Fighting vaccine mandates? Here??

Dear Resident,

This week I joined my colleagues Will Jawando and Gabriel Albornoz to introduce legislation mandating that County employees get vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment, unless they qualify for a documented medical exemption.

We need to take this step because the existing vaccination policy for County employees is not getting results. While County Executive Marc Elrich has come out against a mandate, he has also been bargaining for months with the County unions to promote vaccination.

The results speak for themselves.

As of September 30, 77.6% of County employees reported having at least one dose of a vaccine, compared to 98% of eligible County residents. Vaccination rates in some county departments are much lower, with the Department of Corrections and Fire and Rescue Services reporting only 63% of employees having gotten at least one dose.

This is simply unacceptable.

Getting vaccinated is one of our most powerful tools to contain the pandemic. Our employees who are doing the right thing and getting vaccinated deserve to know that their workplaces are safe.

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Reopening, youth vax appts

Dear residents,

Following is some information you may find useful.

1. Youth vaccination appointments available now
Vaccination appointments are available now (as in today) for 12-15 year olds with Pfizer doses. Schedule your appointment here:

Or you may also search through the state website,

2. Montgomery County to fully reopen by May 29
Based on our phased reopening plan, the County will almost certainly enter full opening, aligned with state policies, on May 29.

May 29 is the projected date after which 50% of the County will have achieved full immunity through vaccinations and our new daily cases are at relatively low levels.

Having said that, there is still COVID risk for those who are not vaccinated. Please get vaccinated.

3. County follows CDC guidance on masks
The County now follows CDC guidance for face coverings. People who are not yet vaccinated should continue wearing facial coverings. If you are fully vaccinated please refer to this guidance:

4. Finally, I want to say that there is no question in my mind that in the Fall, MCPS can and must be open full-time, full-capacity. The Board of Education has indicated that their goal is for full reopening as well.

Better days are ahead.

Hans Riemer

CDC's Guide to recommended activities for Vaccinated and Unvaccinated People

Vaccines and reopening

Dear residents,

About a month ago (on March 22nd), I wrote to you about our progress on vaccinations. I projected that by the end of April, at least 470,000 residents would have a first dose. That math has guided my perspective ever since.

A lot of readers appreciated the forward thinking, but I also got some understandable pushback — “we don’t know if that’s true… we don’t know if supply will keep up,” etc.

Today I am pleased to say that we are over 535,000 residents with a first dose.

With about 800,000 residents presently eligible (age 16+), we are more than 60% of the way through first doses for the eligible population; and about 50% of the way through the total population.1

It should be no surprise therefore that even with the more contagious variants circulating, our new cases plateaued weeks ago and are now trending downward. The vaccines work!

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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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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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