ANNAPOLIS — Governor Larry Hogan didn’t mince his words during Thursday’s press conference regarding the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
“Just get the damn vaccine,” he said as he urged continued caution in the face of a highly contagious form of the virus.
Not all states have a governor who speaks to his constituents this way. In Florida, Texas and Louisiana, there has been skepticism and resistance at the highest state offices — and those state have one-third of all the new cases in the country.
“The Delta variant is spreading like wildfire” in those states, Gov. Hogan said. But in Maryland, “We have one of the lowest case rates in the nation.”
Nearly 78 percent of Maryland adults have been vaccinated. Very few of them become seriously ill, Gov. Hogan said — fewer than 0.01 percent are hospitalized, and fewer than 0.001 percent of them have died.
Delta now accounts for nearly 100 percent of new COVID-19 cases, he said, and may cause more severe illness. As a result, Gov. Hogan announced new vaccination policies for some state employees, who must show proof of vaccination. If they don’t, they will be required to use face coverings and take regular tests.
Vaccine protocols, effective Sept. 1, were announced for:
• Department of Health, state health care (11 facilities)
• Department of Juvenile Services facilities (12 facilities)
In general, though, the state is not imposing any mandates or shutdowns, the governor said.
Speaking of the effectiveness of the vaccines in protecting Marylanders — 99.99 percent free from serious illness — Gov. Hogan said, “Look, I don’t care what misinformation or conspiracy theories you’ve heard. The plain and simple fact is that these vaccines are working.”
“Those of you who refuse to get vaccinated at this point are willfully and unnecessarily putting yourself and others at risk of hospitalization and death. You are the ones threatening the freedoms of all the rest of us: the freedom not to wear a mask, to get our businesses open, and to get our kids back in school.”
The next few weeks, he said, will be crucial ones in the state’s health as Maryland faces the spread of Delta.
Deputy Secretary of the Maryland Department of Health Dr. Jinlene Chan said, “We have seen an upsurge in cases” of Delta in the last few weeks, adding that nearly 100 percent of new cases of COVID-19 in the state are the Delta variant. “It is spreading extremely rapidly,” she said.
“It you don’t get a vaccination, and you don’t wear a mask, you are going to get COVID-19,” Gov. Hogan said.
To learn where to receive vaccinations, call 1-855-MD-GOVAX.