As we pass the midway point of the 30-day COVID-19 state of emergency, all of the current data is showing very encouraging trends with many of our key health metrics consistently and substantially declining. But we are not out of the woods, and we will continue taking actions every single day to combat this surge of the Omicron variant.
We have opened 20 hospital-based testing sites across the state to help ease the burden on hospitals and emergency rooms. We are continuing to work on emergency procurements to secure as many at-home rapid tests as possible, and we are in the process of distributing 20 million N95 and KN95 masks to schools, nursing homes, local health departments, and at all state-run testing and vaccination sites.
We are providing $5 million to specialty hospitals that receive COVID-positive patients to assist them with labor costs. On Monday, we will be introducing the Health Care Heroes Act as emergency legislation to codify some of the actions we have taken to address workforce shortages at our health care facilities. We are also launching another round of antibody testing in nursing homes to help determine whether we move forward with a potential fourth dose for some of our most vulnerable residents.
The next 10 days to two weeks are going to be critical. We ask Marylanders to remain vigilant and to keep doing the things that keep us safe: avoiding crowds, wearing a mask, and staying home if you feel sick. The most important thing you can do is get a booster shot. We can’t stress this enough: no one should think of a booster as just a bonus or an extra dose. It provides critical protection against the Omicron variant. To find a vaccine provider, visit covidvax.maryland.gov.
Thank you all for remaining Maryland Strong.