DC’s Eleanor Holmes Norton discusses coronavirus vaccine concerns, Capitol riot hearings

Vice President Kamala Harris paid a visit to a Giant Pharmacy in Southeast D.C. in hopes of encouraging more people, especially in Black and brown communities, to get a COVID-19 vaccine if they’re eligible.

Harris was joined by D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, who knows how important it is to continue with this kind of public outreach.

“Choosing to go to Southeast mattered,” Norton told WTOP after the visit. “There’s been some reluctance [about the vaccine] in Ward 8 and in other African-American communities.”

While there’s concern about the continued skepticism about the vaccine, Norton expressed optimism that it will change with time.

“As you see people like the vice president herself coming to Ward 8, you will begin, and we are beginning, if you look at the numbers, to see more and more African Americans being willing to take their shot,” Norton said.

The visit came on the same day D.C.’s online vaccine appointment system crashed. The District made more than 4,000 new appointments available to a broader number of people who not only live in priority ZIP codes, but have certain medical conditions from asthma to cancer.

Norton said she believes D.C. is “mixing apples and oranges for the right reasons” and “that may be difficult to do.”

“When you do two very different kinds of people, one based on geography and another based on their own health, you may begin to get the kind of issues that we just saw,” Norton said. “I’m not even sure that’s what it was.”

Norton also weighed in on this week’s hearings about the testimony given by current and former security leaders about the preparations leading up to the Jan. 6 rally near the White House that devolved into a march and insurrection at the Capitol.

“They’re frustrated, members of Congress, because they’re not being open about what could’ve been done,” Norton said. “I think Congress would be willing to tolerate what happened on January 6th if there were security officials who came clean with us, and so far, we haven’t seen that efficiently.”

Earlier this month, Norton introduced a bill that would ban any future fencing around the Capitol complex, but she isn’t calling for an immediate teardown of the existing structure that’s been in place since President Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Norton hinted it should remain in light of existing threats.

“It certainly shouldn’t come down right away,” Norton said. “There may still be some chatter, so I am willing to live with the fence for the time being.”

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Ken Duffy

Ken Duffy is a reporter and anchor at WTOP with more than 20 years of experience. He has reported from major events like the 2016 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, 2016 Election Night at Trump Headquarters in Midtown Manhattan and the 2007 Super Bowl in Miami.

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