Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich says his son came down with COVID-19 following a trip visiting with family.
Elrich told WTOP that his son, who lives in Medellín, Colombia, and was fully vaccinated, was recently visiting family between late August and early September.
More than a month after returning to Colombia, Elrich said his son fell ill, texting him a message about his positive test for COVID-19.
“He had a very mild case,” says Elrich. “He was uncomfortable, didn’t have much energy and was pretty lethargic for about five days and returned to normal.”
Elrich said he was surprised at his son’s quick recovery.
“He’s kind of the good example of the minimal effect that COVID-19 might have on a vaccinated person, but he still got it,” Elrich said
Elrich said he himself did not have to get tested over his son’s illness.
The county executive also has another pressing matter to deal with at the local level: whether to toughen up the current vaccine policy for all county workers.
Employees were told to submit proof of vaccination status by Sept. 18 or submit to weekly testing. But many members on the county council are calling for something more even stricter, even if it means firing a worker who isn’t vaccinated.
Elrich said he’s a “big believer” in vaccine mandates, but is still in the process of hashing out a final decision.
“We would have to get really aggressive about that [testing] if we’re going to make it work at all,” Elrich said. “We may have to consider that you can’t work if you’re not willing to keep not just yourself safe but particularly your coworkers and county residents who might have to access services safe.”
While saying some workers are in departments that “you can pretty easily fill the spaces” if they’re fired for not getting the vaccine, there are others that are not so simple.
“In some of these departments — particularly ones that require long periods of training — it’s a major effort to recruit people now for police and fire,” says Elrich. “You could wind up short-staffing your departments for long periods of time and we have to weigh what the impacts will be.”
Elrich said he’s still waiting for more information before making a final recommendation.
“We’re hoping that we get the updated data from the unions over the next week or so, then we’ll map out where we’re going to go on the testing,” Elrich said.
Bethesda Beat obtained a joint statement from three unions representing thousands of workers include police offices and firefighters, inferring that a tougher vaccine policy would “draw an unnecessary line in the sand” that could lead to “counterproductive conflict.”
Listen to County Executive Marc Elrich’s conversation with WTOP’s Ken Duffy here:
- Sign up for WTOP alerts
- Latest coronavirus test results in DC, Maryland and Virginia
- Latest vaccination numbers in DC, Maryland and Virginia