To date in Howard County, we have 14,572 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and lost 209 of our neighbors from this virus. We’re keeping these families in our hearts. It’s vital that we continue the practices that we all know at this point – wear a mask around people not in your household, avoid gatherings of large groups, keep your distance, and wash your hands. Let’s StayCOVIDSafe HoCo.

As of 9:00 a.m. today and according to the Maryland Department of Health, our 7-day average positivity rate is at 5.5% and our 7-day average case rate per 100,000 of our population is at 23.8. We’ve seen both these metrics decline since earlier this month and are holding steady at this point. Both our positivity and case rates are below the State averages and our rates are within the lower third of all jurisdictions.

The Howard County Health Department is continuing with Phase 1A of our vaccine distribution plan, which includes approximately 15,000 healthcare providers and first responders. The Health Department has also begun vaccinating people in Phase 1B, a group of about 55,000 people, including educators and staff in Priority Groups 1and 2, as prioritized by HCPSS, private school educators and staff and childcare providers. This week, the new vaccination clinic at Howard Community College opened and administered 3,337 vaccines. All vaccinations at this point are by appointment only. Second dose administration is also continuing this week at the Health Department. Howard County General Hospital and select pharmacies in the county continue to also vaccinate congregate living facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living facilities, health care workers, and the elderly.

Please note due to snow, the vaccination clinic for Monday, February 1 has been rescheduled for Tuesday, February 2. Everyone with appointments will be contacted directly by the Health Department with details. Additionally, the Savage and Elkridge Fire Department testing sites will be closed tomorrow, February 1st.

While there are more than 95,000 residents who are currently eligible to receive a vaccine, Howard County Health Department has only received a total of 15,025 vaccines since the first 100 doses that we received December 23rd and administered 100%. Although we have the infrastructure to administer upwards of 20,000 doses a week, this week Howard County will receive 2,000 doses from the State, which is 56% less than received last week. However, while the Health Department is receiving less vaccine, the State has identified more pharmacies in the county. These vaccine appointments are controlled by the Maryland Department of Health and should be scheduled directly at marylandvax.org. Please check on that site for eligibility criteria. As we receive dosages from the State, we are working hard to ensure it gets to our residents. We ask for your patience and understanding in recognizing how great of a demand we have compared to our very limited supply. The County depends on the Federal and State governments to determine how many vaccines are allocated.

As we’ve stated before – not everyone will get appointments immediately until we have enough vaccine, and we do not have enough vaccine. Please visit vaccine.howardcountymd.gov for additional information or to pre-register. You may also call the Health Department at 410-313-6284 if you need assistance pre-registering. Please be mindful, call volumes are extremely high due to the high demand and wait times may be longer than usual.

Pre-registration is now available for all residents in Phase 1B through the Health Department, with the exception of Howard County Public School System employees who are contacted by the school system when appointments are available. Pre-registration allows the Health Department to collect contact information from residents. Once you have completed the pre-registration you will be contacted to schedule an appointment when there is vaccine supply available. Anyone who attempts to go to a clinic without a valid appointment will be turned away.

Residents who are 65-74 in Phase 1C may also pre-register at this time. Additional surveys are being developed for other Phase 1C populations and will be available soon. While some parts of the State have moved on to Phase 1C, Howard County Health Department is still prioritizing Phase 1A and Phase 1B based on supply received. Howard County expects increased supply soon and will communicate available appointments as soon as is possible.

While we are hopeful that production will increase over the next few weeks and months, we are still in a position where demand will continue to exceed supply for the foreseeable future. We know how many people are relying on a vaccine to do their jobs as safely as possible, to return to normal life, to see their family and friends, and to be less isolated. We’re doing everything we can to make this process go faster.

###

Scott E