Montgomery Co.’s COVID community level ‘high’ as monkeypox cases rise

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Maryland now has 149 documented cases of monkeypox.

But in Montgomery County, the supply of monkeypox vaccine is limited, according to County Executive Marc Elrich.

“We won’t get any more doses until September, and that’s why the Health Department has established a preregistration program for anyone interested in the MPX vaccine,” he said.

(Montgomery County officials often refer to monkeypox as MPX.)

Kimberly Townsend, a senior administrator for the county’s Department of Health and Human Services, explained that currently, vaccinations are available to “known contacts who are identified by public health via case investigation, contact tracing and exposure notifications.”

The preregistration survey website should go live by the end of the week, Townsend said.

And while it doesn’t guarantee an appointment, she said, “it helps us determine what appointments are needed for the highest risk first in planning for the future.”

The other virus: COVID-19

According to Montgomery County’s COVID-19 database, the county is in the “high” range for the coronavirus, though the CDC website indicates the county remains at the “medium” level.

Hospitalizations in the county have been up over the last week, said Sean O’Donnell of the county’s Department of Health and Human Services. That — combined with the fact that there have been over 200 cases per 100,000 residents in the past seven days — has nudged the county into the “high” range.

The county’s assistant administrative officer, Earl Stoddard, warned against assuming that the county is artificially inflating its numbers, explaining that the hospitalization rates include only those in Montgomery County hospitals and its alternate care sites.

“We’re not counting Montgomery County patients who are hospitalized in Howard, the District, Prince George’s County” or other jurisdictions, he said.

Parents ought to think of vaccinating their children against COVID-19 as “something that should be a part of any back-to-school checklist,” Elrich said.

He added that adults should also make sure to stay current with vaccinations and boosters, noting that “only 58% of our residents” have been boosted.

“It’s critical for everyone to be up to date with their boosters,” he said.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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