Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich Wednesday attributed his county’s best in the state COVID-19 vaccination metrics to consistent scientific-based messaging about the dangers posed by the virus.
About 75% of Montgomery County residents are fully vaccinated, according to the CDC, and about 83% of the county’s residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine.
Among Montgomery County’s vaccine-eligible population, more than 90% have been fully inoculated.
Howard County is a close second, with about 73% of the population fully vaccinated.
Garrett and Somerset counties have the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residents in the state-respectively 37% for both jurisdictions, according to the Maryland Department of Health (MDH).
Statewide, about 58% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to MDH, and about 83% of the population has received at least one dose of the vaccine.
“We have consistently put out a health-based message,” Elrich said in response to a question from MarylandReporter.com at a virtual news conference. “I think we delivered a pretty consistent message to the public. And I think we made it pretty clear that we were not playing any political games.”
Elrich, a Democrat and vaccine passport proponent, added: “You did not see us waffling and making different decisions based on public pressure-which can confuse people and show you are not serious…This story did not change from the beginning to now. It has been the problem that it is. It is transmitted by people. It does not float around for any length of time. And it does not have a human host.”
Elrich credited his weekly news briefings for helping people to better understand why he made certain decisions.
“We just did not say to people: ‘Here is an order.’ We tried to frame it in a scientific setting so that people understood what the reasoning was behind the orders…People are getting a consistent message.”
At Wednesday’s news conference, Elrich stressed that although the county’s vaccination metrics are the best in the state, the county is still under the CDC designation of “substantial risk” of transmission due to its 2.34% positivity rate.
Elrich said the best way to bring the county’s positivity rate down is for everyone to get vaccinated.
“All of the evidence says vaccines work. You need to get your shot. And before you cite the cases of vaccinated people who get COVID-let me remind you that they get sick at a much lower rate and they are far less likely to get a significant case and far less likely to die. So, if I was weighing the relative merits of these two things, I think I would opt for less likely to get sick and less likely to die.”
Dr. James Bridgers Jr., who is the county’s acting health officer, said progress is being made on the administration of booster shots to the county’s immunocompromised residents.
“We have the second-highest number of individuals who are homebound who have been vaccinated at 733 persons and we still continue to administer those shots.”
Bridgers said the county’s COVID-19 hospitalization rate is “trending downward,” especially when compared with that of other jurisdictions in the state, such as those in western and southern Maryland.
Bridgers said the county has had 3,543 positive cases over the past month, and that most of those cases have been among unvaccinated residents.
“We know that most of the unvaccinated cases have been among those who are 18 and under.”
The majority of those hospitalized throughout the state are unvaccinated and the majority of those who have died since the vaccine has been available were unvaccinated.
Currently, there are 12 children in Maryland who have been hospitalized due to the virus, according to data the Maryland Department of Health provided to MarylandReporter.com.