BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ) — Governor Larry Hogan stressed that Maryland is taking the rapid spread of the omicron covid variant seriously.
The strain has now been detected in California in a fully vaccinated person with mild symptoms.
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Hogan: “If omicron does come to Maryland, we will find it.“ @wjz
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) December 1, 2021
“I urge Marylanders not to panic. This is not the first variant we have seen, and it is almost certainly not going to be the last,” Hogan said at a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
The governor said Maryland has authorized more money for testing and sequencing with partnerships at University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins’ labs to detect any omicron cases.
“Maryland has one of the strongest surveillance operations in America, and we are now sequencing at three times the level recommended by public health experts,” he said.
The governor again rejected adding any new restrictions—including mask mandates.READ MORE: Maryland Weather: Nor'Easter Snowstorm Arrives
“While I do not believe in blanket mandates, I do believe In personal responsibility,” Hogan said.
At BWI-Marshall airport, rapid antigen tests are available free of cost to passengers arriving on international flights.
Making free rapid tests available at the international terminal at @BWI_Airport.
— Michael Ricci (@riccimike) December 1, 2021
An urgent care clinic opened in August at the airport that offers testing, vaccines and boosters. Hogan encourages everyone who thinks they may have been exposed to get tested.
“Getting your vaccination and booster shot is absolutely the best way to protect yourself and your fellow Marylanders this holiday season,” Hogan said.
Right now, it is unclear how effective current vaccines are against omicron and whether it causes more severe illness. Some doctors believe omicron may be more contagious.MORE NEWS: 'I Am Innocent': Marilyn Mosby Talks To Churchgoers About Federal Charges
That has some Marylanders, like Peggy Ager of Pasadena, concerned. “I am worried because of the multiple mutations they’re recognizing from this variant—and we already know how deadly and dangerous the delta variant was,” she told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren. “What concerns me is that we never seem to get out of this. People don’t seem to do what they’re supposed to do: Wear your mask, get vaccinated.”