TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski said Monday that there are only 14 staffed ICU beds currently available in Baltimore County.

The news came as Olszewski joined Baltimore County Health Officer Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch and local hospital leaders to provide an update on COVID-related hospitalizations and vaccines.

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“Today, we gather to sound the alarm,” Olszewski said as he warned of an anticipated surge in COVID-19 cases as winter bears down on Maryland.

Olszewski said health officials are increasingly concerned what January could look like, particularly with many people expected to attend holiday gatherings over the next few weeks.

As of Monday, the Maryland Department of Health reported there were 1,345 people hospitalized statewide with COVID-19.

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Last week, the state directed hospitals to free up beds and delay scheduling non-emergency procedures after the state reached 1,200 hospitalizations.

“We might be done with COVID, but COVID is most surely not done with us,” Olszewski said. “With Christmas now just a few days away, the best way to protect our loved ones and to fight the spread of this variant is to wear a mask, get vaccinated and get boosted.”

Olszewski noted that unvaccinated individuals are driving hospitalizations, and he asked that the Baltimore County residents put aside any ideological concerns they might have to protect their community.

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“It’s time to cut through the misinformation and lies about the effectiveness and the safety of vaccines and masks,” Olszewski said. “You don’t need an appointment and shots remain plentiful. Please do your part to save your life and the lives of others. Help us put this pandemic behind us.”

CBS Baltimore Staff