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Hogan announces sweeping changes to state vaccination plan

Gov. Larry Hogan held a press conference on Tuesday announcing sweeping changes to Maryland’s COVID-19 distribution plan.

As of Jan. 5, the state had administered first-dose vaccines to 1.27 percent of the population, or 76,916 doses. The governor spoke to the state with a sense of urgency, saying that distributing and administering doses of the vaccine this year is “without question the greatest peacetime undertaking in American history.”

“While the initial distribution of vaccines does offer a glimmer of hope, we still have a long way to go in this fight,” Hogan said. “Distributing and administering vaccines throughout 2021 ... will be a massive, all-hands-on-deck, ongoing operation between the federal, state, and local governments and the private sector. I want to assure the people of Maryland that we are going to leverage every resource to get more shots into more arms as quickly as we possibly can, in a safe and orderly way.”

One of the sweeping actions Hogan announced is a statewide effort to accelerate distribution, and will include involvement from the Maryland National Guard. The MNG began on Wednesday dispatching emergency support teams to assist local health departments with their vaccination clinics. These emergency support teams will also provide logistical support and assist with administering vaccines, Hogan said.

Also helping with administration are 700 volunteers identified by the Maryland Department of Health. Hogan signed an executive order this week requiring all providers in the state to report data to state health officials within 24 hours after administering vaccines. Reporting lags make it difficult for these officials to have a clear picture of overall vaccine administration in the state.

The governor has also placed an incentive for providers to maintain an above-average pace, requiring them to maintain a 75 percent rate or have their number of future doses reduced. In addition, the state is adopting a “Southwest” model, named after the domestic airline company, meaning the state will move on to the next group before finishing administering doses to a current group.

Hogan said Maryland is currently progressing through Phase 1A, which has been expanded to include all licensed, registered, and certified healthcare providers. Phase 1B has also been expanded, he said, to now include all Marylanders age 75 and older, special needs group homes, high-risk inmates, developmentally disabled populations, continuity of government vaccinations, as well as teachers, child care, and education staff. The state plans to enter Phase 1B by late January, he said.

The new Phase 1C now includes all Marylanders ages 65-74, and workers in other critical sectors, including grocery stores, public transit, agriculture production, and manufacturing. Phase 1C includes an estimated 772,000 Marylanders. Based on the current pace of allocation, the state expects to fully enter Phase 1C by early March, Hogan said.

Hogan said Phase 2 has been updated and will now include Marylanders ages 16-64 who are at increased risk of COVID-19 illness due to comorbidities, as well as essential workers in critical utilities and other sectors.

The number of state residents in these four phases is estimated to be at or around 3.23 million.

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One man killed, another injured in shooting at Kings Mill Apartments
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ESSEX — One man was killed and another injured in a shooting outside Kings Mill Apartments and Townhomes Monday afternoon, an incident currently under investigation by Baltimore County Police.

Officers responded at 1:25 p.m. and found the two victims with gunshot wounds on the sidewalk of the 900 block of Ashbridge Drive. Both were transported to an area hospital, according to the police report, where one of the victims, Kenneth Andre Chamberlain, later died.

Chamberlain, 25, had just left one of the apartment buildings in the neighborhood with the second victim when he sustained at least one gunshot wound to the upper body.

The second victim, a 26-year-old man, also suffered at least one gunshot wound to the upper body. His condition is uncertain, and police have not released his name.

A suspect has yet to be identified.

Officer Jen Peach, a Baltimore County Police Department spokesperson, indicated that police don’t believe the shooter to be a threat to the general public. She told local media Monday that the shooting appears to have been targeted.

Officers were still on the scene as the cloudy afternoon darkened into evening, and detectives from the Baltimore County Police Homicide Unit assumed the investigation.

Police ask that anyone who may have seen anyone or anything out of the ordinary in the area at the time of the shooting call (410) 307-2020 with information. Callers may remain anonymous.

Metro Crime Stoppers of Maryland, an organization separate from the Baltimore County Police Department and Baltimore County Government, offers rewards of up to $2,000 for information that leads to arrest and charges in connection with felony cases. They receive tips by phone at 1-866-7LOCKUP, online at www.metrocrimestoppers.org or through mobile app P3 Tips.

This is a developing story, and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Planned re-opening of county schools hinges on health metrics

Baltimore County Public Schools recently updated the school board on the status of the school reopening plan.

That status being: it’s still out of our hands.

“Our priority is the health and safety of our students and staff,” School Superintendent Dr. Darryl Williams told the school board on Dec. 22. “We want to bring students back, but we need to continue to have the health and safety of our students and staff guide the decision-making process.”

Meaning Baltimore County will proceed with its reopening plan when the pandemic lets it.

“We will continue to monitor specific data from Baltimore County, “Dr. Williams said. “When it is safe to do so, we will proceed to to bring back small groups of students

“We know we have families which are anxious to have students return, and we have families nervous about students returning.”

With the second semester approaching in February, Dr. Williams said it was impossible to predict when the health metrics would allow the re-opening plan to proceed.

“We are unable to provide a specific date as to when we will make a decision as whether we can re-open schools,” he said. “It depends on the health metrics.”

The re-opening plan has already been delayed once, when the decision to open the four public separate day schools on Nov. 16 was postponed indefinitely.

The next step is to bring back all students in preschool through the second grade, followed by Outside general education students in grades 3-12 and select CTE students, and then all remaining students in grades 3-12 in the fourth phase.

The re-opening plan still will use a system of three cohorts.

Cohort C is for students whose parents prefer to stay with virtual learning. Cohorts A and B will bring students back to in-person instruction on a rotating basis.

Students will be cohorted by home addresses, so siblings will attend the schedule on the same day.

The cohorts will then be analyzed for any potential issues that would impact established mitigation strategies and balanced as needed.

Cohort A would have in-person instruction on Mondays and Tuesdays, and virtual learning on Thursdays and Fridays.

Cohort B would have virtual learning on Mondays and Tuesdays, and in-person instruction on Thursdays and Fridays.

All students will work from home on Wednesday.

“We know some students need to have face-to-face learning,” Dr. Williams said. “Students with unique program needs require alternatives to virtual learning. Students are missing interaction with classmates and teachers.”

Dr. Williams also told the Board he has requested priority be given to teachers and educators for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The first round of vaccines will go to hospitals, of course, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, health care workers, emergency personnel,” he said. “It’s my hope, and I have advocated, for educators to be high on that list.

“The request has been made. We’re waiting for an answer.”

The collection of live Christmas trees for recycling in Baltimore County will take place over a two-week period, beginning Monday, January 11.


After misses the fall, CCBC soccer is scheduled to play its season in late spring — after the spring season.