Howard County Executive Calvin Ball has committed $2 million to the Howard County General Hospital (HCGH) and $400,000 to the Howard County Health Department in American Rescue Plan funding. The $2.4 million will address critical staffing needs at both organizations amid the latest COVID-19 surge.

The funding support for HCGH comes as hospitalizations are expected to reach new heights amid the surge fueled by the delta and omicron variants. From mid-December to early January, HCGH saw a 411 percent increase in patients hospitalized with COVID-19. According to the Maryland Department of Health, Howard County’s current positivity rate is nearly 30 percent, with an average of 165 cases per 100,000 residents.

Just one month ago, the county’s positivity rate was just under 4 percent, with a case rate of approximately 10 per 100,000. HCGH currently has 63 COVID-19 patients in Acute Care and the ICU, compared to seven COVID patients a month ago.

Ball allocated the $400,000 to the Health Department during the holiday break, citing the phenomenal efforts of the staff to set-up testing, contact tracing, vaccination clinics, and the need to continue addressing other public health needs of the community.

The Ball Administration has provided more than $24 million in federal relief dollars to support private and public workers across industries. Ball allocated more than $12 million in hazard pay, straight time and overtime for county public safety workers, staff on the front line of the pandemic and members of the health department.

Last month, County Executive Ball also committed $8 million to Howard County Public School System educators and $2 million in ARP funding to provide retention and signing bonuses for school bus drivers.