ANNAPOLIS, Md. — One week after D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser reinstated indoor mask mandates across the District, following new CDC guidance, Maryland's governor declined to require masks statewide. Instead, he gave his own impassioned speech urging unvaccinated Marylanders to reconsider, reprising one of his most notable pandemic quotes.
"Just get the damn vaccine," Hogan said at Thursday's press conference. "I don’t care what misinformation or conspiracy theories that you have heard. The plain and simple fact is that these vaccines are working."
Hogan announced that proof of vaccination would be required for state employees at certain facilities, including all health departments, starting September 1. Those who fail to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination would be required to submit to weekly COVID testing and wearing PPE.
“Those of you unwilling to get vaccinated are willfully and unnecessarily putting yourself and others at risk of hospitalization or death," Hogan said. "You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us. The freedom to not wear masks, to keep our businesses open and to get our kids back in school."
Proof of vaccination will be required for state employees at these facilities:
- Maryland Department of Health and state health facilities
- Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services
- Department of Juvenile Services
- Department of Veterans Affairs
- Other state congregant living facilities as identified by the Secretary of the Department of Health
Hogan suggested that private operators of the state’s 227 nursing homes institute similar vaccination requirements for employees, citing an uptick in unvaccinated staff infections.
Maryland Department of Health data shows that 77.9% of Maryland adults are vaccinated and 93.4% of Maryland seniors are vaccinated. According to Hogan, the state continues to administer more than 11,000 doses of vaccines daily. Across the state, 3,836 fully-vaccinated Marylanders have contracted COVID, which represents less than 0.12% of state residents who are fully vaccinated; 96% of all cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in Maryland since January 2021 have been among the unvaccinated, Hogan said.
While the state has the fourth-lowest positivity rate in the country, and hospitalizations and deaths are significantly down for their peaks (83% and 94%, respectively), Hogan did remind the public that the Delta variant is two to four times more contagious than the original strain of COVID.
"While the pandemic is currently under control in Maryland, the unfortunate reality is that COVID and its variants are going to be with us in one form or another for the foreseeable future," Hogan said in his conclusion. "We need to continue to adapt, to take the right precautions, and to look out for one another, which is exactly how we have gotten through this pandemic together so far. It's how we have remained Maryland strong."