The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Montgomery announces it’s getting a mass vaccination site. But Hogan says no agreement has been made.


Montgomery County officials on Tuesday said they reached an agreement with the state to bring a long-awaited mass vaccination site to the state’s most populous county — but Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan later called that announcement “premature.”

Earl Stoddard, Montgomery’s head of emergency management, told county lawmakers that the state had “committed” to a mass site and said a team of state and local officials toured Montgomery College’s campus in Germantown on Saturday, where the site would be located.

Unlike Maryland’s other mass vaccination sites, which are launched and operated by state officials, this site would probably be a “partnership” between the state, the county, Holy Cross Health and Montgomery College, Stoddard told lawmakers Tuesday. It would take the team several weeks to get the site operational, but the goal would be to administer 3,000 doses per day at the location if the state provided more doses to the county, Stoddard said.

But Hogan (R) said the state was still in discussions about a mass vaccination site in Montgomery and no decision had been made.

“I think that was a little bit premature,” Hogan said Tuesday about statements that Montgomery County officials made announcing the mass site. Hogan noted that as supply increases, the state will work with counties to open more such sites and said the state may have further announcements next week.

Hogan said that governors learned Tuesday on a call with the White House coronavirus team that vaccine supply would remain constant over the next two weeks but said there would be a “fairly dramatic increase” on March 29.

Montgomery County lawmakers said they were confused by Hogan’s comments that the announcement of the mass site was premature.

State officials had requested a meeting with county employees on Tuesday morning to iron out details on how to operate the site, said Council President Tom Hucker (D-District 5). On Tuesday, Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.) and David Trone (D-Md.) issued a statement saying they were “thrilled” that Montgomery County would be getting a mass vaccination site. Council member Nancy Navarro (D-District 4), who tweeted about the site, said that county officials had been in preliminary conversations with the state for weeks and decided only this week to publicly reveal those details because an agreement had been made.

“I don’t know why the governor would make that comment,” she said, adding that “substantive work” was already underway to transform the Montgomery College Germantown Campus into a vaccination site.

County officials have been pushing for a mass vaccination site of their own since the first such sites opened late February.

What to know about the coronavirus vaccine rollout in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

Hogan made the remarks after touring a new vaccination site at the First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, where local pastors received their shots on Tuesday.

The state facilitated a partnership between the church and the University of Maryland Medical System, which is delivering about 200 shots per day to the church twice a week and aims to get up to 1,000 per day in the next few weeks.

County Executive Angela D. Alsobrooks (D), who is a member of the church, said offering residents the opportunity to get vaccinated at a place where they feel comfortable is an important step.

She thanked Hogan for hearing the concerns of lawmakers and residents in Prince George’s, which has the lowest vaccination rates in the state.

“We wanted to make sure this vaccine was equitable and we had access to it,” she said, “We thank you for hearing us.”

The site will be exclusively for Prince Georgians, she said.

Despite the efforts to target Prince George’s residents, local representatives say the state needs a clear and specific plan to bring up the lagging vaccination rates there, which as of Monday were roughly half of the statewide average.

More than 1 million coronavirus cases reported in D.C., Maryland and Virginia

In Virginia, health officials said Tuesday that some health districts will start making coronavirus vaccines available to a new category of essential workers — among them food service workers, staff at colleges and universities, journalists and other media employees, and workers in legal services, the energy sector and housing and construction.

A department spokeswoman said that, as of Tuesday afternoon, the Eastern Shore and Danville/Pittsylvania health districts were ready to move into Phase 1C of Virginia’s vaccination effort, with state officials still gauging the readiness of other health districts.

Those that aren’t prepared to move on will continue administering doses to those in groups through Phase 1B, which includes public safety personnel, teachers and other child-care workers, grocery store workers, mail carriers and clergy.

Danny Avula, the state’s vaccine coordinator, said the newly eligible workers must preregister for a vaccine appointment before they can receive an inoculation.

With the amount of vaccine doses flowing into Virginia increasing, “in some communities, those on that preregistration list will be contacted in days, not weeks, to schedule an appointment for your vaccine,” Avula said.

Virginia officials are also working to administer vaccinations on a larger scale by opening community vaccination centers in communities that have “the largest number of vulnerable populations and communities with the largest percentage of vulnerable population and greatest covid-19 impact,” according to a Tuesday news release.

The FEMA-funded, appointment-only sites in Danville, Portsmouth and Petersburg open this week, and one in Prince William is scheduled to open next week. Residents can make appointments by visiting or calling 1-877-VAX-IN-VA.

The greater Washington region recorded 2,041 new coronavirus infections Tuesday and 69 fatalities. Virginia added 1,276 cases and 44 deaths, Maryland added 658 cases and 25 deaths; and D.C. added 107 cases and no deaths.

Erin Cox and Antonio Olivo contributed to this report.

D.C.’s Lost Year: How the pandemic upended lives and businesses across a region

Tens of thousands of children in Washington suburbs return to in-person school

Coronavirus testing launches at Reagan National, Dulles International airports

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

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