- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 22, 2021

D.C.-area officials are ramping up COVID-19 vaccination efforts by eliciting help from houses of worship and reaching out to seniors and college students to get their shots as communities prepare to open further.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan on Wednesday launched the “No Arm Left Behind” campaign to step up the state’s vaccination efforts. Under the program, the state is increasing its outreach to seniors by directly contacting thousands of Medicaid recipients age 50 and older and conducting clinics at senior housing facilities and centers.

The program includes reaching out to college campuses and reserving appointments at mass vaccination sites for university students. Bowie State University will host a town hall and clinic on April 26, and Morgan State University will host a three-day-a-week clinic for students, staff and the community beginning April 30.

In the “No Arm Left Behind” campaign, health officials will work with large companies such as Southwest Airlines, Comcast, Exelon and Amazon to vaccinate their employees.

The state also added walk-up lines at the Baltimore Convention Center Field Hospital, the Greenbelt Metro Station and the Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Maryland has set up more than 50 mobile clinics and is continuing to expand their deployment.

Nearly 56% of Maryland residents 18 years and older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccine dose, as of Thursday. The state has administered more than 4.1 million doses, averaging nearly 67,000 doses daily in the last seven days. More than 1.7 million residents, or about 28% of the state’s population, are fully vaccinated, the Maryland Department of Health reported.

In the District, houses of worship are assisting with vaccine distribution. About 150 residents on Wednesday visited the Chinese Community Church on I Street NW to receive their first of the two-dose Moderna vaccine, WTOP reported. The church worked with city officials and Howard University Hospital to set up and operate the clinic.

City officials plan to set up vaccination events at other houses of worship, including a mosque and Ethiopian church in the near future, WTOP reported, citing the Rev. Thomas Bowen, director of the Mayor’s Office of Religious Affairs.

On May 1, Mayor Muriel Bowser is scheduled to host a Day of Action in which volunteers can canvas neighborhoods and help residents pre-register for a vaccination.

All D.C. residents 16 and older became eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine last week. About 75,400 residents have pre-registered and are waiting for an appointment, as of Wednesday. The District has administered 422,000 COVID-19 shots, as of last Friday, according to the latest health data. About 30% of residents are at least partially vaccinated, and nearly 16% are fully vaccinated.

In Virginia, more than 3.5 million people, about 41% of the state population, have received at least their first vaccine dose, as of Thursday. More than 2.2 million Virginians, or 26%, are fully vaccinated, state health data show.

Virginia on Sunday opened up eligibility for vaccines for residents 16 and older. Officials expect demand for vaccines to continue to exceed supply in many parts of the state, according to an update by Gov. Ralph Northam. But health officials anticipate all residents who want a vaccine will be able to get at least their first dose by the end of May.

Maryland, Virginia and the District are starting to loosen COVID-19 restrictions as they scale up vaccination efforts.

Senior centers in Maryland will be approved to reopen for in-person activities as early as April 30. Last month, Mr. Hogan lifted capacity limits on outdoor and indoor dining and capped large venues such as theaters and concerts at 50% capacity.

Mr. Northam said Thursday he would expand capacity for venues and social gathering limits beginning May 15. The amended executive order permits social gatherings of 100 people indoors and 250 people outdoors. Indoor entertainment and public amusement venues will be able to operate at 50% capacity or up to 1,000 people.

Starting in May, the District will reopen or scale back restrictions on a number of activities. Movie theaters and indoor and outdoor seated live entertainment venues will be able to reopen at 25% capacity. Weddings and special events, conventions and business meetings can resume at 25% capacity or with up to 250 people, whichever is less. Libraries, museums, non-essential retail, recreation centers, indoor and outdoor public pools can operate at 50% capacity.

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