January 21, 2021

Message from County Executive Marc Elrich


Dear Friends,

Our new President and Vice President were sworn into office on Wednesday. They arrive at a time of great challenges and great possibilities. I am hopeful that, with their leadership and everyone’s hard work, we will get more help for the many businesses, individuals and localities that are struggling. I also hope that we will have a national plan for distribution of COVID-19 vaccines that gets as many people vaccinated as possible—and quickly.

Here in Montgomery County, I want to update you on where we are with vaccines and try to provide some clarity to what is confusing and raising concern for some.

Everything we are doing is focused on being fair, equitable AND efficient.

We are being efficient in the respect that the County does not have unused doses lying around. Each week, we administer 100 percent of the doses we receive.

How do the doses get distributed? The states receive vaccines and do the distribution. The amounts and distribution vary state to state (and the District of Columbia gets its own distribution). 

The entire State of Maryland only receives about 72,000 doses per week.

Montgomery County is generally told by the State on the weekend how many doses we will receive on Tuesday of each week. This week, we were told on Monday how many doses we would receive on Tuesday. I hope you understand the difficulty of advance planning with such little notice.

The State does not give information on what to expect for the following week. It is our understanding that, at least over the next few weeks, the State will continue to receive about 72,000 doses per week. That is the total for all the hospitals, nursing homes and counties.

This week, we received 11,900 doses in total. However, the State designated 4,600 as second doses for individuals who have already received their first doses. That means we have 7,300 doses for new vaccinations, as you can see below.

Total doses received

Doses for second dose

Doses remaining

11,900

4,600

7,300


We all agree that 7,300 is a small number of people getting vaccinated.

As of today—based on Governor Larry Hogan’s announcements—more than 110,000 people in Montgomery County are eligible for the vaccine. Beginning on Monday, more than 200,000 people will be eligible as the State enters Phase Priority 1C, which includes residents 65 and older.

This is a supply and demand issue. The demand for the vaccine far outweighs the supply available.

While the number of people who are immediately eligible has increased dramatically, vaccine supply has not changed. If our allocation continues at current levels, we can only vaccinate about 7,000 new people each week (and in coming weeks, more people will begin to need second doses).

So, what are we doing about this situation?

We all know we cannot affect the manufacturing of the vaccines, so we are following the Federal Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines on how to prioritize who gets the vaccine first.

As the CDC explains, these priorities were created in order to:
  • Decrease death and serious disease as much as possible.
  • Preserve the function of society.
  • Reduce the extra burden COVID-19 is having on people already facing disparities.
With that in mind, the CDC created Phases 1A, 1B and 1C (as well as Phases 2 and 3). You can read about them here.

Priority Group 1A includes the people at greatest risk of exposure because of the work they do or where they live.

This includes emergency responders, law enforcement, health providers and behavioral health staff. It also includes hospital staff and staff and residents in nursing homes. We are finishing giving first vaccines to this group now.

The doses for the hospitals and nursing homes are not sent to the County. Those doses are distributed directly to those entities.

We have also begun the preregistration process for people in Group 1B, including seniors 75 and older. We expect this group to begin receiving doses next week. But remember: we are likely to have 7,000 doses next week for more than 70,000 eligible people.

You may have heard about some people being able to register and get appointments for vaccines. You may have also heard about others who registered and showed up for what they thought was an appointment, but found out they did not have valid appointments to receive vaccines. I would like to explain why.

To register for a vaccine appointment, people must use the State registration system, which also is important for tracking who receives the doses. That system was not designed with a filter, so if someone forwards a link that was only intended for them, others can use the link. And that creates confusion and frustration. People sign up for spots that were not intended for them and others are turned away from what they think was their rightful appointment. And others who were in line to get an appointment cannot get one. Please do not use a link that is forwarded to you.


That is why we have a County preregistration system. We will be contacting people and sending them the link to register and get the vaccine.

You may be wondering: If you have preregistered, when will you be contacted for an appointment? We do not know.

We only find out each week how many doses we will have—and there are not nearly enough.

And, remember, every week we will have to use some doses that we receive for people who need the second dose.

I hope this gives you some sense of the process. I know some people are frustrated and impatient, but I hope that I have conveyed that we are getting out our vaccines as fast as we receive them—and we are doing it in a way that is as efficient as possible.

In the meantime, I want to remind people that our new daily case count is still very high. You can see that in the graph below. You can also see this graph at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/.

Following the guidelines continues to be very important. Maintain physical distance, wash your hands frequently and please continue to #MaskupMoCo



The Governor held a press conference today and called on all Maryland school systems to return to in-person or hybrid instruction by March 1. We all want our children back in school as quickly as possible, but we cannot simply pick an arbitrary date without metrics, vaccination quantities and plans to reach our education staff. As much as I hope that the virus is more contained by the first week of March than it is right now, there is no evidence that we can count on that—particularly with the limited number of vaccines available (which, to be clear, is not the Governor’s fault).

I am a former teacher and fully understand the importance of in-person learning. In this moment, we still have very high cases—and the existing guidelines have not changed. Dr. Anthony Fauci has talked about the importance of reducing community transmission as part of the path to schools reopening. Currently, our rate is quite high, as you can see from the above chart. The Governor, in making the case for reopening schools, stated that children are not a major source of transmission, but because so many children are asymptomatic, it is difficult to trace cases back to them. Phasing and a hybrid model of returning to in-person learning that were proposed by the Governor make sense for reopening, but reopening must proceed with metrics, planning and a focus on vaccinations for at-risk adults. Montgomery County Public Schools has a large number of staff in high-risk categories.

The Biden Administration will be issuing new guidelines that should be useful in determining how to move forward safely (unlike the Trump Administration, whose guidelines seemed to change based on trying to justify that the high number of COVID cases across the country did not violate the guidelines). Our public health staff will continue to consult with the Board of Education, which will make the decisions about reopening. With a limited supply of vaccine and ongoing high rates of transmission, decisions must be based on science to protect our education staff, students and their families.

Thank you for your ongoing understanding.




Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 20, 2021

County Prepares to Move to Phase 1B COVID-19 Vaccine Schedule, But More Vaccines Needed to Meet Demand; Those 75 and Older Can Preregister


Maryland Governor Larry Hogan has announced that the State has moved into Phase 1B of distributing COVID-19 vaccines. Phase 1B includes people age 75 and older. However, the Montgomery County Government has not yet received enough vaccine from the Maryland Department of Health to meet the demand of those in Priority Group 1A who are seeking the vaccines. The County is prepared to distribute more vaccines—it just cannot control how many doses it receives each week. 

The County will begin vaccinating those in Priority Group 1B as soon as it can, while continuing to vaccinate those in Priority Group 1A.  

The County Department of Health and Human Services is planning Coronavirus vaccine clinics for residents 75 years and older. Individuals must be residents of Montgomery County and be 75 years or older.

Residents 75 and older can pre-register to receive vaccines when they are available by going to https://tinyurl.com/yyjjrb8f.

The County is has taken swift steps to administer the vaccines it has received—proceeding at one of the highest rates of vaccine administration in Maryland. State statistics through Tuesday, Jan. 19, show that Montgomery County Government’s health department had administered 93.9 percent of the vaccines it had received through that time (18,694 of the 19,900 vaccines it had received).

Including vaccines that have been directly delivered to health services/hospitals in the County (which are not included in the statistics for doses delivered directly to the County for distribution), Maryland statistics, through Jan. 20, estimate 35,228 individuals in the County had received a first dose of the vaccine and 3,926 individuals have received a second dose

The County will not wait until everyone in a specific group is vaccinated before moving to the next group, but it is aiming to get maximum uptake of vaccinations by each group. “Herd immunity” is accomplished when at least 80 percent of those eligible to be vaccinated are given shots (both doses).

Vaccinations are by appointment only. The County will provide a link to the appointment system when it moves to the next priority groups.

The County is following CDC and Maryland Department of Health guidance.

The County has established a Vaccine Dashboard to provide updated information on the distribution of vaccines. The information includes the number of vaccines received and the number distributed.

The dashboard also establishes the priority list for the order of people to receive vaccines in Montgomery County.

Priority Group 1 A (Tier 1) recipients will include:
  • *Hospital personnel
  • *Long Term Care Facilities (staff and residents)
  • *Development Disability Agency group homes
  • *Assisted Living Facilities
  • *Rest & Rehabilitation Facilities
  • *Delivered via pharmacy partnership
Priority Group 1 A (Tier 2) will include populations with frequent exposure to individuals with known COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • EMS
  • Vaccinators (LHD, school nurse, etc.)
  • Testing sites – testers/onsite registration
  • Public Health – COVID response
  • Urgent care
  • Primary care
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include populations with risk of exposure to individuals with suspected COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • Dental practices
  • Pharmacists
  • Other health care professionals (e.g., outpatient specialties, optometrists, physical therapists, podiatrists, community health workers, in-home nursing staff)
  • Detention Centers staff
  • Homeless shelters staff
  • Law enforcement (patrol/public-facing)
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include:
  • Fire rescue 
  • 9-1-1 dispatchers
  • Behavioral health (non-telehealth) – e.g., residential/recovery
  • School nurses (non-vaccine/non-testers)
  • Lab workers
  • Morticians/funeral home staff
  • Surgical centers
  • Other providers licensed by Maryland
Priority Group 1B (Tier 1) consists of:
  • Adults age 75 years and older
Additional details on the County’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including the groups in Priority Groups 1B (Tier 2) and Priority Group 1C, can be found on the website

COVID-19 Information Portal Has Statistics on How the Virus Has Impacted the County, Including Infections by Zip Codes



Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Information Portal provides a variety of breakdowns on how the virus has impacted the County. The statistics are regularly updated to reflect the most recent reports during the health crisis.

Among the information available is how many positive cases have been reported in each zip code in the County. That information can be found at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/case-counts.html#cases-zip.

Other breakdowns on the COVID-19 Information Portal include:

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19


There are numerous ways to get tested for COVID-19 in Montgomery County. The County operates dozens of clinics most weeks and rotates the locations to make testing easily accessible for residents in all parts of the County. In addition, there are many privately operated testing programs. 

Testing at County-operated clinics is free, does not require a doctor’s referral and is available by making advance appointments or on a walk-up basis.

There may be a fee at privately operated sites. Residents should check in advance on any possible cost and available times at privately operated sites.

To view the schedule of upcoming County-operated test clinics, and to make an appointment, go to www.MoCoCOVIDtesting.org.

County Public Libraries to Have New Branch Hours Beginning Sunday, Jan. 24


Montgomery County Public Libraries will temporarily reduce their hours of service to 48 hours weekly beginning Sunday, Jan. 24. There will no longer be service on Sundays. All branches will be open eight hours on other days.

The branches will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and noon to 8 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The Noyes Library will remain closed.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately requires us to make this decision,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “I hope that we will be able to begin to restore our operating hours as the situation improves over the course of the year.”

MCPL’s contactless holds pickup service “Holds to Go!” will operate during the new hours. The hours adjustments will make it possible to continue Holds to Go! at all branches.

Virtual services can take place outside of the new branch hours. Digital services will continue to be available 24/7.

For more information about MCPL services, visit the website.

County Health Officer Travis Gayles to Discuss Deeper Aspects of COVID-19 as The Featured Guest on Montgomery College ‘Presidential Dialogue Series’ on Thursday, Jan. 28




Montgomery County Health Officer Travis Gayles, who has been at the forefront of the County’s response to the COVID-19 health crisis, will be the featured guest at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 28, on the next episode of the Montgomery College video “Presidential Dialogue Series.” He will discuss the County’s actions during the health crisis with Montgomery College President DeRionne Pollard. 

The event will be streamed here: http://bit.ly/mc-presidential-dialogue-ce. Viewers can submit questions that may be asked during the broadcast by emailing them by Monday, Jan. 25, to presidentialdialogue@montgomerycollege.edu

Dr. Gayles has been delivering urgent messages to the community about transmission, treatment and vaccinations since the health crisis started in March 2020. 

The pandemic has drawn renewed attention to health disparities in the nation. While African Americans are only 30 percent of the population of Maryland, they make up 50 percent of COVID fatalities.

Vulnerability to infectious diseases often correlates with social variables such as income inequality, access to affordable health care, housing and transportation. COVID-19 has demonstrated how race and immigration impact disease transmission, progression and outcomes.

Dr. Gayles, a medical doctor who also holds a Ph.D. in Community Health, will address how the County has made decisions about health protocols, communicating them to diverse communities and strategizing about how support for basic needs will mitigate infections.

This year’s Presidential Dialogue Series focuses on how to build racial justice in a multicultural society.

Previous guests on the Presidential Dialogue Series have included Congressman David Trone, Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones, University of Maryland-Baltimore County President Freeman A. Hrabowski III, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, political consultant Neera Tanden and authors Elaine Weiss and Elsa Barkley Brown.

County Commission for Women’s 41st Annual Legislative Briefing Topics Include Advocating with Strength for Equality and Justice

The Montgomery County Commission for Women (CFW) will host its 41st Annual Women’s Legislative Briefing (WLB) from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 31. The virtual event brings together advocates, allies, policymakers and emerging leaders to empower, engage and mobilize Marylanders around issues affecting women and girls.

This year’s theme, “Beyond 2020: Advocating with Strength for Equality and Justice,” will focus on moving beyond the struggles of 2020 with vigor, determination and empowerment.

The opening session, “Women on the Front Lines,” will include a panel discussion with women who have worked in education, healthcare, business and retail fields throughout the COVID-19 health crisis. The women will share their challenges, struggles and accomplishments while working under extraordinary demands and pressures.

“Women have been hit hard by this pandemic and through it all have made tremendous contributions and have courageously served on the frontlines,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The CFW Legislative Briefing is an opportunity to recognize their valiant work, reflect on everything that happened in 2020 and then develop an attainable plan to remove threats to equitable rights, responsibilities and opportunities for everyone.”

Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a variety of breakout sessions addressing topics such as economic and social justice, safety and security, healthcare and education. Participants will hear from members of the Maryland General Assembly, community leaders who influence policymaking and representatives of organizations that advance the status of women and girls such as the Maryland Coalition Against Sexual Assault, Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, the Job Opportunities Task Force and EveryMind.

Middle and high school students are encouraged to participate in the forum and attend the WLB Emerging Leaders sessions, which are interactive workshops that focus on civic engagement and pathways to leadership.

The regional event is the longest-standing women’s legislative event in Maryland.

Registration is available on the event registration website. For more information call 240-777-8300 or visit the CFW website. Follow the event using the hashtag #MoCoWLB via Twitter and Facebook.

Public Libraries to Offer Free Conflict Resolution Programs

Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL), in partnership with the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, will be offering the free Peace by Peace Series—four workshops that explore what conflict means and how and why individuals react in different ways to conflict. The programs offer tips and techniques on developing methods to communicate with a partner, friend, family member, acquaintance or co-worker. Workshops are geared toward specific situations and age groups.

“During these stressful times, communication can be challenging,” said MCPL Director Anita Vassallo. “MCPL is so delighted to be able to offer these timely workshops offering residents helpful techniques to effectively engage in conversations with individuals with opposing views while maintaining positive relationships.”

The Peace by Peace Series free workshops schedule:
All workshops are offered virtually. Registration is required for each. For more information, email Clotilde Puértolas at clotilde.puertolas@montgomerycountymd.gov

‘What’s Happening MoCo’ Podcast Helps Residents Learn More About Montgomery County, Featuring Guests Such as Jazz Great Marcus Johnson

Montgomery County residents can learn more about the programs, events and people in their County through the podcast “What’s Happening MoCo.” In past episodes, the podcast, which is hosted by Derrick Kenny, has addressed important subjects while introducing residents to County government leaders, employees and resources. The featured guest on the latest episode is Marcus Johnson, a former member of the Blair High School jazz band who has gone on to become an internationally known jazz artist, producer and author.

Jerome Fletcher, an assistant chief administrative officer for Montgomery County, also joined the podcast to share an update on business and community resources.

New podcasts are released twice a month. The live stream of the newest episode can be viewed starting at 3:30 p.m. today, Thursday, Jan. 21, via the What’s Happening MoCo Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/WhatsHappeningMoCoPodcast.

The podcast also can be heard via several popular podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts at https://bit.ly/whats-happening-moco, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio and others.

Johnson’s music has hit the Billboard Top 10, he has been nominated for an NAACP Image Award and he founded FLO Brands.

He also is the author of “For the Love of . . . Living the Journey of Life with Intention, Love, Passion and Happiness.” The book is a collection of essays that contain personal advice from the musician and entrepreneur who has managed to stay afloat in cutthroat industries, achieving success despite venturing into the saturated markets of live and recorded music and wine and spirits. On the podcast, he talks about his “DEEPER” approach to managing change and striving for success.

About two dozen episodes of What’s Happening MoCo have been produced. Previous podcasts have included County Director of Procurement Ash Shetty talking about how vendors can work to obtain County Government contracts; Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Goldstein sharing safety tips for families, Michele Eberle, executive director of the Maryland Health Connection addressing how uninsured residents can get health insurance; and Mary Beth Dugan of the Access Office of Montgomery Parks discussing programs for active seniors.

Host Kenny, an audio-visual specialist with the County’s Office of Broadband Programs, said the podcast was originated to raise awareness of County Government programs and the range of subjects has evolved.

Residents interested in asking a question or suggesting a topic to be addressed in a future episode are encouraged to engage via the Facebook page or via e-mail at derrick.kenny@montgomerycountymd.gov.

What’s Happening MoCo podcast episode archives can be accessed by visiting the podcast’s webpage at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/CCM/whats-happening-moco-podcast.html.


Funding Available to Help Cover the Cost of Renting County Facilities for Youth Sports that Primarily Service Low-Income Youth

Montgomery County has allocated funding to help cover the cost of facility fee rentals for youth sports programs that primarily serve vulnerable and/or low-income youth. The program will administer the funds through the Facility Fee Assistance Program.

The County’s Community Use of Public Facilities (CUPF) interagency coordinating board’s programs must be free to participants or charge only a nominal fee to qualify for the program.

Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, only school fields are available for purposes of this subsidy program. Requests for funds can be submitted for dates of use between March 15 and Aug.15.

Only fields at elementary and middle school sites can be requested at this time, and only for the following times:
  • March 15-June 16 (or last day of MCPS school year): end of the school day until sundown.
  • Weekends and June 17-Aug. 15: 7 a.m. to sundown.
To apply for funding consideration, complete the online application.

For more information about the program, email cupf@montgomerycountymd.gov.

County Commission on Veterans Affairs Supports ‘Toastmasters’ Program to Help Build Communications Skills and Confidence for Veterans; Next Meeting is Saturday, Jan. 23

A special chapter of the worldwide Toastmasters organization that was formed in Montgomery County to help improve speaking skills and build confidence for veterans will be held starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 23. The meeting will be held virtually via Zoom due to the COVID-19 health crisis. Montgomery County’s Commission on Veterans Affairs strongly supports the program as an opportunity to help veterans.

The special chapter invites veterans, wounded warriors, transitioning military personnel and caregivers to experience the Toastmasters program that works to build skills in public speaking, job interview situations and experiencing group settings. The program seeks to build self-confidence and maximize potential. 

To register for the meeting and get instructions on how to access it, go to the link via Zoom.

“Veterans sometimes leave military service with issues of various kinds—some obvious to others and some not so obvious,” said Wayne Miller, chair of the Montgomery County Commission on Veterans Affairs. “Often not noticeable is the lack of self-confidence that comes in moving to the non-military world. Toastmasters is one opportunity veterans can take advantage of to build the skills and confidence needed to succeed in their next steps in life.”

Toastmasters International is a nonprofit educational organization that was established in 1924 and teaches public speaking and leadership skills. It currently has more than 364,000 members in more than 16,200 clubs in 145 countries. For information about local Toastmasters clubs, visit www.toastmasters.org.

January 14, 2021

Message County Executive Marc Elrich



Dear Friends,

As I am writing this letter, Governor Larry Hogan has just held a news conference about changes to the distribution system for the COVID-19 vaccine. I want you to know that my staff and I are reviewing his statements and will share information with you as we have it.

Speaking of information, I think over the past week we have seen extreme examples of how dangerous misinformation can be. Here in Montgomery County, I am concerned that there is misinformation being circulated about vaccines and distribution. I want to use this space to share actual information with you.

I have received many questions, such as: When can I get the vaccine? Why are my friends in other states getting the vaccine and I can’t? Can’t I register in advance? Can’t you move any faster? Why is it taking so long? Why are you sitting on a ton of vaccines and why don’t you get them out?

First, let me be very clear: We are administering the vaccines as we receive them. We do NOT have unused vaccines lying around or going to waste. You can see this information on our special COVID website at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine/.

As you may know, the State—not the County—receives the vaccines and then distributes the doses. For the past four weeks, we have received vaccines from the State. Each week, we get two-to-three days’ notice of when they will arrive and how many doses we will receive. We cannot make plans to administer those doses until we have that information. 

Some have asked why we do not ask our employees to work through the weekend to finish vaccine distribution as fast as possible. Our public health and logistics staff has worked non-stop since this pandemic began more than 10 months ago. They are tired. They are willing to work as much as needed, but right now, we do not need them to work on the weekends because we do not have enough vaccine doses from the State. We can—and have—used all the doses before the next supply arrives. If we use our doses quickly during the week, we do not get more doses.

To date, the County has only received 19,800 doses. We have approximately 750,000 County residents who are eligible for these doses. Some will receive doses directly from hospitals or nursing homes, but most will not.

The vaccines that are currently available from two drug companies require two doses about four weeks apart to be fully effective. That makes the math simple: We may need 1.5 million doses to cover all residents if these remain the only two types of vaccines. So even as the number of doses we receive increases, we must use some of them to give the second shot to people who have already received their first vaccine.

The chart below shows what we have received so far and how the second doses will be administered. 


As you can see, the first 100 people are now receiving their second doses and the chart tells when the others need to receive their second doses.

In the week of Jan. 27, we will need 4,200 doses just for the people who already received their first shot. Even if we received 12,200 doses that week, only 8,000 new people would receive a dose.

For the week of Feb. 3, we need to use 8,600 doses as second shots. So even if we receive 16,600 doses, only 8,000 of those doses will go to new people.

We think—actually, we hope—we will receive more doses next week, possibly around Jan. 19. We are waiting to hear from the State about how many doses we will receive and when we will receive them.

If we receive more doses, we will make sure they are quickly administered and we will continue to do it based on CDC guidance. That means we have to prioritize groups because we have many more people needing vaccines than doses available. We explain the priorities on our website.

Right now, we have the capacity to administer many more doses than we have received. And we are working with partners around the County on how to increase that capacity. In addition, we are talking with our counterparts in other jurisdictions to learn what they are doing.

I know many of you want to know: When will it be my turn?

We do not know when it will be your turn. It depends on how many doses we receive from the State. I know that the Governor has said that residents 75 and older (approximately 73,000 in our County), and others, should be prioritized beginning next week. The plan only works if we receive many more doses from the State than we are currently receiving.

In other states, people 75 and older may already be receiving their vaccines for a variety of reasons. Some states may have received more doses than Maryland. Jurisdictions within a state may have received different amounts of doses depending on that state’s allocation formulas. Additionally, states may have decided to move into Phase 1b of priority groupings even if Phase 1a is not complete. Also, a state may not have followed the CDC guidelines for prioritization. There may be other reasons. 

But I want you to know that we are not holding back vaccines and we are administering them first to the people at greatest risk of exposure – as directed by the CDC. 

How will you know when it is your turn? If you have email and internet access, please sign up for our updates on our webpage.

We are working on a system that will allow people to register in advance. We are learning from mistakes in other places where the systems are crashing. We want our system to be able to handle the number of people we expect to sign up.

There also are many people who do not have easy access to email and the internet and we want to be able to reach them when it is their turn. These are issues of equity and fairness.

We are also adapting as information and supplies change. The Federal government has said it will release more doses—we are awaiting information about what that means. Next week, we will have a new President and administration and there may be more changes. We are in constant contact with officials at the State and Federal levels, as well as with other local officials and public health experts.

I hope this has helped give a sense of vaccine distribution. We will continue to provide updated information.

In the meantime, please remember that we all need to maintain physical distance and to wash hands frequently. And wear a mask. Please stay safe.



Marc Elrich
County Executive

January 13, 2021

County Administering COVID-19 Vaccines at One of the Highest Rates in the State—More Doses Needed


Montgomery County is has taken swift steps to administer the vaccines it has received—proceeding at one of the highest rates of vaccine administration in Maryland.

Of the first 19,800 doses of the Moderna vaccine the County received, it is estimated that 100 percent will be distributed by Friday, Jan. 15. The County has not informed about when the next doses will arrive, nor how many doses will be delivered. 

Including vaccines that have been delivered directly to private contract administrators/hospitals in the County (which are not included in the statistics for doses delivered directly to the County for distribution), Maryland statistics estimate 30,000 to 40,000 individuals have been vaccinated from the County’s first priority group (1A). The County will not wait until everyone in that group is vaccinated before moving to the next group, but it is aiming to get maximum uptake of vaccinations by each group. “Herd immunity” is accomplished when at least 80 percent of those eligible to be vaccinated are given shots (both doses). 

Vaccinations are by appointment only. The County will provide a link to the appointment system when it moves to the next priority groups.

The County is following CDC and Maryland Department of Health guidance.

The County has established a Vaccine Dashboard to provide updated information on the distribution of vaccines. The information includes the number of vaccines received and the number distributed.

The dashboard also establishes the priority list for the order of people to receive vaccines in Montgomery County.

Click to View in PDF

Priority Group 1 A (Tier 1) recipients will include:
  • Hospital personnel
  • *Long Term Care Facilities (staff and residents)
  • *Development Disability Agency group homes
  • *Assisted Living Facilities
  • *Rest & Rehabilitation Facilities
  • *Delivered via pharmacy partnership
Priority Group 1 A (Tier 2) will include populations with frequent exposure to individuals with known COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • EMS
  • Vaccinators (LHD, school nurse, etc.)
  • Testing sites – testers/onsite registration
  • Public Health – COVID response
  • Urgent care
  • Primary care
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include populations with risk of exposure to individuals with suspected COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • Dental practices
  • Pharmacists
  • Other health care professionals (e.g., outpatient specialties, optometrists, physical therapists, podiatrists, community health workers, in-home nursing staff)
  • Detention Centers staff
  • Homeless shelters staff
  • Law enforcement (patrol/public-facing)
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include:
  • Fire rescue • 9-1-1 dispatchers
  • Behavioral health (non-telehealth) – e.g., residential/recovery
  • School nurses (non-vaccine/non-testers)
  • Lab workers
  • Morticians/funeral home staff
  • Surgical centers
  • Other providers licensed by Maryland
Priority Group 1B (Tier 1) consists of:
  • Adults age 75 years and older
For additional details on the County’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including the groups in Priority Groups 1B (Tier 2) and Priority Group 1C, can be found at See the County's latest COVID-19 Vaccines Update.


Montgomery County Seeks Feedback on Residents’ Demand for Receiving COVID-19 Vaccine

Montgomery County has launched an online survey to get an informed understanding of how residents feel about taking the COVID-19 vaccine.

The survey is not scientific, but will help identify concerns residents may have about the vaccine. With a goal of vaccinating 75 to 80 percent of the community, the County will use the feedback to address questions and to better reach communities hit hardest by COVID-19 and have historically been apprehensive about trusting vaccines or medical research.

The County plans to incorporate the information from the survey into its communications efforts to educate the public on the importance of taking the vaccine.

The survey is open through Thursday, Feb. 4, and is on the County’s COVID-19 vaccine website. The survey is anonymous and is available in the top seven spoken languages in the County. It also is available on the County’s Facebook page and Twitter feed.

The survey has 12 multiple choice questions and takes approximately five minutes to complete. In addition to the survey being available online, the survey will be offered to residents at several of the County’s COVID-19 testing sites.


County to Honor Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Virtual Celebration on Monday, Jan. 18



Montgomery County will host its annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, but due to the COVID-19 health crisis, will do it in a virtual program at 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18.

“In His and Their Own Words: Reflecting Our Past While Forecasting the Future” will honor Dr. King’s life through dramatic readings, musical and dance performances. The event, produced by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Committee and the Montgomery County Office of Human Rights, will be available on County Cable Montgomery; Comcast and RCN (Channel 6 and HD Channel 996); Verizon (Channel 30); and County Cable Facebook. 

This year’s event will include special greetings and remarks by County Executive Marc Elrich and County Council President Tom Hucker and introductory remarks by James Stowe, director of the County’s Office of Human Rights. County Councilmembers will recite brief excerpts from Dr. King’s speeches and four students will share their personal letters addressed to “Dear Martin.” The event will feature an interactive segment that will allow viewers to create MLK-inspired art in real time while enjoying performances by Chelsey Green, Dem Raider Boyz and the Akhmedova Ballet Academy.

World-renowned jazz musician and Montgomery County’s own, Marcus Johnson, will conclude the event with a special performance created especially for the 2021 celebration.

Students can earn SSL hours by viewing the celebration and participating in an advocacy and reflection exercise as part of an MLK Week of Service. More details are available on the MLK Student Service Learning project page.

Registration is encouraged to receive a day of reminder email with the direct link to the event and instructions on how to participate in the live interactive part of the show.

For more information, visit the event website.


COVID-19 Information Portal Has Statistics on How the Virus Has Impacted the County, Including Infections by Zip Codes



Montgomery County’s COVID-19 Information Portal provides a variety of breakdowns on how the virus has impacted the County. The statistics are regularly updated to reflect the most recent reports during the health crisis.

Among the information available is how many positive cases have been reported in each zip code in the County. That information can be found at https://montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/data/case-counts.html#cases-zip.

Other breakdowns on the COVID-19 Information Portal include:

Where to Get Tested for COVID-19


There are numerous ways to get tested for COVID-19 in Montgomery County. The County operates dozens of clinics most weeks and rotates the locations to make testing easily accessible for residents in all parts of the County. In addition, there are many privately operated testing programs.

Testing at County-operated clinics is free, does not require a doctor’s referral and is available by making advance appointments or on a walk-up basis.

There may be a fee at privately operated sites. Residents should check in advance on any possible cost and available times at privately operated sites.

To view the schedule of upcoming County-operated test clinics, and to make an appointment, go to www.MoCoCOVIDtesting.org.

Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services Releases List of Top 10 Selling Beer, Wine and Spirits for 2020


Corona Extra is the top-selling beer in Montgomery County, Barefoot wines are the leading wine sellers and Tito’s Handmade Vodka is the most popular spirit. Those products headed their respective lists of the top-selling products according to 2020 sales results released by Montgomery County’s Alcohol Beverage Services (ABS).

Corona Extra has been the top-selling beer brand in Montgomery County for the past five years and Barefoot has been the best-selling wine brand over the same period. Tito’s has been the best-selling liquor brand in the County for the past three years.

The lists are based on sales dollars through the ABS warehouse to private restaurants, privately owned beer and wine stores and the 26 County-operated retail stores.

The top 10 beers by sales:
  1. Corona Extra
  2. Heineken
  3. Modelo Especial
  4. Bud Light
  5. Miller Lite
  6. Coors Light
  7. Budweiser
  8. Stella Artois
  9. Sam Adams
  10. Michelob Ultra
The top 10 wine brands by sales:
  1. Barefoot
  2. Black Box
  3. Kendall Jackson
  4. Sheffield
  5. Turning Leaf
  6. Woodbridge
  7. Sutter Home
  8. Yellow Tail
  9. Bota Box
  10. Franzia

The top 10 spirits brand by sales:
  1. Tito’s Handmade Vodka
  2. Hennessy
  3. Jack Daniel’s
  4. Johnnie Walker
  5. Patron
  6. Jameson
  7. Bacardi Rum
  8. Maker’s Mark
  9. Grey Goose
  10. Smirnoff

While the top 10 brand list is similar to last year’s list, ABS reports seeing some substantial growth in other categories.

This past November, ABS partnered with the Maryland Distillers Guild to promote Maryland Spirits Month. The retail stores offered 10 percent discounts on Maryland-produced spirits during the promotion campaign. Helped by the campaign, Maryland-made spirit sales in ABS stores increased by $57,007 (288 percent) for November 2020 compared to sales in November 2019. More information on this program can be viewed on ABS’s Maryland Made and Keeping it Local website pages.

County Holiday Task Force Results in 262 DUI Arrests; No DUI-Related Fatal Collisions Occurred During Eight-Week Period


An eight-week special task force formed to prevent serious and fatal traffic collisions in Montgomery County during the holiday season resulted in 262 arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. During the period of the task force, which began Nov. 18 and was composed of specially assigned Montgomery County Police, along with respective City and State police agency partners, there were no DUI-related fatal collisions in the County.

The task force, which continued through Jan. 9, was part of Montgomery County’s Vision Zero Initiative that seeks to reduce serious and fatal traffic collisions.

During much of the period of the task force, County restaurants and bars had limitations in indoor operations and in operating hours due to the COVID-19 health crisis. However, the number of drivers operating vehicles while impaired remained significant.

“Since the pandemic began, we have seen a ‘triple threat’ of excessive speeds, impaired driving and not wearing a seatbelt that have resulted in people losing their lives on our roads,” said Captain David McBain of the traffic division of County Police. “The task force sought to limit the danger on our roads for innocent drivers, passengers and pedestrians. We want everyone to get home safe and these mobilizations are a reminder about the responsibilities we all have to keep our roads safe.”

The County Police Alcohol Holiday Task Force was comprised of specifically assigned officers from the Alcohol Initiatives Section and patrol officers from the six police districts. In addition, the task force included officers from the City of Gaithersburg Police Department, the City of Takoma Park Police Department, the Maryland-National Capital Park Police Department (Montgomery County Division), troopers from Maryland State Police, Maryland Department of Transportation Administration Police and deputies from the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office. Task force officers devoted their full attention to detecting alcohol-related offenses during the special enforcement campaign.

County Police had seven full-time Alcohol Initiatives Unit officers and 20 additional officers assigned to the task force. Other departments and agencies had various numbers of officers participating in the enforcement efforts. Among the actions of the task force partners was to stop suspected drunk drivers and to work with the County’s Department of Alcohol and Beverage Services inspectors on retail compliance with ID and legal age laws.

Over the past three years, the Holiday Task Force has removed more than 850 impaired drivers from local roads. The task force’s work was dedicated to County Police Officer Noah Leotta, who was killed by a drunk driver while on duty as part of the 2015 task force.

More about the County’s Vision Zero Initiative can be found at montgomerycountymd.gov/visionzero.

Free Outdoor Public Wi-Fi Available Near 10 County Libraries and the Silver Spring Civic Building


Montgomery County has leveraged federal COVID-19 funding to install outdoor public Wi-Fi at 10 Public Library (MCPL) locations. The free service is available 24 hours a day at the MCPL branches at Aspen Hill, Davis (North Bethesda), Gaithersburg, Germantown, Maggie Nightingale (Poolesville), Marilyn Praisner (Burtonsville), Rockville Memorial, Twinbrook, Wheaton and White Oak branches. The program also will provide free Wi-Fi in front of the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza.

All MCPL buildings are currently closed due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but the free Wi-Fi service is available in parking lots adjacent to the library buildings. Additional coverage is provided in grass area behind the Davis branch; in the park from the library to the playground area at Wheaton; and in Rockville Town Square.

Wi-Fi coverage varies by location. Customers are advised to follow COVID-19 safety recommendations and are required to adhere to executive orders and health officer directives when using the services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought greater awareness of the impacts of the widening digital disparity, which often deprives community members of opportunities to participate in important daily-life activities such as remote learning, accessing workforce development and employment information or staying up-to-date on news and information,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The work of MCPL and the Department of Technology Services (DTS) to secure funding to provide Wi-Fi availability for outside use at 11 County facilities is another step in working to ensure that all community members have equitable access to reliable connectivity.”

DTS worked to leverage Federal CARES Act COVID-19 grant funding to install the Wi-Fi access.

The 10 library branches were chosen by analyzing U.S. Census and MCPL data. Seven library branches were selected by mapping Census data neighborhoods with lower incomes and households without home internet. Three additional locations (Davis, Rockville and Wheaton Regional) were selected because, prior to the pandemic, they had greater participation in MCPL small business programs.

“Small business owners who relied on MCPL indoor Wi-Fi to run their businesses asked the County for help and we were glad to assist them,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for Small Economic Development Jerome Fletcher. “Small businesses are critical to County’s economy recovery and more outdoor public Wi-Fi is another way the County is offering relief to small businesses.”

For more information about the outdoor Wi-Fi services contact MCPL Assistant Director James Donaldson at James.Donaldson@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-0030.

Online Process to Request Food Assistance Resources Available

Montgomery County residents looking for information on food assistance resources can now request help by completing an online form. Available in seven languages (Amharic, Chinese, English, French, Korean, Spanish and Vietnamese), the form is reviewed by a trained resource specialist. Residents receive a return phone call within one business day. 

A specialist will determine an individual’s or family’s food needs and help them locate food assistance in their community. No personally identifiable information is needed to get help.

Information is available about free food distribution sites, free meal and grocery delivery, SNAP (food stamps), local food assistance providers and other resources in the County. Residents can also call 311 and ask for the Food Access Call Center to get help.

The Food Access Call Center opened in June 2020 and has been working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to address the increasing need for food assistance. As of mid-December, the Food Access Call Center has responded to more than 2,000 calls/referrals.

Visit the County’s COVID-19 website for more information on food assistance resources.




County’s MLK Day of Service Event Moves to Virtual Platform, Expands to a Week



Every January for more than a decade, the Montgomery County Volunteer Center has brought together thousands of area residents for an afternoon of activities featured as part of its Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK) Day of Service. This year, the event will go virtual and will be expanded to a week, Jan. 16-24, with a variety of home-based and safely distanced service opportunities available online at http://bit.ly/MoCoMLKDay.

The Volunteer Center’s 2021 MLK service will offer residents of all ages the opportunity to honor the life and teachings of Dr. King by participating in remote service projects that help others. Activities include creating toys for service dogs, making blankets for hospice patients, sending well wishes to COVID patients and donating books on diversity for students. MCPS students can earn student service learning (SSL) hours for most projects except donations.

All event activities are free, but space is limited for some projects and registration is required.

In addition to the Volunteer Center’s virtual MLK service activities, several partner agencies are coordinating service projects for MLK Day 2021. More information about them can be found at http://bit.ly/MoCoMLKDay.

The Volunteer Center strives to improve the quality of life in Montgomery County by fostering a culture of volunteerism and service. The agency’s website at www.montgomeryserves.org connects community members in search of volunteer activities with nonprofits and government agencies in need of assistance.




County Public Libraries Holds Virtual Comic Convention


Montgomery County Public Libraries (MCPL) will host its fifth free comic convention, MoComCon, on Saturday, Jan. 16. Due to the COVID-19 health crisis, MoComCon 2021 will be a full-day, online event for all ages. The event will celebrate all things comics, graphic novels and fandoms. 

Event highlights for Jan. 16 include:
  • Superhero Storytime, 10 a.m.
  • LEGO Master Presents—Blast Off to Space, 11 a.m.
  • Create a Creature, 12:30 p.m.
  • Pipe Cleaner Superhero, 1 p.m.
  • Redrawing the World: Creating New Landscapes in Comics: Panel discussion with local graphic novel authors and illustrators, 2 p.m.
  • Cosplay Contest, 3:30 p.m.
  • Art Show, 5 p.m.
A special lead-up event featuring Robin Ha, who is the author and illustrator of “Almost American Girl,” will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15. Born in Seoul, Korea, Ha grew up reading and drawing comics. She moved to the United States when she was 14. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design with a BFA in illustration, she moved to New York City and started a career in the fashion industry. Her work has been published in independent comics anthologies including Secret Identities and The Strumpet, as well as in the pages of Marvel Comics and Heavy Metal Magazine.

Visit the MoComCon website for more information.

Input Sought for County Study to Improve Transportation Navigation and Safety for People with Vision Loss and Disabilities

The Montgomery County Department of Transportation (MCDOT) is conducting a public survey to get input from those who have vision disabilities or are advocates, caregivers or related professionals supporting people who move around the County with reduced vision. Anyone who experiences challenges navigating the built network or works with people with vision or mobility impairments is encouraged to complete a survey that MCDOT has made available through the end of January.

MCDOT held a virtual public meeting on Jan. 11 to seek thoughts and suggestions on improving mobility for residents with vision disabilities. The survey seeks input from those who were not able to participate in the virtual meeting.

The survey, in English, can be found at https://tinyurl.com/yxshmbvn. It will be available through Sunday, Jan. 31. The survey is also available in Spanish.


The Jan. 11 meeting was held to hear about challenges people with vision disabilities (including all levels of vision loss) face when trying to get around the County and accessing regional transit options. Approximately 60 people—many with vision disabilities—participated in the meeting and provided testimony about their challenges getting around the County.

MCDOT is working to create new approaches to designing sidewalks, bus stops and intersections to improve accessibility for all.

This project is funded through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments’ Transportation Land Use Connections (TLC) program, which selected Toole Design Group as the lead consultant for the effort. A major goal of the project is to develop solutions that are appropriate for implementation in Montgomery County and across the region.

Before completing the survey, residents are encouraged to review the project webpage and to access a recording of the Jan. 11 meeting. The recording of the meeting will be available soon on the project webpage.

Written comments about the project can be submitted to Montgomery County Department of Transportation /Matt Johnson /100 Edison Park Drive, 4th Floor / Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878.

Comments also can be emailed to matt.johnson@montgomerycountymd.gov. In addition, he can be reached at 240-777-7237.

Free Online Workshops and One-on-One Sessions for Job Seekers and Entrepreneurs Offered in January

Montgomery County Public Libraries is offering free online workshops and one-on-one sessions geared toward assisting job seekers. All workshops are free and offered live via video conference.

The assistance for job seekers will include:
  • How to Apply for Jobs with Montgomery County Government. Wednesday, Jan 20. 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Learn about applying for jobs with Montgomery County Government. Registration is available on the website.
  • H.I.R.E. (Helping Individuals Reach Employment) Sessions. Monday, Jan. 25. 9:30-11:30 a.m. Confidential meetings with a career counselor for advice and assistance with job searches. Registration is available on the website.
An internet connection and a device (such as a smartphone, tablet, or computer) are needed for participation.

For more information on Montgomery County Public Libraries’ other virtual programs for all ages, visit the website.


County Animal Services and Adoption Center to Offer Weekly Free Rabies Clinics for Dogs, Cats and Ferrets


Montgomery County’s Animal Services and Adoption Center (MCASAC) will begin hosting free appointment-based rabies clinics for dogs, cats and ferrets owned by County residents. The clinics will take place at the County’s animal shelter facility located at 7315 Muncaster Mill Road in Derwood, on select Wednesdays beginning Jan. 20.

Due to COVID-19, to minimize risk for both participants and staff, the clinics will be appointment-based only. All appointments must be made online through the MCASAC website. Appointments may be made up to three weeks in advance. At this time, MCASAC will not provide pet licensing or microchipping services as part of the clinics, but hopes to add the options in the future.

As part of MCASAC’s effort to minimize risk for participants and staff, pet owners will not be permitted to enter the building with their animal and must remain in their vehicle unless instructed otherwise by staff. MCASAC is unable to provide services to animals requiring a muzzle or whose owners must be present to safely vaccinate.

A complete list of procedures and restrictions can be found on the MCASAC website.

South Germantown Bike Park Closes Due to Poor Trail Conditions 

The South Germantown Bike Park, which is operated by the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, has been closed for the remainder of the winter due to adverse track conditions.

The bike park, located in South Germantown Recreational Park, has sustained damage due to use during wet and muddy conditions. Repairs on the trail will begin this winter and the park is expected to reopen in March.

The South Germantown Bike Park, which is located along the Hoyles Mill Trail, is maintained by Montgomery Parks and The Mid-Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE). During the closure, users can seek alternative multi-use and hard surface trails. Trail users can find up-to-date trail closures and conditions on the Montgomery Parks RainoutLine.

January 7, 2021

Message from the County Executive



Dear Friends,

I had planned to start this letter with Happy New Year, but yesterday’s events at the Capitol were really disturbing and alarming so “happy” is not the right term. The mob that stormed the Capitol was trying to change the results of a democratic election—essentially it was a coup attempt. And the President of the United States encouraged it—and then was silent at crucial moments.

It was reassuring that Congress was able to resume its work to certify the votes of the Presidential election, but the events were alarming nonetheless. Some of our Montgomery County public safety employees went to the Capitol to help out with the emergency response after assistance from local jurisdictions was requested. I want to thank those employees for their work. I am glad our County was able to help preserve our nation’s democracy.

We are looking forward to new Federal leadership because that leadership has been missing throughout this pandemic. We need Federal funds for local jurisdictions as we work to help our residents and businesses. And we need leadership on COVID-19 vaccine distribution.

Speaking of vaccines, you may have heard that the County has begun to receive doses from the State. I am pleased to report that we are administering the doses as fast as we get them. With only about two days notice each time, our staff has organized vaccine clinics to distribute about 4,000 doses the first week and about 8,000 doses the following week. I appreciated that Maryland Governor Hogan this week noted the efficiency of our operations.

I am sure you have questions about how the vaccine will be distributed. The information we do have is available on our new COVID-19 vaccine website. At this site, you also can sign up to get regular alerts about new information.

We do not have all the answers at this point. Because there is a limited supply of vaccines, a priority list has been established. We cannot set dates for when different phases will “have their turn” because we do not know when we will receive more doses from the State and we do not know what amount we will receive each week. We are intent on making sure that whatever number of doses we receive are administered quickly and efficiently. Also please note that vaccines for hospitals and nursing homes are being provided directly to those facilities—the County is not involved in those distributions.

It will likely be months before we have enough vaccines for people to have the two doses that provide the maximum effectiveness. Right now, we continue to have an alarming number of cases and our hospitals are stressed. You can see from the graph below that the numbers still are concerning.

7 day average number of new confirmed cases per 100k residents

Mask wearing, physical distancing and hand washing are all still essential.

There is reason to be optimistic, but still be careful and vigilant.

Warmly,



Marc Elrich
County Executive


January 6, 2021

County Administering COVID-19 Vaccines at One of the Highest Rates in the State


The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has taken on various dimensions around the nation over the past few weeks as the first steps to combat the health crisis created by the virus are moving forward. Although Montgomery County is anxiously awaiting allocation of more vaccines, it has taken swift steps to administer the first vaccines it has received.

On Tuesday, Maryland Governor Larry Hogan listed Montgomery County among the five counties in the State that had done the efficient jobs in administering the doses of vaccines that it had received.

On Dec. 29, the County received 4,200 doses of vaccine (after receiving 100 doses earlier in December). Updated statistics from Tuesday, Jan. 5, show that the County had administered 4,047 of those (94.1 percent). On Jan. 5, the County received an additional 8,600 doses and estimates that at least 5,500 doses will be administered by Friday Jan. 8.

The County has established a Vaccine Dashboard to provide updated information on the distribution of vaccines. The information includes the number of vaccines received and the number distributed.

The dashboard also establishes the priority list for the order of people to receive vaccines in Montgomery County.

Priority Group 1 A (Tier 1) recipients will include:
  • Hospital personnel
  • *Long Term Care facilities (staff and residents)
  • *Development Disability Agency group homes
  • *Assisted Living facilities
  • *Rest and Rehabilitation facilities
  • *Delivered via pharmacy partnership 
Priority Group 1 A (Tier 2) will include populations with frequent exposure to individuals with known COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and healthcare systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • EMS 
  • Vaccinators (LHD, school nurse, etc)
  • Testing sites – testers/onsite registration
  • Public Health – COVID response
  • Urgent care
  • Primary care
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include populations with risk of exposure to individuals with suspected COVID-19 and/or providing services essential to the maintenance of public health and health care systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. This group will include:
  • Dental practices
  • Pharmacists
  • Other health care professionals (e.g., outpatient specialties, optometrists, physical therapists, podiatrists, community health workers, in-home nursing staff)
  • Detention Centers staff
  • Homeless shelters staff
  • Law enforcement (patrol/public-facing)
Priority Group 1A (Tier 3) will include:
  • Fire rescue 
  • 9-1-1 dispatchers
  • Behavioral health (non-telehealth) – e.g., residential/recovery
  • School nurses (non-vaccine/non-testers)
  • Lab workers
  • Morticians/funeral home staff
  • Surgical centers
  • Other providers licensed by Maryland
Priority Group 1B (Tier 1) consists of:
  • Adults age 75 years and older
Additional details on the County’s distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, including the groups included in Priority Groups 1B (Tier 2) and Priority Group 1C, can be found at montgomerycountymd.gov/covid19/vaccine.

Montgomery Designated ‘SolSmart Gold’ for Advancing Solar Energy Growth

Montgomery County has received a “Gold” designation from the national SolSmart program—the highest designation awarded to communities by the program—for making it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. Montgomery is the first Maryland jurisdiction to achieve the SolSmart Gold designation.

The designation recognizes Montgomery County for taking bold steps to encourage solar energy growth and remove obstacles to solar development. For companies looking to expand, a SolSmart Gold designation is a signal that the County is “open for solar business.”

In addition to achieving SolSmart Gold, Montgomery County was presented with a Special Recognition Award by SolSmart. Montgomery earned the award for excellence in solar permitting; planning, zoning and development; inspection; community engagement; and marketing development and finance.

SolSmart, which is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. More than 380 cities, counties and small towns have achieved SolSmart designation since the program launched in 2016.

“I am proud of Montgomery County’s recognition as a SolSmart Gold community,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “Montgomery County is committed to driving continual improvement in our solar market. Promoting and facilitating private solar photovoltaic installations supports our goal to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions countywide by 2035. The County is also committed to installing solar on public facilities to decrease County government’s dependence on fossil-fuel-based electricity, reduce electric bills and support the expansion of community solar.”

As a SolSmart designee, Montgomery County is helping solar companies reduce the cost of installations and pass those savings on to consumers. This allows even more local homes and businesses to obtain affordable, clean and reliable electricity through solar. The actions the County has taken will help encourage solar companies to do business in the area, driving economic development and creating local jobs.

“We are so pleased to have worked with the Montgomery County Executive’s Office and community partners to earn this recognition for Montgomery County,” said Montgomery Planning Deputy Director Robert Kronenberg. “This is about working together to highlight the importance of solar and reducing the barriers in our County, and based on the uptick in solar panel applications, the work is paying off.”

To receive designation, cities and counties make changes to their processes to reduce the time and money it takes to install a solar energy system. This includes evaluating local permitting, planning and zoning procedures. SolSmart designees also develop innovations in areas such as market development and finance.

The following are among the actions that Montgomery County is taking to achieve SolSmart Gold designation:
  • Providing online checklist detailing the required permits, submittals and steps of the permitting process for rooftop solar PV.
  • Processing small rooftop solar PV permits in 10 business days or fewer.
  • Training permitting staff on best practices for permitting solar PV and/or solar and storage systems.
  • Providing an online process for solar PV permit submission and approval.
  • Codifying in the zoning ordinance that accessory use solar PV is explicitly allowed by-right in all major zones.
  • Providing clear guidance for the installation of solar PV on historic properties and in special overlay districts.
  • Requiring no more than two inspections for accessory-use solar PV.
  • Posting solar PV inspection requirements online, including the inspection process and what details inspectors will review.
  • Providing an online process for solar PV inspection scheduling.
  • Supporting a community-wide group purchase program.
More information on the SolSmart program is available at SolSmart.org