But vaccines remain in short supply.
Frederick, Md (KM) The COVID-19 health metrics are improving in Frederick County, according to County Executive Jan Gardner. During her public information briefing on Thursday, Gardner said hospitalization for the coronavirus are down. “It is down from 72 being hospitalized at the peak which was just a month ago on January 18th. So that’s about a 50% decline or better in hospitalizations,” she says.
Gardner also said the county’s positivity rate is 4.3%, which is down is 4.8% last week. The statewide average is 3.7%.
But the vaccine shipments from the state have declined. “Between the Health Department and the hospital, we were getting about 3,000 doses a week. We dropped last week to 1,400 doses. The hospital did get 600 doses this week, a slight increase. And so we’re a little bit better than that. But we still have an overall decrease in the number of doses coming in to Frederick County,” Gardner says.
The Health Department says to date, Frederick County has received 16,250 COVID-19 vaccine doses.. This week, due the weather last week, the county has received 2,600 doses of the vaccine. That is 1,300 doses from last week, and 1,300 doses this week.
“Demand, unfortunately, far exceeds our supply,” says Health Officer Dr. Barbara Brookmyer. “I’m hopeful with the new vaccines coming on board and with what’s been in the news recently about the existing two vaccines, the Pfizer and the Moderna, that they anticipate to increase their production in the near future, I’m hopeful that balance will change,” she said.
County Executive Gardner says and other local officials will continue pressing the state for additional vaccines.
She also hopes that the new vaccine developed by Johnson and Johnson will make a big difference. “That’s a one-dose vaccine, and a vaccine that can be more easily handled. So that will make it easier to do people faster because they won’t have to have two doses. And it is possible that this can eventually get to our primary care physicians which will then speed up the distribution effort,” she says.
The Johnson and Johnson vaccine is expected to get federal approval soon.
Despite the increased production and a new vaccine, Gardner says it will take a while to vaccine everyone in the county. “We know that it will take us months to vaccinate everyone,” she says. “There is great concern right about the new coronavirus variants out there which some believe to be more contagious.”
As of Thursday afternoon, the Health Department says 33,831 people in Frederick County have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and 19,205 have been administered the second dose.
At this time, the vaccine is only available from the Health Department to front line medical professionals, residents and employees in long term care facilities, first responders, and those 75 and older. But the county is administering the vaccine to individuals between 65 and 74. In that age group, only those born in 1947 and before will receive the vaccine.
By Kevin McManus