BALTIMORE (WJZ) — With beds “virtually full” from the ongoing surge of COVID-19 cases, the Maryland Hospital Association is calling on the general public to “receive the right care in the right place,” protect against the virus by getting vaccinated or boosted, and to maintain precautions such as mask wearing and social distancing.

As of the Tuesday, the number of Marylanders hospitalized with COVID-19 is just shy of 3,500, according to data from the state health department. The number of patients has doubled in the last two weeks and is about 1,500 people more than the previous height of the pandemic one year ago, the association said.

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“Maryland hospitals and their dedicated caregivers have been saving lives from this deadly disease for two years,” said Bob Atlas, president and CEO of the Maryland Hospital Association. “We need your help as we suffer the worst surge of this crisis.”

The group urged Marylanders to get vaccinated against COVID-19, saying 84% of patients in the hospital with the virus have not received the full series of shots.

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Additionally, residents should take precautionary steps such as masking, social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings with people outside of your immediate household to avoid infection.

Marylanders seeking medical treatment can also support the healthcare system by going to the right location for care.

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“Do not visit a hospital emergency room for a COVID-19 test or vaccine or booster,” the association said. “See your doctor, visit an urgent care center, or use a telehealth visit for minor conditions. Use emergency departments for life- or limb-threatening needs.”

CBS Baltimore Staff