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Maryland Health Department activates public health registry amid coronavirus pandemic

The Maryland Department of Health wants health care professionals who want to volunteer as first responders to provide services during a disaster or emergency situation.

On Friday, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan’s office asked health care practitioners to be a part of the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps. Hogan spokesman Mike Ricci said the state is accepting online registration from retired and inactive health care professionals as well.

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The creation of the Medical Reserve Corps comes as one of Hogan’s emergency actions in response to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The virus, which has accounted for more than 10,000 deaths worldwide, is said to be more fatal to seniors and those with compromised immune systems.

The state revealed Friday morning that Maryland has now confirmed 149 cases of COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus, which is up from 107 cases Thursday. Hogan on Wednesday confirmed Maryland’s first death as a result of the virus.

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Several businesses and public services have either closed or been restricted statewide in response to the pandemic. The state updates the number of cases confirmed each day at 10 a.m. while counties and local jurisdictions may announce cases separate of those confirmed by the state.

The Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps, according to the state’s website, is a “community-based, civilian, volunteer program” that helps build the public health infrastructure and response capabilities of communities in Maryland. Volunteers will be called upon when local resources have been exhausted or are overwhelmed and additional help has been requested.

Maryland Responds, previously known as the Maryland Professional Volunteer Corps, is administered by the Maryland Department of Health Office of Preparedness and Response. Maryland Responders include medical and public health professionals, such as physicians, nurses, physician assistants, pharmacists, dentists, veterinarians and epidemiologists. Many other non-medical community members also support the Medical Reserve Corps, such as interpreters, chaplains, office workers, and legal advisors.

Volunteers may provide care directly to individuals seeking medical or mental health attention at disaster relief shelters. Likewise, volunteers may also assist their communities with ongoing public health needs, such as immunizations and screenings.

Membership in the program is open to anyone over age 18 who is interested in assisting in the event of an emergency. Volunteers will not be required to serve all day, and tasks will be outlined in the request. The registration system for the Maryland Responds Medical Reserve Corps will collect basic information about public health practitioners and their professional skills. Registration is available online.

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