BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland is under a new 30-day state of emergency as hospitals struggle with more than 3,000 patients right now, a record number.

Governor Larry Hogan issued a dire warning that the worst of the wave will likely not end until the middle of next month.

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“The next four to six weeks will be the most challenging times of the pandemic,” Hogan told reporters.  “Our latest projections as of today show that Covid-related hospitalizations could reach more than 5,000.”

In a series of emergency orders, the governor will allow those with out-of-state and expired medical licenses to practice. He will also provide more flexibility to transfer patients between hospitals, among other measures.

Hospitalizations have exploded—rising more than 500% in just seven weeks.

“It’s incredibly disheartening and discouraging to be on the health care front lines and know that much of the current situation was avoidable,” said Dr. Ted Delbridge, the executive director of MIEMSS. https://www.miemss.orgMIEMSS

Dr. Delbridge said at least nine hospitals are  practicing crisis standards of care with three more poised to do so.

But even with the surge in cases, the governor said he will not make masks mandatory.

“It sometimes has the opposite effect. I’m not sure that the people who are refusing to wear a mask are going to wear one anyway. And we don’t have the ability to enforce it. So we’re just strongly encouraging people to wear the damn mask, but we don’t need a mandate to force businesses to do that. We’re encouraging them to do so,” Hogan told reporters.

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More children are getting sick. Last week, a 10-year-old boy from Anne Arundel County died from covid complications according to an online fundraiser for his funeral expenses.

Right now, only 33% of those aged 5 to 11 have been vaccinated.

The governor says 12-to 15-year-olds can now get booster shots. He wants schools to stay open. “They may be safer in school than they are not being in school,” the governor said.

Hogan also deployed 1,000 members of the Maryland National Guard. 250 of them will assist with testing, and 20 new testing sites will open outside hospitals.

“if one characteristic has epitomized the Maryland National Guard‘s response to COVID-19, it has been adaptability,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Gowen.

The governor said he would press President Biden for more rapid tests, antiviral pills and monoclonal antibody treatments. All are hard to get right now, although governor hogan did receive an antibody infusion during his own recent bout with Covid-19.

“For me, it was like a pretty bad cold, and that’s because i was fully vaccinated and boosted. I’m thankful for that so I didn’t end up in the hospital or dead like so many other folks have in Maryland,” Hogan said.

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11,706 people have died in Maryland since the pandemic began.

CBS Baltimore Staff