed its hospital surge capacity goal of 6,000 beds

Image from live stream of press conference

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said on Wednesday that the state is expected to exceed its hospital bed surge capacity of 6,000 beds to accommodate patients with coronavirus.

Hogan said during a press conference in front of Laurel Medical Center that the state is set to reach a surge capacity of 6,700 beds in the coming weeks.

The governor, who was joined by Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, said 135 beds have been added at the newly renovated Laurel Medical Center. Additionally, beds have been added at hospitals in Fort Washington and Cheverly.

Hogan said 22 surge response tents are being built at hospitals throughout the state, including Holy Cross Hospital and Washington Adventist Hospital, both in Montgomery County.

Montgomery County officials have estimated that the county could reach its peak of coronavirus cases some time this week.

It was not immediately clear what Montgomery County’s hospital surge capacity was. Mary Anderson, a spokeswoman for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hogan also announced an agreement that the state entered on Wednesday with the National Opinion Research Center, a University of Chicago institution, to increase its contact tracing operation.

“Under this agreement, we will quadruple our present disease investigation capability and ramping up to be able to contact 1,000 new cases per day,” he said.

Hogan said the state is launching a new contact tracing platform called COVID Link that will collect information about Marylanders who test positive for the virus and people who they’ve come in contact with to determine who needs to self-isolate.

He said COVID Link will use data from the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients, which serves Maryland and Washington, D.C.

Hogan said the state has acquired 5.9 million surgical masks, 2.3 million surgical gowns and 1.1 million face shields.

On Monday, he announced the state had acquired 500,000 coronavirus test kits from South Korea. He did not give any additional details Wednesday on how they would be distributed.

Montgomery County health officials have said they had not yet heard how many of the 500,000 test kids would be sent to the county.

As of Wednesday morning, there were 14,775 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Maryland and 631 deaths. More than 1,400 patients were currently in the hospital.

Hogan told reporters on Wednesday that he plans to announce details about the state’s recovery plan on Friday. He said federal guidelines issued last week call for states to wait until there is a downward trend of hospitalizations before reopening the economy.

“We are not at that point. And if you look at the Maryland, Virginia, and D.C. area … we are still on an upward trajectory,” he said.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com

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For other Bethesda Beat coverage of the coronavirus, click here.

To see a timeline of major coronavirus developments in Maryland and Montgomery County, click here.