New Phase Begins in COVID Crisis

May 18, 2020 By: Bob Atlas

It seems Maryland reached the peak in COVID-19 hospitalizations about a week ago. This was welcome news that Gov. Larry Hogan capped off this week by lifting our state’s stay-at-home order and replacing it, effective yesterday, with a “safer at home public health advisory.”

Hospitals across the state have acquitted themselves very, very well over the last two months. No small thanks go to all of you for your extraordinary efforts that made it look to outsiders as if we had it well in hand.

And we cannot fail to express sincere gratitude to our partners in government who’ve helped greatly. The MDH folks who helped create surge capacity and solve PPE shortages. The people at the Department of Education, who stood up child care for health care and other essential workers. The commissioners and staff at HSCRC who deployed our rate setting system to bolster hospitals’ finances.

But this crisis isn’t over, it’s just entering a new phase. Gov. Hogan has now begun to loosen restrictions on people’s movement and on economic activity. Marylanders will head to the beaches. Tourists will come in search of crabs. And many of us will venture back to retail shops and hair salons.

No doubt, even if people adhere to social distancing guidelines and cover their faces in public settings, Maryland will see an uptick in COVID-19 cases.

We in the hospital field must stay vigilant and ready to handle a possible new wave—and perhaps several more waves over the next year or longer. Those waves can be kept manageable, one hopes, with good contact tracing and better testing. But until there’s a vaccine in widespread use and effective drug therapies, hospitals will continue to receive plenty of COVID-19 patients. At the same time, we expect the number of patients having other needs to return to, or near to, pre-pandemic levels.

You deserve congratulations for protecting Marylanders. Take just a moment to reenergize. Help your teammates regain their resilience. Welcome to the fourth inning.

Bob Atlas
President & CEO