Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Tuesday named Dr. Robert Redfield, the former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a senior adviser for public health.
At a news conference, Hogan said the Maryland native would advise him on all aspects of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, including vaccines and the reopening of schools and businesses.
As CDC director, Hogan said, Redfield “always emphasized the importance of following the science,” and he trusted that Redfield would do the same in his new role.
“It’s great to be able to return to Maryland and continue to serve as a member of your team,” Redfield said. He added that vaccines “are the most important gift of science to modern medicine — and now we have three,” alluding to the recently approved Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Redfield said he had been to the mass vaccination site at M&T Stadium in Baltimore and was impressed by how many people had turned up to be vaccinated. His message to Marylanders was to “embrace vaccines with confidence.”
Hogan touted coronavirus numbers – a test-positivity rate of 3.5% and a case rate of 13.1 per 100,000, both of which are the lowest since late October. On Monday, he said, the number of Marylanders 65 and older who have been vaccinated passed the 40% mark.
Hogan said 49,600 doses of the new Johnson & Johnson vaccine would be allocated to Maryland this week, with doses going to mass vaccination sites, local health departments, hospitals and more. People could start getting shots as early as Tuesday.
He cautioned that this initial allocation was all Maryland would get for a couple of weeks, as production still ramps up. There will be no Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses for Maryland next week or the week after; Hogan said the federal government promised a new shipment on or before March 18.
Hogan also detailed the plans for new and expanded mass vaccination sites in Maryland, all contingent on increases in allocations from the federal government:
- The site at Six Flags America in Prince George’s County will double from 2,000 shots a day to 4,000 this week, Hogan said.
- The M&T Bank Stadium site will ramp up to 2,000 shots a day, while the Baltimore Convention Center site will more than double in capacity, and prioritize underserved communities in Baltimore.
- A Charles County mass vaccination site will open Thursday, and additional appointment slots are opening up Tuesday evening.
- An Eastern Shore site in Salisbury will open March 18 or earlier, and a site will open in Hagerstown by the end of this month.
Anyone looking to make an appointment can go to covidvax.maryland.gov, or call 1-855-MD-GOVAX.
Hogan said hospitals and local health departments had been getting larger allocations, and that he would consider even more “if they can show that they’ve delivered them.” Such sites would have to show they had used their doses in the week they got them.
“Doses cannot be allowed to sit … while hundreds of thousands of people are desperately trying to schedule an appointment,” Hogan said.
He added that while the pace of vaccinations was accelerating, he understood the frustration of people who couldn’t get appointments.
“I completely understand the frustration,” Hogan said. “I’m frustrated. Everyone up here is frustrated. Everyone at the White House is frustrated. Everyone in America is frustrated. There are about a million people who are currently eligible for the vaccine who we cannot schedule for a vaccine.”
“It’s not about a website or a process; it’s about the fact that there aren’t any vaccines. … You cant schedule vaccines for vaccines that don’t exist.”
Hogan added that he was “very proud” of Redfield’s leadership at the CDC, saying the agency’s guidance “is what we followed” in Maryland. Redfield served under former President Donald Trump, and Hogan said he was “not going to defend everything the president said or did … but I don’t think any of that criticism was directed toward [Redfield].”
Redfield, for his part, said his biggest disappointment during his time there was “the inconsistency of messaging,” but that the CDC is “the premier health organization in the world.”
In Maryland, he said, “the public health message is echoed by civic leaders.”
The governor also said that on Thursday he would unveil a statewide equity plan for vaccinations, which he called the first of its kind in the country.
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