April 23, 2020

Important Updates from the COVID-19 Legislative Work Group: April 22, 2020

Maryland’s Joint COVID-19 Legislative Work Group was convened to address the challenging circumstances presented created by the novel coronavirus.  The group shares weekly briefings on Maryland’s response: This week’s update featured a briefing as well as a question-and-answer session with Drs. Mohan Suntha (University of Maryland Medical System) and Stephen Evans (MedStar Health) See below for an overview of important topics covered.

Briefing from Drs. Mohan Suntha and Stephen Evans


Mohan Suntha, MD, President and CEO, UMMS

  • Have been able to allocate resources to where the surge has been the most prominent.
  • We are very focused on PPE supplies, currently have an appropriate amount.
  • Also focused on conserving PPE for upcoming weeks.
  • Testing and tracing will need to increase in order to begin reopening our communities.
  • We’ve tested around 7,000 patients:
    • 44% are African American
    • 43% are Caucasian
    • 5% are Hispanic
  • Positive Testing Percentages:
    • 21% of our African American patients have tested positive
    • 9% of our Caucasian patients have tested positive
    • 26% of our Hispanic patients have tested positive
    • 97% of our patients have been hospitalized
  • Percentages of Deaths:
    • 5% of our African American Covid-19 positive patients have passed away
    • 6% of our Caucasian Covid-19 positive patients have passed away
    • 5% of our Hispanic Covid-19 positive patients have passed away


Stephen Evans, MD, Executive Vice President, Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer, MedStar Health

  • We have created 36 testing sites across Mid-Atlantic
  • 14 Urgent Care Sites
  • 10 Medical Group Sites
  • 3 Testing Sites
  • 9 of our ED’s
  • 15,000 patients have been tested, 21% are positive.
  • We have built out a large telehealth platform, and have screened 12,600 patients so far with this platform.
  • Our urgent cares have seen 21,500 patients and have tested 5,000.
  • Admitted about 1,200 patients, as of now there are 465 patients.
  • Of 465 patients, 100 are currently intubated
  • Critical care capabilities have been expanded by 100%.
  • Via our telehealth platform we have helped 41,000 patients.
  • To date, we have discharged 619 patients that were Covid-19 positive from our hospitals.
  • We are continuing to build our PPE amount.


Questions & Answers:


Delegate Jackson: What are we doing to ensure that where the most need is that there is experience and expertise in that jurisdiction?

  • Mohan Suntha: We have the expertise that has historically defined critical care delivery in the county, which is through the leadership of the shock trauma program at the University of Maryland.
  • Stephen Evans: It’s important to keep Prince George’s county residents in Prince George’s county. We have transferred 14 additional ventilators to their ICU.


Senator Lam: What concerns do you have as health systems if loosening restrictions were to begin? What plans do you have in place to try to address that?

  • Stephen Evans: We are looking for a consecutive 14 day decline in hospitalizations and ICU admissions to consider the reopening of the state.


Delegate Ghrist: What percentage are we at as far as capacity?

  • Stephen Evans: We still have a significant statewide capacity, some hospitals in hotspots of the state are running at capacity. We are helping to support them.
  • Mohan Suntha: We are able to currently deliver care while maintaining appropriate levels of staffing and resources. We have capacity to grow.


Ben Ferguson: Testing issue seems to be open ended. Do you believe it is a local jurisdiction responsibility, the states’ responsibility, or the federal government’s responsibility? Where do you think the coordination and testing procurement has to lie moving forward?

  • Mohan Suntha: I believe it will be a collective effort as it has been to date. We need to continue working together.


Ben Ferguson: Do you think each hospital should be responsible for its own external spaces plus its hospital setting? Or do you think the coordinating should be done at the state level or each local jurisdiction should be coordinating that?

  • Mohan Suntha: I believe there is value to there being some central coordination for that. I would argue for testing, it’s going to be the same benefit.
  • Stephen Evans: I think we are all waiting for the big commercial players to put out large platforms for rapid testing.


Briefing from County Executives


Angela Alsobrooks, Prince George’s County

  • Prince George’s county has the largest amount of confirmed cases in Maryland.
    • 3,800 confirmed positive cases and 140 have resulted in death.
  • Required face coverings in public before the statewide order took place.
  • Many in the area do not have health insurance or primary care doctors
  • On March 30th we setup a screening site:
    • We have screened over 800 individuals and tested 720. The facility is open three days a week and is able to test 200 people per day open.
  • Laurel hospital has been opened for additional bed capacity.
  • Estimated that Prince George’s county has 47,000 unemployed, and 30,000 have applied for unemployment.
  • We hosted our first Tele-Town Hall meeting on March 17th, there were over 36,000 residents listening in.
    • Hosted the same again on April 9th, there were about 61,000 residence listening in.
  • Men appear to be waiting too long to seek treatment.


Barry Glassman, Harford County

  • 230 positive cases so far.
  • Local hospitals are at 40% capacity.
  • We received a shipment of PPE last week.
  • EMS calls are down by 40%.
  • We are seeing a few hotspots in a few of our nursing homes.
  • Experiencing a few areas in the county struggling to get reliable Wi-Fi for their telework or distance learning needs.


John Olszewski, Jr., Baltimore County

  • We have opened our Emergency Operations Center.
  • 675,000 meals have been given to date in partnership with the school system.
  • 70% of non-public safety workers are able to telework.
  • We have stood up several committees to manage government response.
  • Took a $40 million revenue write down in early April.
  • Enacted a hiring freeze on non-essential employees.
  • Hospitals in Baltimore county are accepting overflow patients from the national capital region.
  • Our first testing facility is at the fairgrounds, we are looking to set up a second facility along Liberty Road corridor.
  • Biggest concern is our long term care facilities, we have about 57 facilities with outbreaks.


Questions & Answers:


Delegate Pena-Melnyk: In cases where people may not have a safe place to recover after testing positive for Covid-19, what are the counties doing?

  • Barry Glassman: Four counties with less that 500,000 people we have to apply for reimbursement through the health department. In Harford county we have rented a hotel for homeless, first responders, and those that do not want to go home and risk infecting family members.
  • John Olszewski: We had to file an application for funding, it will be about $144 million for Baltimore county. We have rented hotels as well for homeless or at risk individuals. We have a partnership with Towson University for our first responders, there are also RV’s we have rented at the fairgrounds. Looking at more we can do moving forward.


If you have any questions or concerns reach out to us directly at 410-321-8200.


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