State putting $10M toward COVID mass vaccinations

Gov. Larry Hogan is seen here in a photo courtesy of the Executive Office of the Governor at a news conference Thursday, Nov. 12.

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan said the state is putting $10 million toward buying syringes and other medical equipment for planned COVID-19 mass vaccinations.

During a Nov. 12 press conference, Hogan announced the money for vaccinations and other COVID steps the state is taking as the number of reported cases of the virus has increased following the 2020 election. The state funding totals $70 million and is coming from federal coronavirus money and programs.

Maryland submitted mass vaccination plans to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control in October. The move comes as Pfizer and other drug companies look to soon deploy a coronavirus vaccine.

“Today we are providing the initial funding of that plan with an investment of $10 million for the acquisition of syringes and other necessary vaccination supplies,” Hogan said during the briefing in Annapolis.

Public opinion polls — including in Maryland — show resistance and skepticism toward a COVID vaccine.

Talbot County Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley expects to see some Americans waiting to see how the vaccine performs for others before getting it themselves.

Hogan said Thursday he continues to worry about rising COVID-19 case rates and hospitalizations both in Maryland and nationally.

“Unfortunately, we have more tough times ahead of us. It is going to get worse before it gets better,” Hogan said.

The governor also announced the state was allocating an additional $20 million to increase stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE). Hogan said the move aims to give the state a 90-day supply of masks, gloves and other PPE as reported cases and hospitalizations rise.

Hogan continued to voice frustration with the lack of a new coronavirus stimulus bill out of Washington. “There’s a little bit of a vacuum right now,” Hogan said referring to President Donald Trump’s continued fight against media projections of Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 White House race.

Hogan did not announce any new restrictions or shutdowns on Thursday. Other states — including New York — and other countries have imposed fresh COVID restrictions in response to the recent rise in cases.

Hogan also announced $15 million for the Maryland Department of Labor to increase staffing to handle unemployment insurance claims and $10 million in additional relief for renters struggling because of the economic impacts of the virus.

The state is also putting $1 million toward sampling wastewater to track the presence of the coronavirus.

Hogan said the program could help the state identify communities and facilities — such as prisons — where the virus might be present and growing.

A pilot program launched over the summer showed wastewater sampling can give advance notice of an outbreak before it is detected through traditional testing.

Hogan said during the Thursday briefing that he was canceling his own Thanksgiving plans with his children and grandchildren because of concerns about the virus. “Everybody is going to stay home with their immediate families. It’s exactly what we are telling people,” Hogan said.

The governor will spend the holiday with his wife Yumi Hogan.

“I’m taking my own advice,” said Hogan referring to his warnings against parties and get-togethers.

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