BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Maryland recorded an all-time high in hospitalizations Wednesday with 3,462 patients. While some doctors believe the Northeast may be nearing the peak of the omicron wave, top federal officials warn the variant remains highly contagious.

“Most people are going to get covid, and what we need to do is make sure that the hospitals can still function,” Acting FDA Administrator Dr. Janet Woodcock said this week.

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Governor Larry Hogan told WJZ hospitals are short one-third of their staff because of the pandemic.

“The good news is we are starting to level off. It hasn’t been spiking the way it was, and we are pleased about that. But we’ve got a lot of people in the hospital with covid,” Hogan said. “More than 3,400 people are hospitalized today in Maryland. We have a shortage of healthcare workers for a couple of reasons. One, they are just exhausted and burned out from two years of working around the clock. Number two, many of them are actually contracting covid and they’re quarantining. Some people estimate we may be missing about one-third of our healthcare workers.”

The head of the Maryland Hospital Association told WJZ Investigator Mike Hellgren that 14 hospitals are operating under crisis standards of care and patient numbers are almost double those from one year ago.

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“We thought that was just astounding and here we are approaching double that. It’s a difficult, difficult situation,” Association president and CEO Bob Atlas said.  “The capacity is limited and yet we have this burgeoning caseload and that is squeezing out other kinds of care.

Atlas also cautioned, “If you don’t have a life-threatening emergency, don’t rush to a hospital. And certainly don’t go to the hospital just for a routine covid test.”

WJZ has also learned the cyberattack that crippled the state’s health department computers last month was ransomware: Extortionists demanded money, but Maryland did not pay.  The state has not revealed if they know who was behind it or if it is connected to other cyberattacks.

The incident left the public in the dark about how fast covid was spreading, with the state failing to update case numbers, deaths and positivity rates for weeks.

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“It’s a serious problem. They made incredible progress—a huge team of people to address the problem—but it’s not fixed. The good news is, unlike Texas and a couple of other dozen states, we haven’t lost hundreds of millions of dollars. And we haven’t compromised millions of people‘s data. But it’s a big issue. It’s a ransomware attack. They’re targeting health departments across the country,” Governor Hogan said Wednesday.