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Online database shows 3 Montgomery County Council employees are unvaccinated against COVID

WJLA – Washington D.C. logo WJLA – Washington D.C. 1/15/2022 Kevin Lewis, Montgomery County Reporter
© Provided by WJLA – Washington D.C.

Three Montgomery County Council employees are unvaccinated against COVID-19, the county's online employee vaccination database shows.

Those three employees, whose identities are unknown, account for 3.49% of the council's 86 positions. It is unclear if the three employees have medical or religious objections to getting the COVID jab.

From the onset of the vaccine rollout in late 2020, the nine-member council has been an ardent supporter of inoculations. They fought relentlessly for a mass vaccination site in Germantown, have proudly touted the county's vaccination rate, among the best in the nation, and more recently attempted to pass an employee vaccination mandate.

Earlier this week, Councilmember Craig Rice (D-District 2) broke down during a virtual hearing while describing his mother's heart attack last Saturday. An ambulance took Rice's mom, 79, to Holy Cross Germantown Hospital.

“There were so many things that they were trying to do to handle the critically ill, like my mother, in addition to those unvaccinated majority who had COVID," Rice told his fellow councilmembers. "So, I have a personal plea. To all those who are unvaccinated, who think, 'I can handle this on my own.' The reality is, think about someone else besides just yourself."

In a written statement to 7News, Montgomery County Council President Gabe Albornoz (D-At Large) said with a 96.5 percent vaccination rate, the council is one of the top-three county departments for vaccine compliance.

"We have encouraged, and continue to urge every employee working for the Council, and across Montgomery County government, to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their family members, and our community," Albornoz wrote.

A spokeswoman for the council directed questions pertaining to specific council positions and vaccination statuses to Montgomery County’s Office of Human Resources.

On Tuesday, Jan. 18, the council will hold a public hearing and work session on a vaccine passport resolution. If approved, patrons would be required to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 before entering any restaurant, bar, and fitness center in Montgomery County, among other establishments.

The vaccine passport would apply to everyone, ages five and older, come March 1. It would not apply to people entering a facility for a "quick and limited purpose." The resolution's language also carves out an exemption for those entitled to medical or religious accommodations.

UNVACCINATED COUNTY EMPLOYEES, BY SELECT DEPARTMENTS

  • Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation — 61 unvaccinated employees (12.5%) and 96 non-reporting employees (19.7%)
  • Fire & Rescue Service — 93 unvaccinated employees (6.71%) and 223 non-reporting employees (16.1%)
  • Department of Transportation — 140 unvaccinated employees (11.44%) and 38 non-reporting employees (3.1%)
  • Police Department — 94 unvaccinated employees (5.12%) and 165 non-reporting employees (9%)
  • Alcohol Beverage Services — 37 unvaccinated employees (8.73%) and 15 non-reporting employees (3.5%)
  • Department of Health and Human Services — 77 unvaccinated employees (4.39%) and 77 non-reporting employees (4.39%)
  • County Council — three unvaccinated employees (3.49%) and zero non-reporting employees

Omicron's impact on county government staffing has been particularly noticeable. Sources tell 7News there have been multiple COVID outbreaks at the county's two jails, in Rockville and Clarksburg, since March 2020.

This week, Alcohol Beverage Services reduced store hours at all 26 of its locations due to staff shortages.

“ABS remains committed to excellent customer service, and we look forward to returning to regular hours once this current wave has passed," ABS Director Kathie Durbin said in a statement. 

On Sunday, Jan. 16, Ride On will reduce bus service by nine percent because so many of its drivers have COVID. The county says it will revisit service levels in six to eight weeks or sooner if staffing rebounds quicker than expected.

"With these changes, we will be operating at about 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels," said MCDOT Chief of Transit Dan Hibbert. "We just don’t have the drivers available to maintain our current schedule and be dependable."

In late December, MCFRS had to make a variety of logistical maneuvers after 110 career and 23 volunteer members were unable to show up to work due to COVID.

MCFRS redeployed staff from the aerial tower in Clarksburg and the rescue squad in Laytonsville as both units have “a lower number of calls for service compared to the rest of the county," officials noted in a press release. MCFRS additionally asked volunteer companies to staff more personnel during peak hours.

“Let me be clear, MCFRS will maintain Advanced Life Support care delivery and the ability to deliver water to burning surfaces to stop the spread of fires," Fire Chief Scott Goldstein said at the time. "However, we do need our residents and visitors to be aware of the challenges we are facing, and we appreciate their patience, cooperation, and support during these difficult times.”

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