Gov. Larry Hogan Thursday slammed U.S. Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Md.) for having said that the state is not doing enough to ensure equitable access to coronavirus vaccines to underserved parts of Maryland.
“I would say Anthony Brown is wrong,” Hogan said in response to a question from MarylandReporter.com at an impromptu news conference that was held at Frederick County’s new mass vaccination site, which is located at Frederick Community College in downtown Frederick.
Hogan added: “The Biden administration recognized us for having the first and the best equity effort in the entire country out of all 50 states. Numerous reports have come out. And I think we are in the 3rd in the county in vaccinating African-Americans…Obviously, we are still working hard and I am not going to be satisfied until we get every person done. But Congressman Brown obviously does not know the facts.”
Brown lost the 2014 gubernatorial race to Hogan and has been a frequent critic of Hogan’s handling of the vaccine distribution effort, particularly in regards to servicing minority communities. The congressman reiterated criticism of that effort in a statement to MarylandReporter.com earlier this week.
Brown’s comments were in response to a Bloomberg survey that was released last week. It said that Maryland ranked 3rd among states for vaccinating African-Americans, 9th among states for vaccinating Asian-Americans, and 12th among states for vaccinating Hispanic-Americans.
“Our country is making progress but Black and brown communities remain under-vaccinated with wide gaps in vaccination rates, driven by Governor Hogan’s failures to create an equitable system at the very beginning of this effort,” Brown said.”The disparities in communities of color in infections, deaths, and vaccinations demand additional attention and intentional action to close. Prince George’s County still lags behind the rest of the state for vaccinations. These disparities will mean the difference in our recovery efforts. We can and must do better to target our hardest hit, most vulnerable, and hard to reach populations as we enter a new phase of our vaccination efforts. I believe that our state is up to this challenge. We still have more work ahead of us.”
Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore City) echoed similar sentiments to that of the congressman.
“The data reveals that white Marylanders have received the vaccine at a rate that doubles that of black Marylanders despite black Marylanders having been hit harder by COVID-19.”
Carter said vaccinating the state’s inmates should be a priority for the administration.
“Yesterday, we learned that four more inmates in our prisons have recently died from coronavirus. Failing to vaccine vulnerable inmates, that have no ability to social distance, is not equity, its murder.”
Both Maryland’s overall vaccine distribution effort and its vaccine equity outreach have improved considerably over the past few months. When the state began administering vaccines in February it ranked near the bottom in the nation in terms of distribution. Today Maryland ranks 18 out of 50 among states with regard to distribution, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). And Hogan’s decision to create a Vaccine Equity Task Force has garnered bipartisan praise for making inroads in vaccinating members of minority communities. The task force is headed by Maryland National Guard Lt. Gen. Brigadier Janeen Birckhead.
There are 439,992 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Maryland as of Thursday morning, according to the state’s Department of Health, and 8,439 people in Maryland have died from the virus. The state’s positivity rate is at 5.15%, which is slightly above CDC recommended guidelines for containment. Maryland has conducted more than 9.4 million COVID-19 tests.
Maryland’s health care providers have administered more than 4.1 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine. That includes 2,415,745 (39.958%) first doses and 1,548,388 (25.611%) second doses. More than 1.7 million people in Maryland are fully vaccinated, which is about 28% of the state’s total population.