Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Thursday that state employees in congregate settings will be required to get the coronavirus vaccine or “adhere to face covering requirements and submit to regular testing.”
The new vaccine protocols are set to take effect on September 1 and will focus on 48 facilities in Maryland, ironically nicknamed the Free State from generations past. According to Hogan, “these actions are being taken to further protect our most vulnerable citizens.”
“There is nothing more effective at saving lives and keeping people out of the hospital than the vaccines, which are doing exactly what they were designed to do, which is preventing serious illness, hospitalizations and death,” Hogan said at a press conference announcing the initiative.
Hogan also said that state employees who lie about their vaccination status will face “disciplinary action” from the state. Hogan said:
I don’t care what misinformation or conspiracy theories you have heard, the plain and simple fact is that these vaccines are working. We do not want any Marylanders or any more Americans to become one of those preventable stories. So please, just get the damn vaccine.
Hogan also blamed the unvaccinated residents in Maryland for depriving others in the state the “freedom to not wear masks, to keep our businesses open, and to get our kids back in school.” Hogan added:
The vaccines are free, safe, they work, and they are widely available everywhere across the state at thousands of distribution points, including hundreds of pharmacies and primary care providers. We haven’t had outbreaks, but we’re trying to prevent outbreaks because we see it as the most-vulnerable population.
Hogan was also questioned on why he is not mandating vaccines for all residents in Maryland, to which he responded, “We do have the legal authority to do it, we just didn’t feel it was necessary or appropriate at this point in time.”
“We did have discussion about that possibility, and this was the decision that we came down to at this point,” he added. “We’re going to start with the ones that are in the congregate facilities that are with the most vulnerable folks.”
“Maryland has now transitioned from the crisis phase of the state of emergency to a more sustained, ongoing, long-term public health management response,” Hogan claimed, concluding that “the pandemic is currently under control in Maryland.”
According to WBAL-TV, “since the end of June, the hospitalization and the positivity rates have been increasing. As of Thursday, the state reported 729 new COVID-19 cases for a total of 471,334 since the pandemic began. There have been 9,622 COVID-19-related deaths in Maryland.”