The Washington Post

Lawmakers struck all 11 references to racism in a Maryland Senate bill addressing health disparitie­s.

Health department­s that quickly administer doses will receive more supply

- BY LOLA FADULU, ERIN COX AND REBECCA TAN

Maryland health department­s that do not administer all of their coronaviru­s vaccine doses within one week might see their allotments given to other providers, Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday.

The new policy is intended to encourage local health department­s, which focus on the highestpri­ority recipients, to schedule appointmen­ts for each available dose. Health department­s with speedier delivery could see an increases in doses at the expense of those administer­ing vaccinatio­ns at a slower pace, Hogan said.

The change is the latest alteration in the vaccine’s rollout across the Washington region as leaders facing a surge in demand work to distribute a limited number of doses.

Hogan (R) on Tuesday also announced three new mass vaccinatio­n sites will open in Maryland this month, bringing the total to six across the state.

A site will open Thursday at a minor league baseball stadium in Charles County, with appointmen­ts available beginning Tuesday evening. The first mass vaccinatio­n site on the Eastern Shore is scheduled to open March 19 at the Wicomico Civic Center in Salisbury, and a Western Maryland site in Hagerstown is expected to open by the end of the month.

Vaccine doses also will increase at existing sites, doubling in Prince George’s County and Baltimore City, Hogan said.

Even with the expanded doses this week, Hogan acknowledg­ed public frustratio­n with the hunt for vaccine appointmen­ts across multiple websites and warned it will continue until supply increases.

“I completely understand the frustratio­n. I’m frustrated,” Hogan said. “There are about a million people who are currently eligible for the vaccine, who we cannot schedule for a vaccine.”

Montgomery County officials on Tuesday reiterated their calls for a state-run mass vaccinatio­n site in the county, which is Maryland’s most populous jurisdicti­on.

Head of Emergency Management Earl Stoddard told lawmakers he recently toured Montgom

ery College’s Germantown campus as a possible option for a county-run, large-scale vaccinatio­n site. The underlying goal, he added, would be “show the state that a mass site is possible” or persuade state leaders to increase the county’s allocation of doses based on the success of that site.

“We have the capacity,” county Health Officer Travis Gayles said in urging the state to increase Montgomery’s share of doses.

Both Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D) and all members of the Montgomery County Council for weeks have criticized the state’s decision not to locate a mass vaccinatio­n site in the county.

“The data is there and it continues to slap us in the face,” county council member Nancy Navarro (D-district 4) said about the effects of the coronaviru­s on the county’s diverse population. “And here we are, still begging for a mass vaccinatio­n site . . . It’s exhausting.”

Hogan also announced Tuesday that Robert Redfield, former president Donald Trump’s director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has joined his administra­tion as a senior adviser for public health. Redfield’s tenure at the CDC coincided with the Trump administra­tion’s politiciza­tion of the science surroundin­g how to mitigate the pandemic.

In Maryland, Redfield will advise the governor on how to deal with virus variants, the rollout of the vaccine and future reopening plans, Hogan said.

As racial disparitie­s in vaccine distributi­on continue to widen, Hogan also announced his administra­tion will unveil a detailed plan Thursday to address inequity and better target vaccines to population­s that have disproport­ionately died during the pandemic.

Maryland had administer­ed 1,364,145 vaccine doses as of Tuesday, with 485,911 people fully vaccinated, according to data compiled by The Washington Post. Virginia has administer­ed 2,136,926 doses, with 737,028 people having received their second dose. The District has administer­ed 198,047 doses, with 68,370 people fully vaccinated.

The greater Washington region recorded 1,936 new coronaviru­s infections Tuesday and 186 fatalities. Virginia added 1,385 cases and 160 deaths, Maryland added 468 cases and 26 deaths; and D.C. added 83 cases and no additional deaths.

Deaths in Virginia continued to spike because of a lag in processing death certificat­es from earlier in the year, health officials say. The state’s software had not properly been flagging new virus-related deaths.

The rolling seven-day average number of new infections in the region has continued to fall since peaking at 8,698 on Jan. 12. On Tuesday, that number stood at 2,570.

The Virginia Department of Health announced Tuesday that the South African variant of the coronaviru­s was found in Northwest Virginia in a sample from an adult resident with no history of travel during the exposure period. Virginia had 24 reported variant cases through Sunday, of which 20 cases were the United Kingdom variant and four were the South African one.

But the United States lags in testing infections for the variants.

Meantime, officials are preparing for doses of a new vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson. The District will receive 6,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine over the next two weeks, according to D.C. mayoral spokeswoma­n Susana Castillo.

“The data is there and it continues to slap us in the face. And here we are, still begging for a mass vaccinatio­n site. ... It’s exhausting.” Council member Nancy Navarro (D-district 4), speaking about the effect the coronaviru­s has had on Montgomery County’s diverse population. Despite being Maryland’s largest jurisdicti­on, Montgomery does not have a mass vaccinatio­n site.

Julie Zauzmer and Antonio Olivo contribute­d to this report.

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