ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — The state is launching a new initiative, MarylandMedNow to beef up staffing at hospitals, nursing homes, testing sites and vaccination clinics as part of a hospital surge plan to keep up with demand as coronavirus cases surge in the state.

Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday they are looking for Marylanders who have clinical backgrounds to work at these sites. Anyone interested in serving can click here to learn more.

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“The current surge is not only increasing the burden on our health care system, and filling available hospital beds, but it is also affecting our health care workers who are already spread thin and operating under immense strain and stress,” the governor said.

MORE HOGAN NEWS CONFERENCE COVERAGE:

The state is also requesting all colleges, universities immediately develop emergency policies and procedures to give academic credit to any students who are willing to work in health care during the pandemic.

These institutions are also being encouraged to allow these students in their final semester and have satisfied graduation requirements to be able to “early exit” and graduate to join the workforce as quickly as possible.

“I think there’s a great opportunity to involve students in the response, students who are particularly health science students who are partially trained and understand some antiseptic techniques, how to put a shot in someone’s arm, vaccinate, how to collect samples for testing, there’s great opportunity there for colleges and universities to think through collectively, how to make sure students are brought into the response,” said Dr. David Marcozzi, the state’s COVID-19 commander and UMMS Sr. Medical Advisor to Gov. Hogan.

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Any non-deployed school nurses, health services staff and other county employees could also be a source for help, the governor urging counties to utilize them to staff the state’s testing and vaccination sites across Maryland.

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“Beds are filling up,” Dr. Marcozzi said.

Hospitals are now required to submit a patient surge plan with strategies to expand hospital beds and make staffing surge adjustments, as over 20 hospitals are above 90% capacity. They should have that plan ready and submitted to the Maryland Department of Health by December 8.

The state said hospitals should also immediately begin adding or redistributing staff, reducing noncritical elective procedures that require a bed or ventilator and transferring patients to other appropriate treatment facilities.

The governor said that 21 hospitals have already reached more than 90% of their capacity and 130 surge beds are already in use around the state, including at the Baltimore Convention Center and in Laurel.

He added the state has 6,816 Marylanders in state hospitals. If and when the state reaches 8,000 hospitalizations, all hospitals will be required to expand their staffed bed capacity by 10% within seven days.

Read the state’s full amended health order here.

Watch Gov. Hogan’s full Tuesday afternoon news conference below:

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

CBS Baltimore Staff