U.S. Rep. and former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) Monday slammed Gov. Larry Hogan’s administration’s stewardship of coronavirus vaccine distribution, saying the state has a “broken system.”
“I think that the state has a broken system. I don’t think that the state is well coordinated. I don’t think that there has been statewide planning… If you look at Maryland on a bell curve we rank 45th among all states. That was as of last week. Maybe we inched up a little bit. But that means that there are 44 states who have the same challenges that Maryland does…yet Maryland ranks 45th,” Brown told MarylandReporter.com.
Brown, who lost the 2014 gubernatorial election to Hogan, added: “So on that alone, Maryland can’t get better than a ‘D.’ It just can’t. If we are giving the 45th ranked a person a ‘B,’ then I’m not sure if that’s a credible report card.”
Brown said he believes the distribution process could be improved if the state created a centralized portal for data sharing.
“I think the governor has to create a single online portal for registering for the vaccine. Keep in mind that online registration cannot be the only avenue because there are still many Marylanders who do not have access to the internet or who are not comfortable with the use of the internet…What I would call on Gov. Hogan is to create a central internet portal where you can take in the information and take in enough data so that you know who your applicant pool is. You know where your doses are because you are coordinating that. And you can better match-up where we need to send the people who are registering.”
Brown called on the administration to launch a public awareness campaign featuring both local celebrities and local clergy members to help instill confidence in the vaccine in communities of color, most notably Baltimore City and Prince George’s County. Both jurisdictions have seen lower vaccination rates than the state at-large.
“Whether it’s a pastor or a rabbi, or whomever. They need to see the community leaders who are widely recognized throughout the county getting the vaccination. That’s what they need…Whether it’s TV or social media platforms, you have to do the outreach and you have to do put money behind it.”
However, Hogan’s communications director, Michael Ricci, noted that the state already has a “campaign with local celebrities and influencers to promote the vaccine.”
Ricci dismissed Brown’s ‘D’ grade of the administration’s vaccine rollout plan.
“If that is the grade he gives for doing 22,000 shots a day, then it is clear that Anthony Brown is still rooting for failure.”
Ricci provided MarylandReporter.com with a letter Hogan sent to the 9 Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation on Monday. The letter was in response to correspondence the lawmakers had sent on Feb. 2 in which they expressed concern about the progress of the state’s vaccine rollout plan.
Hogan blasted the lawmakers in the reply letter, insisting that he had previously addressed their concerns.
“To mitigate any further confusion I humbly suggest you direct your staff to spend more time reading these informative and regularly distributed materials and briefing you on their contents as opposed to writing press releases disguised as letters. Our team needs to devote their time to getting shots in Marylanders’ arms. Maryland families simply don’t have time to play Washington politics.”
Maryland’s health care providers have administered 699,733 COVID-19 vaccines as of Monday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health. That means that 84.3% of all of the first doses received from the federal government have been administered.
Maryland is currently in Phase 1C of the vaccination process, which prioritizes residents ages 65-74, some essential workers, and those with certain immunocompromised conditions such as cancer and diabetes.
Hogan toured vaccination sites in Baltimore County and Baltimore City on Monday morning while Brown toured the vaccination site at Six Flags amusement park in Prince George’s County.