- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2020

It’s not easy being the mayor of the nation’s capital.

Sure, you get bragging rights for being the home of the White House, the Capitol, the Supreme Court and the Smithsonian Institution — all of which draw tourists’ and protesters’ greenbacks.

But when it comes to the war of the states for a “equitable” share of the COVID-19 vaccine, Mayor Muriel Bowser finds the city, which is 68.3 square miles, duking it out with the nation’s big guns, including Texas and New York, and neighboring Maryland and Virginia.

While there’s a likelihood that D.C.’s vaccine allotment could show up by mid-December, which without question should be considered a godsend, D.C. officials are a bit miffed.

The complaint: There are an estimated 80,000 health care employees who actually work in D.C., but many of those workers live elsewhere.

The mayor said Thursday that the city is in line to receive only about one-tenth of the vaccine to cover 80,000 doses in the initial vaccines and that the city is being shortchanged.

D.C. officials claim that the federal allotment is based on the city’s population, and they have requested additional vaccines.

Cool, no problem, because in the meantime, D.C. officials should get with Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam anyway. After all, D.C. has never survived unto itself.

The majority of officers and employees of the Metropolitan Police Department do not live in D.C.

The majority of teachers, principals and school employees do not live in D.C.

The majority of employees in Congress, the White House and the courts, including the U.S. Marshal Service, probation officers and others who work in the justice system, do not live in D.C.

The majority of employees for Metro, the Circulator Bus and the D.C. Streetcar do not live in D.C.

The majority of employees for the Fire and EMS agency do not live in D.C.

The majority of employees for the Washington Nationals and other four major sports leagues do not live in D.C.

And, as D.C. officials themselves pointed out regarding the vaccine allotment, the majority of the health care employees who work in the city’s health care industry do not live in D.C.

Indeed, D.C. officials’s reference to Marylanders would be laughable, absent the tie to the COVID-19 vaccine.

See, the running gag is that after D.C. was granted quasi-self-governance in 1973, instead of having only eight wards, the city had birthed a ninth. Indeed, “Ward 9” is Prince George’s County and “Ward 10” could soon follow, as more and more D.C. residents and workers move to Southern Maryland.

Miss Bowser has D.C. neck-and-neck with the big guns, trying to ensure that health care workers get vaccinated in ASAP, but City Hall must also be more transparent because of demographics, socioeconomics, insurance status and, here again, geography.

Unless there’s a legal reason why Maryland cannot vaccinate its own residents and why Virginia cannot do the same, D.C. officials should make an offer they can’t refuse.

The three jurisdictions agreed on funding Metro transit.

One of the lessons regarding the pandemic is working together to get rid of COVID-19 — not merely sucking on the federal teat.

Neighboring Maryland is 12,407 square miles and Virginia 42,775 square miles.

D.C. wants statehood? D.C. wants to be a big gun? D.C. needs to act like it.

Maintain the geographical fence, but be a smart neighbor, too.

Miss Bowser threw down the gauntlet for residents, employees and visitors alike because of the pandemic lockdown but hesitates regarding the vaccine. Something’s amiss.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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