The University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center is continuing to near its capacity amid the current COVID-19 surge.
According to Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, there are 73 people hospitalized between its two hospitals in Bel Air and Havre de Grace (up from 60 last week), about 27 of which are in critical condition as of Tuesday. The majority of the patients are unvaccinated, he said.
”Our main concern is managing this as a health crisis in our hospitals,” Glassman said, “and quite clearly, unvaccinated residents are putting that pressure on the health care system.”
This is the latest symptom of the omicron variant’s growing presence in the state. Not only did Gov. Larry Hogan test positive for COVID-19 on Monday, but on Tuesday, the state health department had recorded 6,218 new COVID-19 cases — about 1 in 1,000 Marylanders and the most COVID-19 infections in a single day thus far.
“Our challenges remain the same,” said a spokesperson for Upper Chesapeake Medical Center, who did not respond to specific questions.
Glassman encouraged Harford County residents to reduce pressure on their local health care workers by getting vaccinated, and boosted if eligible.
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“The data is pretty clear that it is the most effective way for you to stay out of the hospital and have a mild case and in the event that you’re infected,” he said.
Due to the diminishing room in nearby hospitals, Glassman says people with less severe maladies may have extensive wait times or be transferred to another University of Maryland Medical System hospital.
While Harford County is 18th in the state for number of total COVID cases per 1,000 residents (86.39), it is 9th in cases per 1,000 residents in the last 14 days (3.69). The county also is home to the school with the largest COVID-19 outbreak in the state, with 110 reported cases at Youth’s Benefit Elementary School in Fallston.
Some Harford County residents seem unfazed by the recent surge. In a recent County Council meeting, Councilman Andre Johnson’s proposal to restore a mask mandate for council meetings was met with opposition from fellow Councilman Tony Giangiordano.
”COVID is here. It’s here to stay. It’s not going to go anywhere, we don’t need to be masking people for the rest of their lives,” Giangiordano said. “I’m not going to wear a mask.”
His proclamation was met with applause from the audience in the chamber.
Glassman noted that people should be managing their risk in this new “dimension” of the pandemic. “We’ve got a difficult few weeks ahead,” Glassman said.