CoronavirusCovid-19Prince George's CountyWilliam J. Ford

COVID-19 Vaccinations Continue in Prince George’s as Cases Rise

Clement Richmond calmly sat in his vehicle while Jessica Hutchinson, a pediatric nurse, administered the Moderna vaccine in his left arm while his wife, Desryn, screamed from her passenger’s seat – even before the needle pierced her arm.

“The scream was a slight distraction,” Desryn said with a laugh. “I don’t like needles but I made up my mind to take a shot in the arm. I’m glad I did.”

The couple from Brandywine joined about 300 other patients Sunday, April 18 to receive a COVID-19 vaccine outside Greater Baden Medical Services in Brandywine. Because two doses are required, they will need a second shot four weeks later.

So far, the health provider has administered about 1,200 doses of mostly the Moderna and two-dose Pfizer vaccines.

“We are doing everything we can to get the message out and get as many people vaccinated as possible,” said Sonja Bachus, CEO of Greater Baden.

As vaccinations continue in Prince George’s County, a White House Coronavirus Task Force Report recently revealed that Maryland ranks second in the nation behind Michigan with the highest number of hospitalized and confirmed coronavirus patients. The report compiled data between April 1-7 that showed hospitalizations increased by 25 percent the week before. April 4 was the Easter holiday.

Prince George’s counts among 12 counties and Baltimore City identified in the red zone with a “high” community transmission level between April 2-8. The county ranked third among the top 12 counties in Maryland for new coronavirus cases in the last three weeks.

And while 20 percent of the Prince George’s population has been fully vaccinated, the jurisdiction continues to lead the state in confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 81,000 and a hospitalization rate which shows an average of 158.

One metric the county seeks to decrease remains the infection rate, now standing at 1.01, which assesses how COVID-19 spreads from one person to another. Health officials said the figure should be .90 or lower.

Family gatherings remain the number one cause of COVID-19 in the county, said George Askew, chief health officer for health, human services and education in Prince George’s.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlined recommendations for small gatherings.

“Family gatherings are extraordinarily risky,” Askew said. “Wonderful for us emotionally, very risky for us from a COVID standpoint.”

Back at Greater Baden, Denise McNair of Clinton followed through with a COVID-19 vaccine appointment for her sister, Annette Hammond, who has special needs complications.

Hammond, 59, sat in the backseat of McNair’s car and calmly took the shot in her arm.

“Felt nothing. I’m feeling pretty good,” she said smiling.

However, McNair still has not taken the vaccine.

“I’m still a little hesitant. I’m going to observe Annette and see how she feels,” she said.

Greater Baden will partner with local churches hosting upcoming vaccination clinics at Grace Cathedral in Capitol Heights on Friday, April 23; Carolina Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Washington on April 30; and Christian Unity Baptist Church in Waldorf, Charles County, on May 7.

“What we did here at Greater Baden [was conduct] a myth-busters campaign. You’re four times more likely to get struck by lightning [versus] a bad reaction from Moderna,” Bachus told McNair.

“I have a 6-year-old granddaughter, so for me [receiving the vaccine] was all about love. I did it out of my love for my family and for this organization,” Bachus said.

For more information about Greater Baden and upcoming vaccine clinics, go to www.gbms.org or call 301-888-2233.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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