BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Thursday announced the state’s long-term response plan to the COVID-19 pandemic, which includes expanded testing and treatment infrastructure, keeping Marylanders boosted against the virus, and preparing for future surges.

The five-pronged plan, called COVIDReady Maryland, aims to “maximize tools and treatmements available to keep people healthy and out of the hospital, and maintain a state of readiness to respond to emerging variants and potential waves,” the governor’s office said.

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The first pillar of the plan is to expand on the federal “test-to-treat” program, which makes it possible to get testing and treatment at the same time. The program helps make antiviral treatments for COVID-19 more accessible to help reduce hospital visits.

Over 80 Maryland health providers, including the State Center in Baltimore, are currently part of the test-to-treat program, and the governor said the state will be activating dozens more in the coming weeks.

The second pillar of the state’s plan is maximizing the utilization of therapeutics for COVID-19 by allowing any health care provider to make referrals for treatment, which includes test-to-treat sites, pharmacies, primary care providers and telehealth.

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While therapies are a relatively new tool, they are becoming more prevalent. Although the treatments are not cures, they have a high success rate in keeping people out of the hospital.

Getting booster shots to all eligible populations is the third pillar of the state’s plan, as well as getting more Marylanders vaccinated as they come eligible.

The governor announced the state is launching a new web portal that will tell residents whether they are up to date on their COVID-19 vaccines. If a resident is not up to date, the portal directs them to a site where they can make an appointment.

The fourth pillar of COVIDReady Maryland is enhanced outreach and awareness of the pandemic through a new round of public service announcements and text and phone campaigns.

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Surge preparedness is the final pillar of the state’s plan. The precautions include a multi-agency task force to monitor emerging variants and outbreaks and maintaining public health resources, like an at-home test and PPE stockpile.

Officials also gave an update on the state’s preparations for vaccinations for children under 5. Pending federal approval, Maryland will have COVID-19 vaccines available for infants and toddlers as early as June 20.

CBS Baltimore Staff