Doing the math on vaccination doses

Dear resident,

The pandemic’s peak is in our rear view mirror, but like a beast in a horror movie it is also chasing us. We have to keep our foot on the gas. That means continuing to mask and social distance while getting vaccinated.

If you are wondering when you’ll likely get a dose — or how far we are from having a high share of the County vaccinated — you might find the following information helpful.

Here’s the bottom line: By summer we could finally be ready to roll credits on this terrible movie. This is how the math works.

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Purple Line — why this matters so much

Dear resident:

The recipe for our future success as a community is not only progressive policy making but also having a strong economic foundation that provides higher paying jobs for our residents and tax revenues to support public services.

As a region with many companies that are turning scientific breakthroughs into commerce, our County government should recognize that strength and do everything possible to build on it.

One key initiative that I have been focusing on a lot: better connecting our economy to UMD and College Park.

UMD is one of the largest higher ed computer science institutions in the US. Although it is in a neighboring County, it is still one of Montgomery County’s key power centers to generate economic progress.

To build on UMD’s potential, we need a high quality Purple Line. The Purple Line runs right through campus with multiple stops there and then continues to downtown Silver Spring and Bethesda while connecting to the Red Line Corridors.

Degrading the Purple Line — as the County Executive is now proposing to do by “single tracking” trains into Bethesda and foreclosing future improvements in the frequency of trains — will really limit our County’s economic potential.

Consider this exceptionally pertinent example.

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Doses for Montgomery County

Dear resident:

I hope you can enjoy the weather this week. I take it as a sign of better days ahead — I truly believe we are about to cross over to a much better place in this pandemic. Nearly 200,000 residents have received a first dose!

That said, there are a lot of tough issues that we must continue working to resolve. And we must stay vigilant about facial coverings and distancing.

We need more doses — or we need a “MD Mass Vax Site”
In the early stages of the roll-out, there were fewer doses per person available in Montgomery County than in some other parts of the state. The County seemed to catch up more recently, but now I am concerned that the state is allocating new doses to “mass vaccination sites” rather than County sites.

The obvious problem is there is no mass vaccination site in Montgomery County, despite being the biggest county in the state! As a result, a lot of state doses are only available to people who are able to drive to Six Flags or Baltimore or other distant locations.

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Don’t bottleneck the Purple Line

Dear Resident:

The Purple Line will be an economic development engine for Montgomery County.

Connecting Maryland’s biggest university, UMD, with Montgomery County’s downtowns and Metro corridors, it is the kind of infrastructure change that will foster smart growth and prosperity.

I got my start in the County pushing for the Purple Line — in fact I pledged 15 years ago to “Build the Purple Line or Die Trying.”

So you’ll understand that I am concerned that the County Executive has renewed his 2009 proposal to weaken the Purple Line.

Specifically, Mr. Elrich has proposed that rather than having a two way tunnel with tracks in each direction, we’ll have a one way train tunnel into downtown Bethesda. Trains would have to wait on either end for the tunnel to clear before entering.

In other words, we would build a bottleneck into Bethesda.

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Why I voted “no”

When I introduced the “farm + solar” zoning change with Council President Tom Hucker back in January 2020, my goal was to build a cornerstone of Montgomery County’s climate action policy.

By allowing less than 2% of the land in the County zoned “Agricultural Reserve” (which is itself one-third of all land in the County) to be used for privately funded community solar projects, the proposal would have generated enough clean energy to power more than 50,000 homes, while continuing agricultural practices on that land.

Regrettably, with opposition fueled by the County Executive, a majority of Councilmembers adopted two amendments to ZTA 20-01 that are so restrictive that the proposal may result in very little if any solar.

As a result, I voted “no,” because I am concerned that rather than a small step forward for Montgomery County, it may be a large step backward for Maryland. Consider these words from Chesapeake Climate Action Network, which along with the Sierra Club and Poolesville Green strongly supported the original plan:

Clean energy has to go somewhere. If liberal Montgomery County can’t reach a sensible compromise policy, imagine the push back from Republican county and state elected leaders who think climate change is a hoax anyway.

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