Two groups of local elected officials have written to Gov. Larry Hogan (R) urging him to address availability and racial equity issues with the COVID-19 vaccines in Montgomery County.
All nine County Council members signed on to a letter, spearheaded by Councilmember Will Jawando (D-At Large), sent Wednesday asking the governor to specifically address racial inequity in both the vaccine distribution and the pre-registration system.
The letter notes that while white people make up 43% of the county’s population, two-thirds of pre-registrants are white.
At the same time, Blacks make up 19% of the population but only 8% of pre-registrants, while Latinos are 20% and 9%, respectively, of the population and pre-registrants.
“Black residents are dying at higher rates and we’re not getting vaccinated,” said Jawando in a press release. “Our Latino population has also been disproportionately affected by this disease. We need a statewide approach that factors in race and ethnicity. We want everyone to have access and it needs to be done in a targeted way.”
The letter also includes a list of suggested components for the governor to include in any plans to deal with these issues, such as “Require all vaccine distributors to be fully transparent and report their distributions on a weekly basis based on race, age, and zip code of recipients.”
The council’s letter was followed on Thursday by one from U.S. Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-District 8) and David Trone (D-District 6) asking Hogan to open a mass vaccination site in Montgomery County.
The state currently has six such sites in operation; the closet one to the county is at Six Flags in Prince George’s County “despite Montgomery suffering the worst casualty rate in Maryland and despite having the second-highest number of cases in the state, it still has no mass vaccination site,” the letter reads.
A site in Montgomery County also would help address the inequity issue, the two wrote: “Although you have emphasized that the mass vaccination sites in Baltimore and Prince George’s counties are open to Montgomery County residents, this offer seems like cold comfort when so many logistical hurdles face lower-income, working-class, immigrant, and senior residents in Montgomery who are unable to arrange transportation or get time off from work to travel to distant sites.”
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