Montgomery Co. health officials working on ‘contingency plan’ in case COVID-19 rates worsen

While Montgomery County, Maryland, is ahead of much of the country in its efforts to vaccinate its residents, County Executive Marc Elrich said he is having health officials work up a plan of action if case counts begin to surge.

Elrich said the county — like much of the rest of the country — has began to see a slight uptick in their cases, and even though over 70% of the county’s population has been fully vaccinated, those who are still unvaccinated are at risk.

Without going into much detail, the county executive said he’d asked county Health Officer Dr. Travis Gayles and Director of the Office of Emergency Management Dr. Earl Stoddard to create a plan of action so the region could act quickly to stop another potential surge.

“I have asked Dr. Stoddard and Dr. Gayles and our entire COVID response team to create a contingency plan in order to prepare us for next steps if these rates worsen,” he said. “I want to be clear about that: We cannot go into something different and suddenly be asking ourselves, ‘What might we do?’ We need to think in advance and plan in advance, so if we decide we have to do something different, we’re able to implement it quickly.”

Stoddard and Gayles urged residents who had not yet received a vaccine to do so, citing cases out of Alabama, which is currently seeing a surge in infections among unvaccinated residents.

“We know that if you are unvaccinated: you don’t have any level of protection in your system, you are increasingly more likely to have a symptomatic, complicated course of illness if you contract COVID,” Gayles said.

Gayles noted that the delta variant had become the dominant strain of the virus in Maryland. The variant is believed to be more infectious and could potentially lead to a more serious infection.

“For those who have not seen the articles coming out of Alabama today — they are heart-wrenching and unfortunately exemplary of some of the challenges that are faced across the country but also being faced in Montgomery County of residents who have chosen not to be vaccinated,” Stoddard said.

“Certainly in the state of Alabama, they’re seeing a significant increase in hospitalization among that population and some of the stories are frankly heart-wrenching with people coming to realize this is not a hoax and people are begging for the vaccine far too late,” Stoddard added.

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.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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