BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As Maryland braces for a surge of COVID-19 cases this winter, Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced that nursing homes will be required to offer monoclonal antibody treatments.

The new requirement is part of the state’s effort to help nursing homes ward off potential outbreaks resulting from the emergence of the Delta and Omicron variants, the governor’s office said.

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“We continue to work closely with our nursing homes to protect our most vulnerable residents against COVID-19,” Hogan said. “Just as these facilities offer vaccines and booster shots, we want to make sure they are offering antibody treatments as soon as any outbreaks occur.”

Dozens of nursing homes and long-term care facilities across the state offer monoclonal antibody drugs, treatments that can reduce the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and have been billed as one way to keep people out of the hospital.

The new measures come as Maryland contends with elevated hospitalizations. State health officials on Wednesday established a surge operations center to deal with a potential influx of patients, and hospitals were directed to submit pandemic plans to the state.

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Over the past week, the state has reported that hospitals are treating more than 1,000 patients for COVID-19, a mark previously not seen in the state since late April.

Under existing directives, nursing homes are required to screen anyone—staff, volunteers, vendors and visitors—who enters nursing homes, and to provide staff with personal protective equipment (PPE). Among other measures, they’re also required to maintain emergency preparedness plans.

The governor said the best way for Marylanders to protect themselves is with vaccines and boosters.

“From everything we know about these variants, the most important thing Marylanders can do right now is get vaccinated and get a booster shot,” Hogan said.

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Citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, the governor announced last month that 99% of Maryland’s seniors have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The state ranks among the top 10 in the nation in booster shots for seniors.

CBS Baltimore Staff