It is a race: the variants against the vaccines, and the opening this week of the mass vaccination site at Montgomery College’s Germantown campus is an important step in our effort to get as many people vaccinated for COVID-19 as possible. We were happy to welcome Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to tour the site on Wednesday, the day before the official opening. You can get a glimpse of the site in my weekly video.
We are excited about having a mass vaccination site because so many Montgomery County residents were having to travel out of the County to get vaccinated. This site also will be accessible for public transit users who will have a shuttle available from the Shady Grove Metro station. The State also opened a mass vax site by the Greenbelt Metro station in Prince George’s County, which will be convenient for our residents in the eastern part of the County.
Approximately 400,000 of our residents have been vaccinated, which is great news. However, even as supply of vaccines increases, we still do not have enough for everyone who is eligible. Beginning April 12, everyone 16 and older will become eligible throughout the State. In Montgomery County, about 400,000 people will be eligible, it will take time to get everyone vaccinated. But we will. As part of that effort, please preregister on our website if you have not already done so.
You may also want to watch a press briefing from earlier today where I talk more about these issues. You can view it here.
Many of our students have returned to their classrooms or will soon be returning to some in-person learning, and many are also engaging in sports. Through this, we need to do everything we can to reduce community transmission of COVID-19. The variants, which are more contagious, are here in the County. So we have to continue to be vigilant. Please maintain safe physical distance and keep wearing your masks. Also, if you think you may have been exposed—through travel, sports or otherwise—please get tested. It helps us track community transmission and reduce the spread as much as possible.
This week was Yom HaShoah--the Holocaust Memorial Day. As we fight hatred, racism and discrimination, it is essential to remember the atrocities committed by the Nazi regime. It is a time to recommit ourselves to justice for all.
On a bright note, this week the Maryland General Assembly passed important legislation to help our work to address climate change. The legislation would allow Montgomery County to implement Community Choice Energy (CCE), which gives us a chance to better control our fuel sources. This legislation authorizing implementation of CCE will still require substantial input from the State’s Public Service Commission, as well as authorization by the County Council. But it is important to begin that effort. As we all know, we are in a climate emergency. While I appreciate the work of the entire Montgomery County Delegation to the General Assembly, I especially want to thank Delegate Lorig Charkoudian and Senator Brian Feldman for their work and leadership on this legislation.
A Vision for the Future?
The Montgomery County Planning Board’s proposed revision of the General Plan that guides land use in Montgomery County is being sent to the County Council this week. Dubbed “Thrive Montgomery 2050,” the plan has been developed over the past two years and is expected to begin going through the County Council’s review process in late spring/early summer.
I have raised several concerns about the draft plan, not only about some of the proposed recommendations, but also about the Planning Board’s confusing, disjointed review process. Previously, I had asked that they slow down this process given that we are in the midst of a pandemic and there was no urgency to produce the plan. Doing this in the midst of a pandemic has made it very difficult for the public to be engaged in these issues, which involve some major proposed changes. However, they moved forward anyway. Now that we have a final version from the Planning Board, the Executive Branch will begin an in-depth review and provide detailed comments prior to the Council’s review. This update to the General Plan is fundamental to the future of the County. We will do our part to work toward a common goal of preserving what is great about the County while adapting to changing priorities and needs. To read more, see my letter to the Planning Board.
As always – my appreciation to all of you for your support and your work to help our County.