Letters to the Editor • Opinion
The coronavirus might not be the worst of it
The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Northam, Hogan, Bowser and others in their own words

Placeholder while article actions load

Here’s what regional leaders had to say about the coronavirus vaccine rollout over the past several weeks.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R):

On the need to move quickly:

“This a race between vaccinations and variants. We don’t want to have them sitting on the shelves not being used. . . . We’ve got to get more needles in more arms faster. But, we also don’t want to have too many people fighting over 80,000 vaccines. We’re trying to get the balance right.”

On significantly expanding the eligibility pool to include seniors 65 and older (which not all counties have done at the same rate):

“We didn’t want to wait until March. We wanted to get everybody vaccinated faster. But with the very slow pace of rollout, that had seemed to be where we were getting.”

— Erin Cox

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D):

On taking steps in early January to turn around Virginia’s poor national ranking for vaccine distribution:

“I sensed the frustration. I was frustrated. And so I gathered the team and said, ‘Look, we’ve got to make some adjustments.’ ”

On how the transition to a Biden administration affected Virginia’s efforts:

“’What we’re dealing with now, with the new administration, has been night and day. For one, just to know that the administration is committed to vaccinating our population. They know that they need more doses, they heard that from all the governors. They’ve expanded the shipments by 16 percent, and I think they will continue to put pressure on the pharmaceutical companies using the Defense Production Act. . . .

“And just the communication and not getting so many mixed messages out of Washington has been really helpful in the planning process.”

— interviewed by Gregory S. Schneider

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D):

“We want everybody to get the vaccine when it’s their turn. I think what we’re trying to say is the issue is scarcity. . . . These kind of frustrations will diminish as more vaccine becomes available.”

— Feb. 1 news conference

D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt

On the new “senior vaccine buddies” program attempting to overcome racial disparities by going door-to-door to offer Ward 8 seniors vaccine appointments:

“This concept of taking vaccines to the people, we are actually doing that in the District of Columbia.”

— Feb. 4 news conference

D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5):

“We heard stories of seniors who were making multiple attempts to schedule appointments. They were really in these long queues over the phone, hundreds of people ahead of them. They were waiting, in some cases, over an hour only to be told that all the appointments had been filled.

“We had frustrated seniors who didn’t have access to the Internet . . . and then, to add insult to injury, we were hearing stories of what happened when our residents went to the vaccination sites. [A member of my staff and his mother] were the only two Black folks in a line of about 75 people.

“There’s no question about what we know: that Black and Latinx residents are suffering disproportionately from the systemic health and social inequities that really put them at a higher risk of contracting covid-19. With that knowledge, the District of Columbia government should be doing everything humanly possible to meet those residents.

“You’ve got to not simply put a policy out and expect people will be able to comply with it. You’ve got to constantly ask: How’s this working? . . . Every conceivable hurdle in the way of people in underserved communities must be identified.”

— Julie Zauzmer

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Jeff C. McKay (D):

“We literally have had to ramp down. We’ve been so aggressive with this, we’ve ramped up so quickly. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I have vaccines sitting on a shelf that can otherwise be in people’s arms. . . .

“What about the parts of the state that have much higher proportions of Black and Brown people who have been disproportionately affected by covid-19? By getting more doses to Northern Virginia, you’re also helping getting doses to more diverse populations.”

— Antonio Olivo

Prince George’s County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D):

“I have heard loudly and clearly about the concerns. We share those concerns. So I apologize. This morning, I just want to send out an apology to everyone, because I know it caused great concern, great consternation, as it should have. We are here. We fixed it. And when we realized that so many from outside our jurisdictions were taking up appointments that were intended for Prince Georgians, we made adjustments.

“We had to ensure that equity occurred in terms of delivery of vaccine in our community, which was, by the way, as we all know, the most impacted in the state. So as we announced last week, going forward, you should know that we will make vaccine appointments available to residents and those working in Prince George’s County only.”

— Jan. 25 news conference

Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D):

On Hogan’s decision to expand vaccine eligibility:

“It caught everybody by surprise. Nobody expected that to happen. The state had laid out this tiered system of vaccines, which was what we were planning on. Then we were suddenly told to include 75-year-olds and a week later, those in 1C. I mean, nobody expected it.

“The number of doses has not expanded from Day 1. In opening up and telling more people that they’re eligible, they set people up for disappointment. There hasn’t been an equal emphasis on telling people not to expect an appointment, and it’s just left everyone angry.”

— interviewed by Rebecca Tan

Why the vaccine launch in D.C., Maryland and Virginia seemed so chaotic

‘It’s everywhere’: How coronavirus tore through D.C., Maryland and Virginia

Few states are tracking vaccines accurately by race. Some aren’t at all.

Local newsletters: Local headlines (8 a.m.) | Afternoon Buzz (4 p.m.)

Like PostLocal on Facebook | Follow @postlocal on Twitter | Latest local news