Last month’s shooting death of a 13-year-old in Capitol Heights, Maryland, was allegedly committed by another child, who is 12 years old.
And during a news briefing on Tuesday, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said the death of King Douglas is a reflection not only of the pandemic’s toll on young minds, but also of the adults in the community.
“What they mirror is what we give them,” said Alsobrooks, who pointed to an uptick in juvenile-involved carjackings and homicides over the last year.
So the county, she said, is stepping up its efforts to keep Prince George’s youth active and engaged in positive activities this summer. While sports are involved, so are activities ranging from performing arts and visual arts to computer skills.
“We want to make sure that our youth are learning and doing while achieving a sense of belonging,” Alsobrooks said.
One move that will likely help is the return of basketball hoops to county backboards by the end of the week. Those rims had been removed to discourage social gatherings as the pandemic worsened in the county.
Also during Tuesday’s briefing, Alsobrooks detailed how the county is targeting some of its more-vulnerable areas to ensure residents get vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We’re putting these outreach efforts into overdrive to help spread the word,” she said. “The end of the pandemic is in sight, but only if we get enough of our residents vaccinated.”
The county’s vaccination equity team helped single out several communities for this vaccination outreach: Bladensburg, Temple Hills, Capitol Heights, Hyattsville, Oxon Hill, College Park, District Heights, Riverdale, Suitland, Langley Park and Mount Rainier.
Workers, Alsobrooks said, will knock on more than 266,000 doors, make more than 1.3 million phone calls and send out more than a half-million text messages to get the word out.
“Some of the most vulnerable populations we serve are also the most susceptible to misinformation about the vaccine,” she said.
Dr. George Askew, the county’s deputy chief administrative officer for health, human services and education, said the county’s COVID metrics continue to improve, with the test-positivity rate just above 4% and new weekly cases below 1,000.
“Our hospital capacity is still in great shape,” Askew added.
That includes residents 16 and 17 years old, who will need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian who can sign a consent form.
Askew said that the county is extending hours at three vaccination sites this weekend. The Sports & Learning Complex in Landover, the Laurel-Beltsville Senior Activity Center in Laurel, and the Southern Regional Technology & Recreation Complex in Fort Washington will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, The Sports & Learning Complex vaccination site will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s never been easier to get it done,” Askew said.
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