You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bowser pushes Trump administration to send more coronavirus vaccine doses for health-care workers

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 12/3/2020 Antonio Olivo, Fenit Nirappil, Ovetta Wiggins
Muriel Bowser wearing a suit and tie in front of a curtain: Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham at a news conference earlier in the pandemic. © Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post Mayor Muriel E. Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham at a news conference earlier in the pandemic.

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser escalated efforts Thursday to obtain more coronavirus vaccine doses for city health-care workers, arguing that the Trump administration’s planned rollout of doses for a first cohort of high-priority recipients is unfairly based on where people live instead of where they work.

With case numbers rising in the nation’s capital, Bowser (D) sent a letter Thursday to officials overseeing the federal Operation Warp Speed vaccination plan, saying the city would be able to inoculate less than a tenth of its 85,000 health-care workers with the 6,800 doses it expects to receive under the current distribution formula.

By comparison, Maryland expects 300,000 vaccine doses by January, enough to cover about half of its population of health-care workers, officials there said Thursday. Virginia expects about 140,000 doses for its first cohort of recipients, a group that comprises about 500,000 health-care workers and residents of long-term-care facilities.

The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines, which are closest to receiving federal approval, both require two doses per patient within a short period.

Bowser, whose administration has been pushing for more vaccine doses for several weeks, said during a news conference Thursday that about 75 percent of the city’s health-care workers live in Maryland or Virginia.

“We allow Maryland and Virginia residents to use our testing sites because we know they work here and their being able to isolate if they have an infection makes us safer,” she said. “We think a vaccination strategy along those lines makes us safer.”

[Officials outline plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution in Washington region]

Vaccine distribution plans in the D.C. region are taking shape as coronavirus case numbers have continued to surge and local health officials urge residents to be on guard against infection.

Until a vaccine is readily available to the broader public, most likely in the spring, residents should continue to take precautions against infection, such as wearing masks, maintaining physical distance from others and avoiding large crowds, officials said.

“There is light, certainly, at the end of the tunnel, but we all need to get there together,” Bowser said.

The greater D.C. region’s seven-day average number of new daily infections Thursday dipped slightly while reaching a total of 472,066 since the start of the pandemic. Hospitalizations and coronavirus-related deaths — lagging indicators of the severity of the most recent surge — continued to climb.

The District’s caseload has been steadily climbing, reaching a record-high seven-day average Thursday of 204 daily cases. The recent average number of hospitalizations in the nation’s capital climbed to 159, its highest mark since late June, while D.C. recorded two new deaths Thursday. The city’s coronavirus test positivity rate has steadily risen in recent weeks to 5.9 percent, which health officials say indicates a moderate level of community spread.

[Coronavirus cases and metrics in D.C., Maryland and Virginia]

City officials say it is too early to link new cases to Thanksgiving travel and festivities, activities that they said would not be apparent in data until late next week.

Bowser’s office has not said whether the city recorded a cluster of virus cases linked to a pro-Trump rally nearly three weeks ago; hundreds of maskless people attended the event. City officials said they do not release details on case clusters even though health officials have done so previously, including on coronavirus outbreaks at the White House and an outbreak at Christ Church Georgetown that was linked to the city’s first known cases.

D.C. Health Director LaQuandra Nesbitt said Thursday that cluster data related to the pro-Trump rally will be “published in the appropriate context” where it cannot be misconstrued.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson called Thursday for those details to be released sooner, arguing that there is value to the public in discussing the origin of cases.

“In situations like a pandemic, withholding information can backfire,” Mendelson (D-At Large) said in an interview. “There’s value to looking at the data, if it’s available, because it reinforces that we need to be more careful.”

In Virginia, the seven-day average number of new daily cases has steadily fallen in recent days — dropping to 2,229 Thursday — after reaching a high of 2,592 last weekend.

The weekly average for hospitalizations in the state rose to a high of 1,704 — a problem most acutely felt in Southwest Virginia, where the Ballad Health hospital system has suspended elective surgeries to better handle a continuing influx of covid-19 patients in that region. Virginia recorded 34 virus-related deaths Thursday.

In Arlington County, the sheriff’s office reported that an inmate at the detention center had tested positive for the coronavirus. The inmate is the first among those incarcerated at the county jail to contract the virus, according to the sheriff’s office, which has informed public health officials of the case and begun contact tracing. The individual is reportedly doing well.

[Rural Virginia county passes resolution rejecting ‘tyranny’ of Northam’s coronavirus restrictions]

Gov. Ralph Northam (D), who recently reinstated some restrictions in the state, urged residents Wednesday to “be more careful than you think you need to be” during the holiday season.

In Maryland, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) also has recently tightened restrictions and, more recently, moved to increase hospital capacity in the state amid a recent resurgence of cases.

The seven-day average number of new infections dropped Thursday in Maryland for a third consecutive day, improving to 2,131. But the state’s weekly average for current hospitalizations was at its highest level since May, at 1,514. Meanwhile, 49 additional deaths were recorded Thursday in Maryland, the most in a single day in the state since the spring.

“We’ve still got some pain to go through before we get this under control,” Hogan said Thursday on ABC News’s “Good Morning America.”

Hogan, who recently has faced criticism over Maryland’s handling of a shipment of coronavirus test kits the state bought from South Korea, appeared optimistic Thursday about the quantity of vaccine doses his state expects to receive for high-priority populations.

The half of the 300,000 doses that will arrive by January should be in the state soon, officials said.

“Our plan we submitted to the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] prioritizes the most vulnerable — so our front-line health-care workers, our nursing homes, then first responders,” Hogan said. “And as they come in, we’ll just start working our way down the pyramid.”

In neighboring Delaware, Gov. John Carney (D) announced a stay-at-home advisory Thursday that “strongly urges” residents to avoid gathering indoors with anyone outside their household from Dec. 14 through Jan. 11. The advisory does not apply to the state’s residents in their workplaces or when they are traveling to jobs.

Laura Vozzella and Julie Zauzmer contributed to this report.

Read more: Hackers try to penetrate the vital `cold chain’ for coronavirus vaccines Pompeo invites hundreds to indoor holiday parties after subordinates are warned against hosting `non-mission-critical events’ When will children get a coronavirus vaccine? Not in time for new school year, experts fear
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Washington Post

The Washington Post
The Washington Post
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon