Maryland expands vaccine rollout as variants increase



ANNAPOLIS (April 01, 2021)—Maryland is expanding its vaccine rollout just as the country faces what Gov. Larry Hogan, R, described as a "race between variants and vaccines."

Hogan announced at a press conference Thursday that the state is opening pre-registration for its mass vaccination sites to everyone 16 and older, just two days after Maryland entered phase 2B of the vaccine rollout plan. In 2B, everyone 16 and older with underlying conditions is eligible for the vaccine.

Rapidly spreading variants in states including New Jersey, New York, and throughout New England are becoming an increased concern to Marylanders as they creep down the East Coast and into neighboring states such as Delaware and Pennsylvania, according to Hogan.

"While we continue to do better than most states, we are obviously not immune to these variants," Hogan said. "And viruses don't recognize state borders."

Hogan stated that Maryland has been conducting what he called "sequencing testing" at one of the highest rates in the country, which has identified 677 cases of variants in the state.

The United Kingdom variant accounted for 86% of those cases, but there are currently six other known variant strains in Maryland including ones originating in New York, California, South Africa, and two from Brazil, according to Hogan.

Maryland is speeding up its vaccine administration rate, according to Hogan, who said that in the past 48 hours alone, more than 140,000 Marylanders were vaccinated.

As of this morning, 1,005,207 people in Maryland have been fully vaccinated and 2,760,176 total vaccines have been administered, according to the Maryland Covid-19 Vaccination Dashboard. (coronavirus.maryland.gov/#Vaccine)

Hogan also stated that he believes Maryland will continue to speed up the vaccination rate as long as there is supply from the federal government, over which the state does not have control.

Maryland administered approximately 99% of the total vaccines given to the state on Wednesday, according to Hogan, which he says he believes is one of the fastest rates in the country.

He attributed Maryland's success in increased vaccine distribution to the 12 open and pending mass vaccination sites across the state.

"We're attacking it from all directions," he stated and announced that the mass vaccination site on the Eastern Shore of Maryland will begin"walk-up" appointments Friday, which he says will expand across the state soon.

During the press conference, Hogan also announced that health officials are working on a plan to reopen senior centers in the state.

The plans will include vaccination clinics held inside of the centers prior to opening to ensure a safe return of activities.

The following additional mass vaccination sites are planned to open in Maryland this month:

— Maryland State Fairgrounds (Baltimore County)

— Greenbelt Metro Station (Prince George's County)—this is a FEMA site open to residents of Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Virginia

— Montgomery College, Germantown (Montgomery County)—opened this week.

— Frederick Community College (Frederick County)

— Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (Anne Arundel County)

— Ripken Stadium (Harford County)

— The Mall in Columbia (Howard County)

As many Marylanders are observing Passover or celebrating Easter this weekend, Hogan reminded Marylanders to, "have faith because we will get through this together, and better days truly are ahead."

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