Montgomery Co. health officials turn attention toward vaccinating young children

Montgomery County, Maryland, is working to make sure it has enough COVID-19 vaccines for children who are eligible, and it is also making progress when it comes to how many kids have already received the shot.

During a news briefing Monday, county health official Sean O’Donnell said so far, almost 7,870 kids have been vaccinated, and they’ve requested an additional 20,000 doses for kids. The county is expecting to get more vaccines Wednesday, depending on what the state approves.

“We have not gotten as much as we have asked, so we’re continuing to ask for it and roll it out as quickly as it comes in,” O’Donnell told the council.

Right now, there are 17 sites open with more opening later this week. He said the county is also working to get more vaccines to minority communities through local organizations.

“We do plan to do additional sites throughout the week and additional sites with our public school partners, as well as Holy Cross Health,” O’Donnell said.

COVID-19 cases across the county have remained steady. The latest numbers show Montgomery County at around a 50 case rate per 100,000 residents, which is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers a moderate transmission rate.

“Those rates are staying pretty steady over the last week or so,” O’Donnell said, but health officials anticipate testing demand will increase as the holiday season approaches and more people prepare to travel. The county is now looking at options to reduce long wait times.

Separately, the council also discussed several bills that are under consideration. One of them, Bill 18-21, will push to improve transparency within the police department. It will require the department to issue body cameras for all officers and require internal, random reviews of recordings.

An incident involving body camera footage showing police handcuffing and berating a 5-year-old child last year after he wandered away from Silver Spring Elementary School is what sparked the need for the bill, lawmakers say.

“Many of us were here when we invested in putting body-worn cameras on all our police officers, and we did not do that so footage could stay in the basement,” Council President Tom Hucker.

The bill will go through the final step Monday before being approved.

The council is also looking to build upon its support of early care and education through the expansion of the Children Opportunity Fund Initiative.

Council member Nancy Navarro said this new proposed bill will focus on creating a private-public partnership with accountability to taxpayers and more space for input from other organizations.

“This is something that we’ve been working on for a long time. There are so many other ways that we can leverage county dollars as we’re trying to recover from COVID-19. Availability of quality and affordable child care are key,” Navarro said.

The council will also look at plans to redraw districts, which would expand the council from 9 to 11 seats. Voters chose to increase council districts from five to seven, which would expand the council from nine to 11 seats.

There will be two public hearings on the newly proposed map on Nov. 16 at 1:30 p.m. and Nov. 18 at 7 p.m.

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.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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