Appropriation to support new “Pandemic Prevention Center”

Today, the Council introduced a $500,000 special appropriation that I authored to fund ConnectedDMV’s work toward creating a new global Pandemic Prevention Center, supported by the federal government and located here in Montgomery County. I describe the County’s role in making this exciting proposal a reality in greater detail below.


MEMORANDUM

TO: Councilmembers & County Executive Elrich
FROM: Councilmember Hans Riemer
DATE: January 6, 2021
RE: Appropriation to support new “Pandemic Prevention Center”


I propose the Council introduce a special appropriation for $500,000 to the organization ConnectedDMV to help develop and advocate for a new global Pandemic Prevention Center here in Montgomery County.

As one of the world’s biggest BioHealth clusters and home to the NIH and FDA, we are a natural choice to host this critical new agency. We have the opportunity — and we should act now to close the deal.

ConnectedDMV is a regional non-profit organization that has convened a broad group of stakeholders from the public and private sectors across the capital region. They have identified a global Pandemic Prevention Center as a key need to keep the turmoil, loss of life, and economic devastation we have suffered at the hands of COVID from ever happening again.

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Vaccination update — pre-register for an appointment

Dear resident:

This week saw a big shift in the state’s vaccination strategy.

On Monday I wrote to you about why we needed to revise the strategy to start administering more doses. I called for the Governor to open up eligibility to age 75+.

Thanks to the Governor’s Thursday announcement, going forward:

  • Residents age 75+ and education sector employees are now eligible (1B).
  • Hospitals, some of which have unused inventory, are now directed to provide doses to 1B eligible residents in the community.
  • Additional retail pharmacies will begin administering doses (though this will be very limited to start).

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Vaccination update

Dear resident,

The prioritization strategy for COVID-19 vaccinations is carefully thought out, from the Federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) guidance, through the State of Maryland down to Montgomery County.

But so far the results are mixed.

This past week the County received 8,600 Moderna doses and administered 6,485 in our County clinics. That leaves 2,115 doses on the shelf, despite the heroic efforts of our Public Health team.

Evidently early stage groups are not showing up at the rate expected; whether because outreach hasn’t been strong enough, people just need time to schedule, or they are hesitant. But the outcome is clear and untenable.

That is why I am urging County officials to open up Group 1B and begin making vaccination doses available to residents over age 75.

This will require coordination with the State Department of Health, so today I am reiterating that call, and asking Governor Hogan to direct his health team to revise the state strategy.

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Montgomery County Vaccination Update

Dear resident,

On Monday I called on the State and County to release more information about who is in tier 1A, 1B and 1C, and tiers 2 and 3.

The County health department responded to my request by sharing draft information with the County Council. You can read more details here. Governor Hogan published more state level information at his press conference yesterday at 5pm (as his communications staff responded to my tweets that they planned to do). Here is more information from the state.

Vaccination Phases
Maryland’s priority populations and phasing for vaccinations

I have asked the County Executive to share more clear public information about the County’s tiers and processes. Here are more details based on what information I have at this time.

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Reopening schools is my priority

Dear resident,

I want you to know that, while I strongly support the decision not to open MCPS this Fall, getting our children back into their classrooms is an urgent priority for me.

Research is showing very troubling signs about learning loss during COVID. We may spend years recovering. Opportunity gaps are intensifying and the most vulnerable children are paying the biggest price.

That’s why I voted against the Executive Branch’s recent decision to allow restaurants to serve alcohol to patrons indoors after 10pm, hours that are generally more for socializing than eating.

While the proposal did have some safeguards, I remain concerned that allowing indoor late night socializing can only result in more COVID cases and make it harder to reopen schools.

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